The Oxford Conference of Corsetry 2015 September 07 2015, 1 Comment
The Oxford Conference of Corsetry, now in it’s 3rd year, is held annually in the picturesque town of Oxford in England. Run by corset-veteran and owner of Sew Curvy, Julia Bremble – it is the event of the year on the corset making calendar. Catering for the beginner to life-corsetieres alike, this hub of learning, networking, socialising and sharing is a brilliant, if somewhat mind-blowing experience.
This year the special guests included Autumn Adamme from Dark Garden Corsetry, Ian Wallace from the Whitechapel Workhouse, Barbra Pesendorfer from Royal Black, Immodesty Blaze and direct from the couture houses of Paris, Mr Pearl. It was the addition of Mr Pearl to the program that prompted myself (and a few others) to send Julia late night emails, that translated from the gibberish aghrgh!!! Included ‘please let me come!!!’ There were a few, highly prized tickets left.
Up close viewing of the extraordinary detailing on Royal Black corsetry.
Every single one of these speakers were amazing. Autumn introduced pattern matching for corsetry. Ian had our minds ticking with integrated corsetry ideas and opportunities, the group discussions were particularly inspirational. Barbara opened our eyes to the many, many components that can be moulded, shaped, painted, embellished and created to bring gorgeous enhancement to corsetry and costume work. Mr Pearl charmed us all with his Q&A session, discussing the realities of the couture world, the teams behind his catwalk works of art, particulars from certain pieces – all done to a steady stream of disco from his Paris workshop.
Mr Pearl has worked with Gaultier in more recent years but his entry into the Parisian Couture world began with Mugler in the 90s.
Saturday evening gave us a chance to show off our own finery with an outdoor drinks reception, followed by a gorgeous 3 course dinner and a performance by Immodesty Blaze. Her after dinner speech was particularly inspiring and thought provoking - the festivities continued well into the night.
Giselle corset worn by myself (Danielle) of Ava corsetry. Also pictured Karolina Laskowska (http://karolinalaskowska.com/) and Alice of Videnoir.
Sunday was a huge day for most of the delegates with 4 models and photographers working throughout the entire day, negotiating weather, costume changes and incredible scenery to have all the outfits presented and photographed. In among this were more workshops on SEO with Fiona Pullen and incredible viewing of antique corsets, with Sephanie Selmayr from Past Pleasures. Also on the program was the corset viewing table, swap shop, networking tea & coffee and a fluid pattern and sewing class with Barbara.
Stunning bead work detailing on a corset from http://www.vanyanis.net/ View of a suspender clip from an antique corset belonging to Stephanie Selmayr (http://pastpleasures.co.uk/)
I feel so honoured to have been able to take part in such an informative and enjoyable weekend. A huge thank you to all the team and delegates who made the conference the unforgettable event that it was.
Would you go again? Absolutely!! I loved every part of this weekend and learned an incredible amount.
What is Mr Pearl like? Utterly lovely, a complete gentleman and never-ending source of knowledge.
How can I go next year? Find out more info here http://www.conferenceofcorsetry.com/
Pregnancy, babies and corsets! August 19 2014, 0 Comments
**This post is based around my own personal experiences and opinions. I am not a medical professional and points discussed in this post should not be treated as medical advice. Please discuss your postpartum healing plans with your midwife and doctor.**
Lately there’s been a lot of media hype about women who have recently given birth and corsets.
A number of celebrities have claimed to wear ‘corsets’ to regain their figures post pregnancy. However, if you read these articles (linked below) carefully, the garments described are actually elasticated shape wear and not corsetry.
So the question still stands in many ways. Is it safe to wear a corset during or after pregnancy?
As a corset maker who has recently been pregnant, this is something I have often been asked lately. I’d like to start with looking at the situation during pregnancy. The answer here is a firm no. The Victorians may have fashioned a maternity corset with adjustable panels but this is in no way advisable today – nor would you want to. As D-day approached, my garment of choice was a pair of far too big, loose waisted track pants. I even came home from the hospital in them.
No wonder you have to eat small meals – that baby takes up a lot of room. Quite like wearing a corset in some ways.
How about wearing a corset , after pregnancy then? There are many factors to consider here, such as how was your birth, did you deliver naturally or have a caesarean? If you had the latter, some doctors advise to not drive a car for up to 6 weeks (sometimes longer). A caesarean is major abdominal surgery, so strapping a firm corset over the top of your scar is going to be far from comfortable. The general advice is to defer from all exercise (except gentle walking) until your 6 week check. Your stomach and pelvic floor muscles have taken a real beating – even doing situps too early on can damage this weakened area. To the point – if your stomach muscles do not feel well enough to do a situp, then probably wearing a corset is not a sensible idea.
Be gentle on your body.
So how do you get a fabulous flat tummy post birth?
Thankfully, mother nature has an answer for this. Research shows ‘the best way to reduce abdominal distension is breastfeeding and specific exercises to strengthen the abdominals’.
As you feed the baby, oxytocin is released and this is responsible for helping your uterus to contract back down to its original size (and it’s kinda painful, but in a good way). Nobody leaves hospital with a flat tummy, this happens gradually over time. So for most people: if you keep active, do your pelvic floor exercises, keep a good posture with a tucked tummy and tall spine when you’re out on buggy walks, then by 3 months post birth you’ll be feeling great and probably eyeing up your corsets again.
Still find the idea of a celebrity endorsed, strongly elasticised girdle attractive? Take care – if your tummy is being supported externally when you wear these, then the internal muscles may not work as hard to rebuild themselves. Don’t give yourself a false friend.
Q: I’ve had diasasis recti (separation of the stomach muscles) during pregnancy – how soon after should I consider wearing a corset?
A: Everyone will heal at a different rate. Talk to your gp or physio so they can check how well your tummy muscles have knitted back together before you wear a corset again.
Q: What are some warning signs I’ve gone back to wearing my corset too soon?
A: If you feel any discomfort when wearing your corset (though this should be applied to normal corset wearing as well – but post pregnancy you need to listen very closely to your body) or feel unwell in any way. Trust your instincts and talk to your gp if you are ever in doubt.
Q: Will I need to waist train all over again?
A: Yes. Pregnancy will push out the floating ribs at the base of your rib cage and whilst they will naturally shift back into a normal position over time, if you trained them in before then you will need to do it again.
Like to hear more on this subject? Lucy has made a wonderful video discussing these same points and many more.
Beyond the Boudoir March 11 2014, 0 Comments
7 easy ways to style your corset for a night out.
So you have a beautiful corset. An amazing corset. And you want everyone to see your incredible waist in it, right, not just keep it for your bedroom?
Well here are just a few ways how! (Please see below for full image credits)
1) Pair it with a classic pencil or wiggle skirt
This look never fails to be chic, yet versatile. A good pencil skirt is a wardrobe classic and so is a black underbust corset. Black skirts will work with either black or coloured corsets, while a coloured skirt is easiest with a black corset. Tartan (plaid) can be especially striking for the cooler months and gives a more daytime hint. This is the perfect opportunity for seamed tights, rather than stockings, as your suspender belt could show under a close fitting skirt. A leg split (seen right) will add that bit of extra sauce to the ensemble.
2) Pair it with a skater, circle or full skirt
Teaming a corset with a full skirt will give an instant 50s bombshell image, especially if the skirt is cotton and boldly printed or lighter in colour. A chiffon or soft silk full skirt can take your corset into perfect black tie/ formal/ wedding attire; an underbust or overbust could be worn this way. A fuller skirt is especially good if you are pear shaped, very curvy or have large hips as the skirt line will skim neatly over your curves and do an amazing job of emphasising just how tiny your waist is.
3) Pair it with a sheer top
If you are like me and own a few too many beautiful bras, a sheer top is the perfect way to take lingerie to outwear whilst keeping it neat and sophisticated. A chiffon pussy bow blouse works very well and the cinched shaping of an underbust corset will compliment the fullness of the fabric beautifully.
4) Pair it with trousers
Wide leg trousers? Skinny trousers? Wet look leggings? The possibilities are endless. Keeping your trousers tailored will add to the ‘evening’ dynamic, or if you want a more edgy look then leggings are perfect. Unless you are planning a white contrast shirt/tailored trouser look then I would recommend an overbust corset in this situation. Just make sure there are no gaps between trouser top and corset bottom!
5) Pair it with jeans
This has never been my style, but it's so popular as a way of glamming up jeans or dressing down your corset. Rihanna is very casual in the below picture – so for the evening, have some nicely fitting jeans, pop an overbust corset on, some dashing heels, perhaps a necklace and you are done. I'd keep the colours dark – I'm not convinced I could pull off white jeans like Rihanna!
6) Pair it with a suit jacket or biker style.
The search for the perfect tailored jacket or biker inspired jacket has been a phenomenon in fashion in the last few years, so I'm betting most of you own at least one. A fitted suit jacket will show off your sculptured waist without drawing too much attention and can neatly take you from the office to an evening out. Your leather jacket will create a more rock and roll image – perhaps with those leggings or skinny jeans options.
7) Pair it with shrugs and boleros
Fluffy shrugs, cropped cardigans, boleros – all are great ways to update a corset. Visually, the wider your shoulders look then the smaller your waist will appear. Practically, they help keep you a touch warmer, cover up any aspect you're not keen on in the bosom or arm area, and if you're attending an event where heaving bosom or bare shoulders aren't appropriate, this is how to get away with your favourite corset anyway!
With special thanks to Gina (Guernsey), Karolina Laskowska (UK) and Mya (Canada)
1) Emma Glover modelling Ava Corsetry Ophelia underbust. Photography by Karl Taylor Photography. http://avacorsetry.co.uk/collections/classic-collection/products/ophelia-underbust-corset-black
Mya from Canada, wearing Kiss Me Deadly black Tempest corset
2) Karolina Laskowska wearing a Sparklewren overbust corset
Mya from Canada, wearing Kiss Me Deadly black Tempest underbust corset
3) Jess modelling Kiss Me Deadly Blue Deville underbust corset http://www.kissmedeadly.co.uk/shop/product/1080/blue-deville-underbust-corset
Chiffon pussy bow blouse, source unknown
4) Rubin Singer corset and trousers
Twilight star Ashely wearing Donna Karen corset
5) Rihanna, corset unknown
6) Various jackets, sources unknown
7) Karolina Laskowska wearing Fairy Goth Mother/ Lulu & Lush corset
July Photoshoot July 31 2013, 0 Comments
We were very busy in July, as we also staged our first ever photo shoot.
A huge amount of preparation went into this; you can see a video version of it here - Karl Taylor Corsetry Shoot.
Gorgeous corsets aside, the multi talented lads at Karl Taylor Photography put a lot of work into building the set. Many of the props came from our own collections, or that of friends (and even some friends of friends!) Every outfit was pre-planned, even down to shoes that didn’t get seen in the final images. Amanda from Lipstick and Curls (http://www.lipstickandcurls.net/) came to work her magic on the beautiful Emma (from RMG models) helping her to transform into a stunning beauty with a hint of Hollywood glamour.
It was an amazing experience and a wonderful privilege to watch someone as professional as Karl Taylor working. He was a great listener and attentive to my requests, which is vital in corsetry shoots as they are quite different to the usual ‘fashion’ shots and angles are very important to the overall look of the final images. Karl also had a great way of communicating with the model and the rest of the team, keeping a good positive energy and discussing with Emma very effectively what poses worked and why.
Shooting both collections, the Classics & Autumn/Winter 2013/14 took us two days and we just managed to fit everything in, thanks to careful planning. What a team!
A few facts
- Emma had never worn a corset before this shoot. We think she’s a natural!
- Amanda makes hairstyling look so easy, I really need to take some of her classes.
- The fruit in that fruit bowl really did taste as good as it looked.
- Karl’s new assistant had recently begun working with him, this is one shoot he’s unlikely to forget in a long time.
- July shoots are hot hot hot!
Paris Lingerie Show July 12 2013, 0 Comments
5th- 8th July at Porte de Versailles, Paris
Paris is glorious: there is always such a wonderful, chic energy about the city. I feel instantly compelled to put on a pretty dress and a good pair of heels.
The annual Mode City trade show is a vast hub of the latest ideas and timeless trends. The show boasts a great variety of lingerie and swimwear brands from the big guns like Gossard and Chantelle, complete with their own bars, catwalk shows and models (yes there are many girls walking around in just their underwear!) to the smaller, often far more interesting ‘Indie’ brands, such as Kiss Me Deadly or Fred and Ginger. A large show like Mode City also features a fabric, trims & components section with exhibitors from all over the world ready to talk to you about the latest in fabric, bra cups, suspender clips or any of the other delights that go into the actual construction of underwear. There is also a small section for factories who wish to gain new customers and hosiery folk.
This year I was lucky enough to share a stand with the lovely girls from Kiss Me Deadly. Trade shows can be intimidating and expensive the first few times you do them, so it’s great to be able to share space with a more experienced vendor, have some company and also pick up hints and tips along the way.
There is a real skill in packing enough garments, roll up posters, banners, flyers etc so that you can carry it all onto the Eurostar, but still make enough of an impact when you get to the show. However, corset companies are relatively rare at these events which made us an exciting novelty for many people.
We had 3 full days of taking orders and talking to buyers and sightseers from all over the world about our products. Very occasionally there were quiet periods: we used this time to make short videos, which you can see below have a peek at what other companies are doing (being careful to ask before taking photographs!) and eating lovely but expensive salads.
You might be interested to learn that trade shows aren’t just for trade, buyers and press. Anyone is welcome to visit them, you simply go to the website and purchase a ticket for around €20; it can be a fun day out for any fashion enthusiasts and especially useful for students! http://www.interfiliere.com/ Lingerie trade shows are held in Paris every January and July.
Ava Corsets in Iceland - May 2013 May 30 2013, 0 Comments
I was over the moon when Karl from Karl Taylor Photography asked me if he could use some corsets in a shoot he was doing in Iceland in May.
I’m really hoping to do a studio based shoot with him later in the year, and from these amazing images I’m sure you can see why!
Iceland was still bitterly cold at this time of year, though the moody skies and incredible scenery is absolutely breathtaking. You can see more at Karl Taylor Iceland Fashion Shoot - Things don’t always go to plan on location shoots!
Ava Corsetry Launch Party October 2012 & Halloween November 02 2012, 0 Comments
Thanks to Kiss Me Deadly and Paolita boutique, October saw a launch party for Ava Corsetry in London.
It was a great way for those who had been curious about Ava Corsetry to come to a central London location, meet the team and try some corsets on. Hopefully we will do another party soon with more champagne and cake this time!
October also brings my favourite dress up holiday, Halloween/ Samhain! The outfit pictured features a historically inspired Ava corset (fully boned 1760 stays) based on a historical pattern from the period. Panniers or ‘baskets’ are also adapted from the same period with wig by Kezia (http://kezia-argue.com/) and makeup by Eva Stamati makeup artist. Rocking a party, corsetry style!