The “Red Hearts” corset is very much a showpiece. It’s the sort of elaborate design that I get to do for “corset collectors”, those clients who have couture corsetry from all their favourite independent brands and who, when they commission you, really want an example of your own aesthetic.
Beneath all the embellishment, this piece is a variation on the Birds Wing (which I will explain below), making it doubly-complex.
For the shoot, I made a quick tulle robe to soften the effect of the corset-body…
…and I completely adore the watery, painterly, inky quality of these images. They’re so in keeping with Red Hearts itself.
The above shot gives a clearer representation of the tones and embellishment. The corset featured pink tulle, layered couture laces in pinks and golds, with semi-clear burnt-orange seed beads, rose quartz chips, and baroque freshwater pearls in pink and berry. The corset itself is made from the finest mink toned cotton coutil.
So, the Birds Wing variation I have been talking about… It was something hit upon accidentally when teaching a former-intern the very beginnings of how to construct these corsets. By altering the patterning just slightly, and reversing the direction of one seam, you can create a triangular effect to the hips or bust which looks much like gores (inserts). It changes the slope of the seams and overall look of the Birds Wing, and I think could prove an interesting and effective way of adding fullness to the corset, where needed.
I need to play with the idea further and may be using it for a lovely client’s design, we shall see.
The embellishment on this piece progressed swiftly, as there was little time available. I don’t think I’ve ever appliquéd lace so fast before. I love asymmetry, so I again employed a “splash” placement for the lace, washing over one side of the corset and leaving the patterning details more visible on the other.
I knew that I wanted to push this piece into areas I hadn’t quite explored already (stronger or clashing colour, for example), and considered many different beads and pearls. In the end I opted for the peculiar berry pearls seen below, deciding to save the steel-blue pearls (above) for a different project.
As ever, each bead and pearl is securely stitched. One can apply pearls more quickly than this, but the reason to secure each and every one is that should a thread snap you will lose only one pearl, not all of them… It is a true challenge though, not an inexpensive way of applying embellishment at all. Which is partly why couture and antique garments that are awash with beading employ the tambour hook (ie: the beading is worked as a chain-stitch from the reverse side of a framed piece of fabric). It’s faster and very beautiful, the only compromise being that it is a touch more delicate (and of no use in terms of applying beads to an existing corset). Years ago, I had a wish to make, for example, a black sheer corset in which each panel was beaded in this manner before construction. Precision would be paramount, as your panels would have to be thread-traced perfectly so that you knew where to stop the beading so that seams could be made and exterior casings laid down. I think it could be beautiful though, perhaps with some black lace involved too, creating a fully-beaded corset (or corset-gown, I also wanted to incorporate beaded fringing) with flashes of darkly covered skin here and there…
My next step for Red Hearts is to lace her onto a few more people. She wasn’t made specifically for our shoot with Tingyn, so as ever I would like to assess the fit and shaping on a few bodies if possible. See what the repercussions of those small changes to patterning are.