A talented friend of mine (publisher of Foundations Revealed) was desirous of a new Edwardian corset, made as authentically as we could manage, with a view to creating an extraordinary silhouette. As outlined in one of her blog posts (click through to see the toile/fitting photos), we are doing this not by forcing her naturally athletic and straight body into wild curves, but by adopting a more cohesive Edwardian approach. In short, the corset is only part of the story…
Corsets, perhaps due to their close relationship to the body or perhaps through their sculptural object-like quality, do have a fetishistic element to them. They function with beautiful appeal when presented in isolation. A corset shown solo on a mannequin has a peculiar charm and perhaps this is partly why we often think of the corset separate from other garments. But of course, the proportions of those other garments matter, when the corset is actually used as a shaping garment. Possibly no-where more so than in Edwardian corsetry.
The corset may, for example, have been bought by waist size, cut for a fashionable silhouette. I have seen extant Edwardian corsets with ribs folded and sewn tighter, clearly being too curvy for the lady who owned them and there does seem to be wide suggestion that historically, late Victorian and Edwardian corsetry (being essentially mass-produced) wasn’t tailored to fit. And thus, they perhaps didn’t “fit”, in the way we mean the word.
For Cathy’s new Edwardian corset, we took this approach. Ie: pitch to create the fashionable silhouette through whatever era-appropriate means possible, rather than making a corset (and subsequent ensemble) to “fit”. Using “ideal” measurements from Edwardian sources and a pattern taken from an actual 1900’s corset, we have created a piece that fits when padded. By adding hip/backside pads, a flouncy bust improver, and of course layers of other garments including the final glorious dress, we hope to create a corset that functions as the foundation of an opulent and extravagant ensemble. Because without that classic and dramatic Edwardian shape, even the most stunning Edwardian gown can be slightly lacklustre.
It’s all about proportion combined with surface detail, tone and texture. So despite the fact that the corset alone is very plain, you can probably understand why I am thrilled and excited for this project overall!
I shall cease waffling now… Here it is.
So there you are, something a little bit different for us. I believe Cathy’s plan is to add suspenders to the front and sides, plus decorative flossing and/or other embroidery. I cannot wait to see!