July 22, 2014

Orchid Corsetry

Training the waist, Reshaping the body

Orchid Corsetry, it says a lot about them and will embody a different set of reactions and emotions in each and every owner, for some it is confidence, pride and sensuality. For others a corset is a set of delicately embellished armour that protects its wearer from the everyday. For everyone, it is an exotic pleasure unmatched in this world or the next.

Designer and creator Bethan Billingsley is the artistic force behind Orchid Corsetry, starting the company at the age of 19 after slavishly claiming her skills through years of self tuition and experimentation. The dawn often saw her stalking back to the sewing room. Too excited by an idea to sleep, and eager to test out her growing abilities. Her sought after work is inspired by a wealth of sources from classic gothic culture, strict Victorian silhouettes, early silver screen glamour and showgirls through the ages. With a background rich in fine art, Bethan draws from visual references as varied as Anselm Kiefer, Grayson Perry and Brian Froud, with a real penchant for the ethereal, mysterious and fragile world of fey.

Seven years on, Orchid has evolved from being a small local enterprise to being a globally recognized source of elaborate and captivating artistry within the discerning circle of corsetry aficionado’s. Returning clients clamour for new pieces, and newcomers eagerly await the arrival of their first Orchid Corsetry creation, a dream made flesh.
Each corset is crafted at the studio in Shrewsbury, gazing out at rooftop level over the chimney stacks of the medieval town. A space filled with afternoon sunlight through the summer, and a building steeped in local history- it even has its own ghost story.
Some pictures of my collaboration with Orchid Corsetry 
and the lovely DeathBird Model.
Model : DeathBird

Model : DeathBird

Model : DeathBird

Model : DeathBird

Model : DeathBird

A little bit of history

The corset has been an important article of clothing for several centuries, evolving as fashion trends have changed. Women, as well as some men, have used it to change the appearance of their bodies.The corset first became popular in sixteenth-century Europe, reaching the zenith of its popularity in the Victorian Era. 
Whether tight lacing was commonly practiced is unclear even though there are photographs that clearly show the practice did take place on occasion. These extremes were probably very rare and and there is some evidence that the practice has also been exaggerated. Extreme tight lacing e.g. reducing the waist to less than eighteen inches was probably practiced by very few people and was not as common as the fetish oriented literature from that time would suggest.

All this changed in the early years of the 20th century, which in part was probably due to the changing tole of women brought about by emancipation and perhaps just as significantly the first world war.
In the first world war women increasingly took on male roles in factory work and this also dictated a change in the garments that women traditionally wore. The corset became much lighter than previously, but was still considered essential and in fact was believed to be necessary to support women performing factory work. However, the garments themselves were somewhat lighter and benefited to some extent by the use of elastic material to support. As well as the more traditional cloth and steel supports. Suspenders also became and integral part of the corset design to assist in holding up stockings and instead of the solid shelf that had characterized the appearance of women’s breasts, the breasts became separated. In what was to become the forerunner of the modern brassiere.

The most revolutionary changes in women’s fashion came just after the war, with the new look created by Christian Doir. This was a return to the sharply differentiated female form with wide shoulders being matched with very tiny waists and fully fitted skirts.
In order to achieve this look many women had to wear very tight corsets to pull the waist and these were usually very short garments. Which restricted the waist but left the hips free.
Tight lacing was needed to get the look required and the garments must have been agony to wear.
it was common for these to be worn with a more conventional girdle underneath, but even so it is likely that only the very fashionable squeezed themselves into such a restricting garments regularly. The new look came in 1947.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post and really interesting!
    Will pop and see whats this corset shop about soon !



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