Carly Van Groeningen, Australia (Lyris Design)
Photographer: Sol Santana Photography
Model and make up artist: Miss Twisted
This corset was inspired by Shinto shrines and palaces in Japan. I have a strong passion for Japanese styling, and lived in Japan for several years, so when the competition theme was announced I knew what my inspiration would be. I went through my photos from living there to pick out architectural details that sparked ideas for my design. My favourite elements were the elaborate wooden carvings of birds and animals that adorn the lintels of Shinto shrines, the overlapping roof tiling and wooden lattice support struts, the gold filigree metal work, and the palette of aged wood and black lacquer work.
The roof tiles are often finished with small circular tiles which bear the crest of the family associated with the shrine. The chrysanthemum is the crest of the imperial family, and the emperor is the head of the Shinto religion so I chose to use the chrysanthemum as a recurring symbol on my design.
To incorporate my inspirations into my corset, I elected to use very simple, elegant lines for the paneling of the corset, embellished with gold leather applique to parallel the gold metalwork. The hip fins echo the roof tiling and wooden tiered roof supports, and the bust piece reproduces one of my favourite lintel carvings. I was inspired to use a vintage black silk kimono I brought home from Japan for the fabric, using material from the sleeves for the corset and the embroidered lower section of the kimono for the skirt.
The pattern was drafted to fit my model, with 17 panels to achieve a smooth silhouette. I made a toile and had several fittings. The silk was reinforced with interfacing and roll-pinned to coutil before sewing each panel to the next.
The appliques were hand cut from gold leather, mounted with spray adhesive, then painstakingly sewn by machine.
The boning channels were premade coutil channels, with a total of 23 bones.The channels were hand sewn wherever they intersected with appliqués. For the first time I tried prebent flat steels over the bust, to good effect. The corset has a cotton floating lining, and hand finished silk binding. I sculpted a foam and thermoplastic chrysanthemum crest for the centre front. There is a boned, suspended modesty panel.
The bust piece was sculpted from thermoplastic and foam with a heat gun, a butter knife, teaspoon and skewer, then painted to resemble a wooden carving.
My first attempt at hip fins failed, as the shaping wasn’t ideal and they were too heavy. The second attempt had better shaping, and were largely foam making them lighter. The lattice of support struts were glued and dremeled foam. The circular end tiles were 3D modeled and printed to have the chrysanthemum crest. The constructed hip fins were then primed and painted.
The plan to mount the fins and bust piece was to use neodymium magnets, but the ones I bought were too weak and the pieces easily fell off. I eventually resorted to velcro - not as pretty, but very secure!
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
It is a great opportunity to explore techniques and ideas you may not usually get to try, so jump in and give it a go!