Photography by my friend Erin Spiden; she very kindly ventured down with me to the Redwoods, in the Great Otway National Park, and captured some lovely images of my entry.
I really pushed myself this year and was tremendously happy with my final outfit. This competition is a fabulous opportunity to force yourself to expand your horizons and try something new!I have long enjoyed watching burlesque, and in 2018 I decided to take a few beginner classes. It’s a fabulous arena for self-growth and developing confidence. There are many fabulous costumes for inspiration and one that I keep returning to is a multilayer outfit worn by Immodesty Blaize at London Fashion Week 2010, for Ziad. She pulls a long bone out of the front like a zip, allowing the dress to fall away to each side. One day I’d like to make a full dress, and I thought I’d start by trying it with a corset.
I am also a lover of fairy tales and fantasy - and after lingering over pictures of European castles, I decided (on the slightly kooky choice) to create a burlesque costume based on the idea of being the castle.
My “Queen of the Castle” consists of two corsets (my fifth and sixth), a chiffon panel skirt and a headpiece; together forming a whimsical ensemble for a (as yet, hypothetical) burlesque performance. The floaty blue skirt calls to mind a moat around the castle, while the headpiece is a cross between a Medieval hennin and a castle spire.
The base corset is a cupped corset; there are two layers of black herringbone coutil, 11 flat steel bones at the front, another four at the back (either side of the eyelets) and 12 spirals. I followed Barbara’s articles on adapting an overbust to a cupped corset. I deviated from the instructions in that I used bra making foam, cut following the same pattern as the coutil pieces, rather than an existing bra. The cups were highly challenging; they took several iterations and I think if I make another cupped corset they would come out quite well. Overall, I am happy with how smoothly it sits on my body and I really like the visual juxtaposition of the bone channels in the herringbone coutil and the lace.
The Castle Corset was also adapted from my overbust pattern, this time extended up to form the top of the castle wall. It is two layers of grey spot broche. Instead of a normal busk, I used ribbon and a spiral steel bone to create something that could be pulled out to remove the corset quickly. 16 straight and nine spiral steel bones were used. I was disappointed with the wrinkles in the Castle Corset but I think this is a function of being worn over another corset, as it is smoother when I wear it by itself. This project is my first use of rhinestones and I was happy with the sparkly gradient effect I achieved.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
I really pushed myself this year and was tremendously happy with my final outfit. This competition is a fabulous opportunity to force yourself to expand your horizons and try something new!
So clever and fun! That pull away technique is also used in the Frozen production-- Elsa pulls a length of fishing line out of her standard dress, and boom- ice queen... so you are right on track with a very popular quick change technique! Best wishes in your burlesque adventures, too!
Thank you! You prompted me to watch the Broadway Let It Go on YouTube and WOW! That looks an amazing number and I just love the final costume change!
I love the transformation! ! A princess at day, a vamp at night! Indeed ideal for a burlesque performance. You should be proud of how you turned out your creativity and skills in this.
Hahaha - that's that aim! Thank you - I'm definitely proud.
What a brilliant idea! I just love the lady letting down her battlements ;) the video really made me smile and I love that you have thought not only about the design but the presentation of the costume too!
Hehehe - there are actually a couple other elements that I'd like to make, including a larger, tiered skirt with a draw bridge at the front! Perhaps I could try and get that to lower somehow...
This is brilliant! The corset layers are fantastic, of course, but there is a very special place in my heart for that hennin. :) This is most definitely ready for the burlesque stage!
Thank you! It's my first hennin and I had so much fun swishing and swooping around in it!
This is just such a fun design! I love it, well done xx
Thank you! xx
Clever and fun indeed and I think it really shows that you enjoyed creating this piece and that you are happy with the result. Well done! :)
Thank you! Yes, I certainly enjoyed creating it very much!
I love it! So much fun, and very creative. I love the clever front opening and the idea of the reveal, with another corset underneath. Well done!
Thank you! I was definitely aiming for fun, and I'm very happy that I was able to convey that!
This is so gorgeous!!! <3 I just love it. Such a great and genius construction. And both are so neat and smooth. Also this binding of the top layer must have droven you mad, didn't it? ;) Also I just LOVE your burlesque inspiration, it makes an awesome stage costume and story... "the protected damsel escapes the castel of her imperious father, just to ran into this handsome knight..." yaaa, well, you know the drill :D Really really beautiful and very inspiring work, those changing burlesque costumes are so intriguing! <3
Thank you! I wouldn't say the top binding drove me mad, but it was certainly very time consuming! I took it section by section and used many, many pins! Hehehe - I love your drill! I'm not yet sure what story I want to tell in my performance. I quite like "the Lusty Month of May" from the Broadway version of Camelot, or Aqua's "My Oh My" and they would each have a slightly different story to go with them, I think.... But I'm not yet locked into anything, just enjoying throwing around ideas!
Very fun and creative!
Such a fun interpretation of the theme and bursting with so much construction! Love all of this
Thank you! I'm thrilled that "fun" has come up several times in my comments - that's definitely my style!
Absolutely delightful! You video was so fun to watch. Beautiful job!
Thank you! I'm very glad we get to include a video - I think that's the best way to show this outfit off!
Oh my days, I'm loving the video!! I like the 'quick reveal' at the end! Beautifully made and thought out, love it all :) x
Your burlesque dance! Go girl! A great way to show off all the hard work and effort that has clearly gone into this, I mean that binding alone, but the fact that there are 2 corsets as well as all the other elements! You really are queen of the castle ;-)
Thank you! I'm really enjoying the burlesque classes and slowly getting a bit smoother at moving around - in fact I'm doing a feather fan dance at the student showcase this Sunday!
What a fab design! The base corset is stunning and the reveal from the castle is insprired.
You really managed to create a WOW moment when the gorgeous black corset is revealed! So much fun!
Thank you! It's lovely to hear such positive feedback!
I am absolutely in love with the way you present your pieces of art! So much happiness and confidence! Awesome!!!
Thank you! Both making and wearing costumes brings me a lot of joy!
This exudes such joy! Loving the reveal elements of the design and all those little embellishments. Clever, clever, clever!
OooOoo! Now, I have never looked at a castle and thought of a burlesque outfit, but it totally works! Wonderful idea and execution! Both corsets are works of art in their own ways. Am ever so slightly jealous you got to study with Vanyanis! The level of tidiness of construction and smooth silhouette demonstrate that you definitely learned from a master. Bravo!
Thank you! I think seeing all the different intreptations of the theme is one of my favorite things about this competition. Everyone is so creative, and sees the world in slightly different ways :)
And I would most definitely recommend a Vanyanis course, if you ever have the chance!