The Catherine Corset
Model: Lara Aimée IR
Headpiece: Emmalyne Rose
MUA/Photography: Kika von Macabre
For this year’s theme I looked for an architectural style that had an intrinsic link with corsetry. I found this link in the curves of the onion domes of Russian cathedrals. Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow was the starting point, but after more research I fell in love with the golden domes of the chapel of the Catherine Palace in Saint Petersburg.
The palace was built as a summer residence for Catherine I in 1717. Around mid-century, it was transformed to the Rococo palace as we know it today. Although the later ruling Catherine (II) the Great, considered this style too extravagant, I was intrigued by her life story and wanted to represent her in the corset as well.
As the main fabric, I chose a very shiny golden faux leather I was saving for the right project. I added a pearl white leatherette to visually separate the parts. The golden decorations on the domes became lines of bright golden Swarovski pearls, enveloping the chest and following the curves of de hips.
To contrast with the smooth surface of the corset, the cups were covered with smocked fabric. Matching the luxury of the expanding Russian Empire, the connection points were encrusted with German rhinestones.
More than a mere mimicry of the architectural form, I wanted the corset to incorporate the strength and rulership of Catherine II. The strong, almost harnesslike torso shows the woman who dethroned her husband and became ruler of Russia.
The pattern of this corset is based on a shape I developed last year by draping on an altered mannequin. From here, I adjusted and added seamlines to the shape of the domes.
Construction-wise I also wanted the domes to reflect throughout the corset. This lead me to some very experimental techniques like padding the ribcage.
Since visible boning channels would have compromised this goal, I went with a floating upper layer and a boned coutil inner layer. The inner layer follows the same seamlines as the shell, but in a more simplified manner.
The layers are attached at the busk, at the lacing and at the binding. The pearls are hand-sewn through both layers. The smocked fabric was modelled and hand sewn over the cups.
The corset features double boned boning channels on the inside of the corset (spiral steel), flat steels in the backside and some piping made of plastic-coated wire.
I would like to thank my mother for helping me out with some last-minute work with the pearls and give a big shout-out to Kika and Lara for the marvelous pictures.
Read more about this corset adventure in my dress diary.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
I am very happy I took up the challenge again this year. While working on this creation, it became clear that this was my personal “Murphy project”, but I was able to break my habit of pulling all-nighters. Finishing projects on the train, on the other hand, is something I might need to tackle next time. ;)