Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Couture and Corsets

We chatted to 2009 Fashion Design graduate Belinda on her love of corsets and her romantic couture.

What is it that you enjoy about designing and making fashion pieces that incorporate corsets and bodices?
I first fell in love with corsets when I first saw Moulin Rouge at age 13. Since then I had been waiting for the day when I’d be able to create something as romantic, beautiful and feminine. Corsetry has a rich history and is still glorified today by burlesque & pin-up models such as Dita Von Teese and is always embraced on the red carpet at the Oscars and for costumes of the stage and film industries. It’s still celebrated by Haute Couture designers, namely John Galliano (for Dior), Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood and the late Alexander McQueen.

If you look at the history of the female silhouette throughout the decades, the one people remember most is the soft hourglass shape, revived in the 50’s by Christian Dior. Corsetry doesn’t discriminate, you can be any size or shape and it will create a beautiful soft, curvy silhouette. You walk differently, breathe differently and carry yourself as a new woman.

What did you love most about the corsetry short course?
The advanced skills and incredible techniques I learnt are invaluable where in an industry where garments are mass-produced; these couture techniques are an asset. The different seam types and fabric strengthening applications we used are incredibly useful as well as learning how to focus on advanced structure and fit. You really have the chance to grow and perfect your skills which is essential if you want to work in couture, bridal, formalwear or in the costume industry. It’s so much fun if you love to stretch your knowledge and take pattern-making and garment construction to the next level. Lesley is one of the most uplifting and encouraging lecturers I have worked with, you learn so much and have much more fun when you’re lecturer is so passionate about what they teach.

Did you complete the corsetry course while you were studying fashion design?
Yes I did. I’m glad that I chose to do the course then, as I had over two years of knowledge & experience from TAFE fashion which gave me the confidence and perseverance; and also because I was about to start my graduate collection and I needed to learn these advanced and fascinating techniques fast!

Corsetry and couture
“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.” ~Oscar Wilde
Corsetry, right from its design, to pattern drafting, to garment construction is in a league of its own, it is like constructing a Ferrari that is designed for only one person. It is like couture; you can’t mass-produce it overseas, it is too involved, but it is rewarding tenfold. The skills will last you well into what ever field of fashion you choose. It’s an asset to your portfolio and body of work.

Like what you see, head to Belinda's facebook and blog.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Make your own corset

Design by Belinda Zanello

We caught up with corsetry lecturer Lesley about her upcoming short course and how this one piece of underwear has shaped women's fashion.

Describe the corsetry course in five words.
Inspiring. Unusual. Celebrating women’s curves.

Design by Kellie Anderson

What do you love about being the corsetry lecturer at TAFE? How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching the corsetry course since 2008, and it’s always interesting to meet the people who come to take the course - some come to make corsets for bridal or evening gowns, some come to make fashion garments, some come to make underwear, but all of them are as passionate about corsetry as I am! We have had students come from all over South Australia and even from Melbourne, from all walks of life and interests, and they all talk animatedly about why they want to make corsets!

Tell us about your background in fashion?
I have been working at TAFE SA as a patternmaker since 2002, and as a patternmaking lecturer since 2007. I have been working as a costume maker for dancers and for the theatre in Adelaide since 1999. I became interested in corset making in 2003, and have been studying historical and modern corset making techniques ever since.

What will students do on their first day of the course and what skills will they walk away with?
The moment the students walk in the door, they are measured and fitted for the basic corset. We then talk about how designs can be tweaked and changed to their own personal design. We talk about how fashion silhouettes change, and how corsetry in fashion has changed over the years. We go through many techniques in sewing to work out what will be the best way for the student to proceed, and we talk about the steel boning and metal hardware that goes into making a proper corset, as opposed to a plastic boned bodice. And that’s just on the first day! Over the three days, they learn many tips and tricks to make corset making easier, and by the end of the three days, they not only have a corset that they have made, but enough knowledge to make more and the passion to try different styles.

Corsets - history to the catwalk.
In the corsetry course, we have a focus on the modern shaped corset, but we discuss how the historical shapes have influenced fashion and how they changed the shape of women’s fashion. We talk about the myths and facts about tight-lacing, and why people are wary of corsets. We talk about how corsets constantly make appearances on the catwalk, and how they are used as shock value by fashion designers due to their extreme nature of body-sculpting.

Corsetry is fascinating. I don’t think that there is another item of clothing in the history of fashion that has drawn such extreme reactions from people.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vintage is back

We chatted with fashion lecturer Jill about the new ‘must do’ short course for 2011 Express Yourself with Fashion where you get to revamp your vintage find – what’s not to love!

Describe the Express Yourself with Fashion course in five words.
Innovation; originality; creation; deconstruction and sustainability.

What do you love about being a fashion lecturer at TAFE?

I love helping people to create something beautiful that is uniquely theirs. It is inspiring and rewarding to watch students skills and confidence grow throughout their studies and to share my own love of fashion with like-minded people.

Tell us about your background in fashion?
I have worked in the fashion industry as a patternmaker for many years and have my own small business. I also work in the CAD suite where we do computer patternmaking for industry. The CAD suite is a TAFE SA initiative which operates as a small business providing patternmaking services to fashion industry.

Designs by Paris Adelaide

What will students do on their first day of the course and what skills will they walk away with?
On the first day we will spend time planning the new garment. This may include some sketching of ideas, discussion of fabrics and embellishments that may be used in the reconstruction. There will also be an opportunity to try the garment on and discuss fitting techniques and alterations that may be necessary. A sequence of work will be established. If there is time we will begin by trialling certain techniques and learning to use the sewing machines before we begin altering the garment. Depending on the complexity of the garment there may be time to recreate several pieces.

Trends in vintage fashion.
Vintage fashion has been big for a number of years now but it is now taking centre stage on Paris catwalks with many labels reconstructing and recycling vintage garments for very expensive prices - think One Vintage and Riley. There are also many Australian labels recycling and revamping vintage clothes. People are becoming much more aware of sustainable and ethical clothing.