About Orchid Corsetry
When did your passion for corsetry and lingerie start?
I think I became aware of corsets first when I was about 13- my friends and I were interested in gothic culture, and in seeking that Victorian poise and elegance the structure of the corset became essential. I loved the way that it was a truly transformative garment that lent drama and mystery to the wearer, and I became instantly hooked! I think lingerie came later for me, the discovery of how empowering those little scraps of lace and satin could be, even when worn under the most everyday of clothing!
You started Orchid Corsetry at age 19, that’s very impressive! How do you continue to stay motivated? What drives you?
I am aware of how fortunate I am to have a career that I wake up hungry for every day. It’s a delight to work in a space where you can bring happiness to people while fulfilling your own creative goals. I think the main motivation for me is that every single order is unique, even if it’s a plain and practical waist training corset, the delicacies of the silhouette will be completely personal to that client, and you have the pleasure of helping them to realise their own goals, be it confidence in themselves or a desire to enhance their appearance. I’m also lucky enough to have a number of returning clients, with whom you can develop a really lovely relationship over the years!
What advice would you give for fellow young entrepreneurs just starting out?
I think there has never been a more exciting time to start a creative business. The internet and social media allow us to communicate our brands and ideas on a relatively level playing field with the biggest names out there. You no longer need a prestigious store to be discovered by discerning clientele if you are successful in using the tools available to you. My main advice would be to know early that you will never stop learning, you will always be climbing the ladder of your own potential, and while that could be construed as intimidating, it’s thrilling to know that you’ll never be “done” with your craft, and your passion will carry you in any number of unexpected directions.
The Art of Corsetry
What makes the perfect corset?
For me it’s something quite hard to pinpoint but a truly divine corset casts a sort of spell on the wearer and the observer. It may not be the most elaborately decorated garment, it may be as simple as the way the style lines work against the wearer’s body but it has an allure that makes you analyse it, trying to chase down the elements that have captured your eye and your heart.
What would you advise to someone reading this who has never bought a corset before? Off the rack or custom made?
Naturally, I think that for those who can afford it, custom-made corsetry is the ultimate goal. A garment designed to fit you so intimately is improved immeasurably by echoing your unique dimensions, but I do feel that wearing corsetry and confidently expressing yourself sartorially is such a powerful experience that you should meet it at your budget’s level rather than setting arbitrary rules. If you have a smaller amount to spend then you can still get a nicely made off-the-rack corset by reading reviews at websites like Lucy’s Corsetry (lucycorsetry.com) to find out what suits your figure and tastes best. Equally, it allows you to experiment with styles and shapes before investing in something more tailored to your needs further down the line. I would always advise joining the forums and communities that exist for corset wearers on Facebook and Livejournal as you can share your thoughts and ask advice from people who’ve already purchased from the many companies available.
What is your favourite type to make and/or wear?
Oh this changes ALL the time! At the moment I am thrilled by the new dimensions that sheer corsetry has made possible. Using traditional silk mesh or strong and structural polyester mesh you can create the most exquisite corsets that highlight the engineering aspects of the construction whilst allowing you to layer beautiful lace for partial coverage or to trap objects between the sheer layers.
Do you have a favourite fabric you have used over the years?
Despite a number of ethical concerns which I’m researching alternatives into at the moment, I am endlessly drawn to the many incarnations of silk. Silk ribbons for ribbon corsets, silk satins in glowing jewel tones, delicate silk organza for layering over other fabrics and two-tone dupioni that look like hummingbird feathers. I feel there’s a timeless appeal to this exotic fibre that probably stems from my obsession with the East, particularly China, but also from the status that silk traditionally denotes.
Orchid Corsetry Collections
What are you main inspirations? What inspired your new collections?
Nature is always where my heart returns, and SS15’s “En Plein Air” collection became a love letter to my native country of Wales, where rugged beauty surrounds you at every turn. It became an incredibly personal collection that drew from my nostalgia at the lives lived and the treasured memories played out in the landscape. Each piece stems from a particular memory, and the sensory layers that build up that moment, the scent of blossom on warm night air, the blast of coastal breeze in spring, or the feel of soft grass underneath your fingers as you watch the light fade from the sky.
How does the design process work for you? (Do you begin with mood boards or concept theme and run with it?
At present I have a mood board built up on a cork board in my studio, I add to it and change it as ideas grow but it’s something that I look at every day and forms the basis of a theme as time passes. I have just chosen my theme for the next collection and know roughly how it’s going to go, but the next stage will be sketching and refining the concepts into something that is cohesive but with each piece being true to it’s own identity. I’m lucky enough to have some intelligent and creative folk to run my ideas past and to gauge how it’s going!
How long does a new collection take to put together?
It would be a full time job if you let it be! For me, collections are never really finished, they just reach a point where you have to release them! This is my first year of releasing two collections per year and it’s proving to be a really useful approach, it forces me to deadline myself strictly and to offer more variety of ideas, instead of focusing on trying to perfect one concept. I would say that the total planning covers a period of about 3 months for me, but naturally you can’t put a hold on client’s orders for that long, so regular work goes alongside it. You just have to create a few more hours in each day!
Where can we see your work in the future?
I am really interested in taking forward a slightly more minimal and structured aesthetic, following on from pieces like “En Régate” where a more graphic and linear embellishment was used, I’m also looking to showcase more of my fetish based work in the next collection. I find the greatest joy in the technical challenges that a commission like a locking corset provides, and I’m excited to reveal some feminine and graceful interpretations of a more hardware based approach. I love the idea of a corset that many people would consider extreme or hardcore in it’s intention but executed in flattering and elegant shades and fabrics that cater to sensory hedonists as well as more nefarious tastes.
And a couple of random questions I had to ask…
What is your favourite lipstick colour?
Oh, me and lipstick are uneasy bedfellows! I never wear it to work as the fear of it transferring onto something I’m making is dreadful, but I love warm, flattering nudes that suit my pale skin. My all time reliable shade is Lily Lolo- Parisian Pink. It never lets me down!
What brand of beauty could you not survive without?
Animal ethics are always my first question about a new beauty brand, so I live by Lush Ltd. I love the fact that not only are the products natural and feel indulgently glorious, but they support causes that are important to me, whilst campaigning for a better, fairer beauty industry. Lily Lolo is my favourite makeup brand as they are Vegan friendly and cater to the extremely pale folk like me with natural products that perform brilliantly. I have used them for about 8 years now and have never found anything that suits me as well!
How do you treat yourself? E.g. face masks, days out etc.
I’m an avid reader, so my down-time usually involves consuming books hungrily, especially fiction. I will read anything about imperial China or period detective dramas by Dorothy L Sayers! But I also love a really long, over-hot bath, usually involving a rose scented bath-bomb and a face pack with a pot of fancy tea. Whatever the problem, a bath is probably part of the answer. And if not, then it was a good start.
The images of the collections are all of the amazing Miss Miranda taken by Julian Kilsby. Both are on my 'I would live to interview' list so hopefully they will appear here in future.
Thank you to the lovely Bethan for taking the time for this interview :)
If you are looking for a really well made, stunning corset I would point you in Orchid Corsetry's direction. Me personally, I'm looking into the waist training options they offer alongside some cheeky wedding lingerie ;)
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