The Pursuit of Metamorphosis
When I tell people about what I do (and sometimes, after I’ve explained what a corsetiere actually is) people usually tell me that I’m lucky. And they are so right. Everyday, I wake up fizzing with the excitement of the day’s tasks, because the beauty of bespoke work is that no two days are alike. Today I may be working on a simple, structured waist training corset, tomorrow I could be drafting a pattern for a fetish-inspired corset dress with extreme curves. And the day after that? Well, who can say. It’s a wonderful life, and I feel privileged to live it.
Behind The Sewing Machine
My name is Bethan, and I started Orchid in 2006 when my habit of sewing under the table while on my illustration degree became rather counterproductive. Corsets were a compulsion with me. I can trace my fascination back to my love of Disney films as a child, those romantic willowy waists enraptured me. Corsets are the way you confound reality to achieve something nature never intended to give you, and what a gift that is.
I have also been astonished by the ways in which a corset can affect a person’s emotions and confidence. Their armour-like construction makes you feel safe and protected. I have worked with clients who have autism, who use a corset to create a mobile safe space, helped survivors to reclaim their body after an acid attack, to celebrate overcoming cancer. What other garment can offer you so much?
Songs and Stories
My practice has always been rooted in storytelling, and this is something I’ve really embraced in recent years as my clients arrive with ever deeper and more personal tales of learning to love corsetry. I suspect a large part of this is my high number of male and AMAB clients, who often have complex relationships with their sensuality or gender expression. It’s such an emotive and deep place to start from, and I relish the thought that I can use my design skills and my empathy to create something that transcends its purpose as a mere garment. I can write their story in every stitch, every time they had the bravery to embrace what they wanted, every trial overcome to stand as they are. If this speaks to you, you may enjoy my article on a client’s very precious commission, 3000 Miles, The Tale Of An S-Bend Corset Dress.
Crafting the Curve
Every corset that leaves the studio has been handmade by me, every piece of binding hand cut, every eyelet eased through the fabric with the greatest care.
Orchid spent a number of happy years in the heart of Shrewsbury, but I am currently working from a home studio in my beloved Mid Wales, fuelled by a lot of tea. Outside my window, I can watch storms crossing the hills, and hear birdsong in my neighbour’s pear tree. I like to think that the corsets leave with a little of this serenity infused into their fibres.
I’m often asked if I have a favourite commission. and that’s a really tricky one because it’s constantly changing! What I frequently find is clients choose combinations and styles that I would not have considered, and the surprise of those materials steadily growing into something complete and resplendent under my hands is pure joy. But here’s a recent piece that I loved making. This was designed especially for a model called Artemis Fauna, and our inspiration was the goddess roots of her name. I wanted to design something fit for the Elysian fields! You can see blending colours of silk satin alongside tonal layered lace, which I wanted to use to create the impression of verdigris, a patina of age and timelessness. You can see a video about this design below.
It’s a huge pleasure to welcome back people who return to us time after time, but new clients always bring a fresh perspective with them. So if you’re reading this while seeking a maker for a special project (they’re all special really!) then please get in touch and let’s talk about your ideas.