Black Friday, And A Little Moment Of Slow Creation.

Black Friday done right, a slowly made bespoke corset.
Halo Haynes wears the Artemis, shot by Artype Visuals

A Sprinkle Of Gold Dust On Black Friday

Black Friday is here again, folks! Brace yourselves for a whiplash turnaround after a global conference where we all agreed to consume less, and prepare for a frantic climate of deals and discounts. As in previous years, Orchid is not participating. I know from the wonderful reaction I’ve had from clients that you support this, and I feel so grateful! I fully back any independent brands that choose to take part, we all have to make a living after all. But for me, it stands against what I am for with this business. And that is making exquisite things slowly, with consideration and heritage. This with the understanding that someone will cherish, and feel empowered by each stitch and hand-tipped bone. You can’t rush that.

I thought long and hard about what to do as part of my quiet Black Friday non-observance this year. And I thought it would be fun to share with you a little of the process behind the velvet curtain. Or in my case, up the stairs in my attic lair! This is actually a piece I made at the start of 2020, and I photographed the different stages with the intention of making a little video of it. Naturally, this is something that fell by the wayside during the intense workload that came with the lockdowns. However, as it’s a corset that people still have a big reaction to, I thought it was worth reviving the idea! Scroll down to the bottom if you just want to watch the video without the chat.

The Artemis corset as an initial sketch with fabric selections.
Starting out with a sketch and some silks.

Sicily, Lockdowns and Silk Satins.

The original plan with this corset was for it to be a statement piece for the wonderful model Artemis Fauna, who was planning a photography trip to Sicily. I designed the piece with classic Goddess themes in mind. Soft warm shades, delicacy, richness and femininity. I also set myself the challenge of working with what I had in the studio, so this piece was designed around some remnant pieces of silk satin that blended together beautifully and had the desired effect of lending a feeling of otherworldly grace.

Sadly, as we journeyed towards March it became clear that Artemis was going to have to cancel her trip as airports closed and travel shut down. It was devastating for her, as such a significant part of her work was made impossible overnight. Thankfully, she has been able to shoot with it since! Here is a beautiful shot by David Brown from earlier this year.

Artemis Fauna in a lavish bespoke corset, shot by David Brown.
Artemis Fauna, shot by David Brown Photography

We were also lucky enough to send this corset to other models and photographers. There was a beautiful set from Halo Haynes and Artype Visuals which I thought should feature in the video, as they showcased the dreaminess of the corset so nicely! It’s a real joy to see how different artists interpret your work and bring out something new.

So without further ado, I give you the making of Artemis, from sketch to shoot. I hope this gives you some insight into the layers of technique involved in corsetry. And remember to shop small and slow this Black Friday!

Video- Unboxing A Precious Locking Corset

Close up of locking corset straps

Ready for some more locking corset related fun? It’s been such a long time since I sat down to write to you. Yes, the shop is still “shut” though we are accepting orders from patient folk who don’t have deadlines, so the list isn’t getting much shorter! Aside from a half plan to open for a day on our 15th birthday next month, it’s looking likely that we’ll stay shut for a while, catching up! I feel very lucky to have my order books so hectic with your unique and beautiful commissions. Thankyou for your trust, I never take it for granted.

So, as a result of me locking myself out of the studio today I’ve finally edited a Youtube video I filmed last November! There are one or two more locking corset videos already filmed and plenty more to come, looking at the commissions I have waiting to be completed! This piece was made for a male client and follows a similar style to the first locking corset I shared in January 2020, a stripped back design featuring graceful interlocking straps. The main difference with this corset is that it has the soft touch of luxury silk satin both outside and in! The silk lining to this corset is hard to photograph due to the number of bones (more on that later) but the soft stroke as you run your fingers over it’s rigid construction is absolutely delicious.

This is another corset featuring continuous boning, whereby I fit as many bones into the corset as possible. On this piece, that totalled 78 steel bones, an impressive 25 metres of spiral steel boning! Naturally this made for an extremely heavy and armour-like corset, and with corsets like these, sometimes the weight plays a part in the fun for the wearer. The corset also uses a stiff and sculpted spoon busk for lower abdomen support and a fully steel boned modesty panel.

One of the reasons I made this video in the way I did was that I thought it would be nice for people who haven’t yet had the pleasure, to experience the frisson of unboxing a bespoke corset. When you sign for your package and feel the trepidation of what comes next, we may have been working on your commission together for months, or even a year. There is so much expectation, and curiosity, perhaps even a little reverence for something we have both invested such time and resources into. Parting the tissue paper, feeling the tactile surface of your new corset for the first time, this is a first encounter with your new second skin, and it shouldn’t be rushed.

Without further ado I invite you to join me in a serene, joyful few minutes of exploring a new corset for the first time, I hope soon you can experience it first hand! If you’re ready to breathe life into your new corset, you know you can always contact us to discuss ideas.

Hitting Pause- A Temporary Shop Hiatus

Heledd corset, rear view, new in shop

As I turn over the “back in 10 minutes” sign on the virtual shop door I thought it was worth putting up a explanation for anyone who missed my earlier social media post. If you are wondering what’s going on, I’ve made the difficult decision to temporarily close the online shop as of Sunday 11th April. What this means is that made-to-order styles like our Seirian, Perle and Adara will not be available online for the forseeable future. The reason for this is that I try to keep the shop at a 4-6 week turnaround and right now, I can’t hope to keep up with that on my current waiting list! Demand means I’m currently booking in July/ August work so in order to make sure everyone gets the service they deserve I will reopen the shop when I’ve got better turnaround times to offer to you lovely people.

You can still place bespoke orders as usual (bearing in mind the long lead time!) and if you’re happy with the wait on delivery you can send me a message at any time to get added onto that list! Naturally, if you already have an order placed with me that still stands.

Needless to say, I’m still here doing what I’ve always done, and just to prove I haven’t been idle, I released a new style last month! You can check out Heledd here, a standard size stealthing corset suitable for daily wear, with multiple options to help you get a great fit.

Model wears Heledd corset in grey

Last but not least, I’ve added a new item to the shop that will remain live during the shut down. A bespoke design pathway! When you enquire about a bespoke order and we have worked out the basic details I will be asking you to purchase one of these to take us to the next stage of design development. It’s not an extra charge but a downpayment of sorts on the time taken to work on your ideas, taken off your final balance payment when you place your order. This allows me to give my focus to clients who are ready to commit to the design process as time is so short these days. Thankyou to everyone who has embraced it so far! Seeing how you readily value my time and energy has been really touching. Including some people who have purchased one before we’ve even spoken! I feel endlessly blessed with the clients I have gathered in this little nook of the internet! You’re good eggs, as my gran would say.

 

Black Friday is Out- Buying with Pleasure Is Back.

Meriel Overbust with black lace

I’m sure none of you have missed the memo- Black Friday started a month early this year, and it just hasn’t stopped. It is LOUD out there and I’ve never been one for shouting. Many of you will be unsurprised to hear that, as last year, I will not be joining in the Black Friday melee. What I will be doing is sharing some great independent brands who deserve recognition for their incredible work, and, if you can spare it, a fair price for their labour.

I’ll be very honest here- I have written the remainder of this blog post a few times now. I have railed on about how independent brands that don’t get supported this Christmas will not be here next year. I’ve written a heartbroken rant about how Brexit is threatening my own business very personally as of 1st January (that one will probably still get released when I’ve reigned it in a bit) But I actually wanted this post to be about the satisfaction and JOY of buying with a business that genuinely needs and covets your individual order. Naturally I hope you will choose to continue buying with me, and I hope there will be some little Orchid parcels of love under some trees this Christmas. However I felt it was more in the right spirit to fight the Black Friday/ Amazon juggernaut with some solidarity and to showcase some great talents! I hope you find something that excites you.

Your Future Treasures…

Logandria- Illustrated silk scarves and artwork for lingerie lovers.

Logan is an artist who creates rich aesthetic worlds, full of adventurous midnight spellcasters, lovers feasting in opulent gardens, and mythic figures in whimsical scenarios. How can I put it better than she has? “Deliciously hedonistic 100% silk scarves illustrated with scenes of mythology, fantasy, queer love, the natural world, and soft eroticism” Many of her designs are strictly NSFW but the beauty of her scarves is that you can be wearing something utterly inappropriate to your important meeting, but if you tied it right, no-one need know!

This year I have several beautiful scarves from Logan (most as part of an exchange) a print of her infamous Garden Party scene for my studio, and she has even made a custom illustration of one of my designs which will be in your orders soon when I get around to printing my care cards!

Why will it bring you joy? Not only are you supporting an artist who has created an astonishing portfolio of work, but her creations are full of colour, deep with stories, and bursting with charming detail that you will keep discovering anew. I can hand on heart say a gift from Logandria is a treasure to adore year after year.

https://logandria.com/

Blue reign– Vegan leather lingerie, power dressing for the boudoir.

Blue reign bra- black friday alternatives

I came across London based brand Blue reign before their official launch, and I just found myself really drawn to the atmosphere Alyx was creating. There was a clear communication of strength, confidence and sensuality that shone through. I also really appreciated the vegan leather angle, as a lifelong veggie! In Alyx’s own words “Everything must exude a fierce sense of confidence, an overzealous sensuality and above all, the complete ownership of your sense of self”

This year I took the plunge and added a Nova K bra to my collection. It is everything I hoped it would be- decadent, vampish, and beautifully, beautifully made. I’m a huge sucker for packaging, and Blue Reign truly presents your purchase like a gift to be lingered over.

Why will it bring you joy? I have watched a video of Alyx being extremely real and sharing a bra she had made that she just wasn’t happy to send to a customer, explaining her process, and why she would rather start from scratch at cost to herself than send out something “that wasn’t fit for a queen” and that is honestly the attitude you deserve from EVERYONE you work with.

https://bluereign.london/

Pillowbook– Conscious, compellingly made lingerie, unlike anything else you have discovered.

Pillowbook lingerie

What is the Pillowbook look? Heirloom pieces that draw deeply from traditional Chinese designs with contemporary flair and bold colour. Techniques that are precise, graceful, feminine in a fresh and un-familiar way. As a maker I have enormous fascination with how other artists work, the nitty gritty of stitch and fold, and the gentle perfection of Lu’s simplest creations is very simply a mastery.

I was restrained and just treated myself/ my insomnia to a sleep mask from Pillowbook- I use it most nights and I honestly think everyone needs one! It’s pure silk and she uses silk scraps from her work to stuff them so they are fluffy, soft and really block out the daylight! I spent some time just delighting in the little mesh carry bag it came with. Everything is pure beauty despite it being truly functional.

Why will it bring you joy? Lu is not only a master of her craft, but she is conscious of not wasting a scrap of silk that passes through her hands. She created an entire range to piece together fragments, back into the luxury garments they belong as.

http://www.love-pillowbook.com/

Figure of A– Shibari inspired accessories for the erotic aesthete

There is forever a part of me sworn to lace and silk, however the industrial and intricate world Figure of A have created draws me in every time. “Edgy, architectural, feminine and body-aware, Figure of A pieces function equally well as part of your everyday styling as they do as part of a fetish-heavy ensemble.”

Earlier in the year I bought an Eri choker from Anna- I work with a lot of bondage pieces and there is something grounding and thrilling about the weight of the metal, the smooth symmetry of the knots… Everything is beautiful quality, precise and purposeful with a flourish of movement.

Why will it bring you joy? Another proud “made in Britain” brand creating their own niche in a crowded marketplace. The subversion of a decorative bondage practice that you can make part of your everyday wear! Treat yourself to a harness and turn some heads! This is the sign you’ve been waiting for!

https://figureofa.com/

I hope I’ve been able to introduce you to some makers you might not have heard of. Perhaps even encourage you to become patrons! They are all very deserving of your appreciation, this Black Friday and beyond. I suppose I would just ask everyone to shop slower, to gift consciously, and remember how joyful it can be to choose something deliberately and consciously, not racing against a timelapse coupon! Makers like these are waiting to give you an experience, and to offer you something made with care and consideration.

We are pretty much fully boked for this year but keep an eye on our sale section as I may be adding a few bits and pieces here as December moves on! Newsletter subscribers get the first heads up so remember to subscribe if you haven’t already.

Take care of yourselves, I wish you a very peaceful and happy festive season, full of warmth and love and great company. And… maybe a corset under the tree! But only if you’ve been very, very good.

“Little Foxglove” Feminine Locking Corset

front view of Little Foxglove locking corset

It seems fitting somehow that the deprivations and constraint of this year’s lockdowns and upheavals have given rise to some of the most opulent and elaborate requests of my career. The trend predictors suggest that economic struggle usually prompts a demand for minimalism and pared down style, however I see things differently; a hunger for escapism wherever we can get it. Denied our holidays and adventures to places filled with exotic colour, we seek something within ourselves, in the safety and sanctuary of our homes. As our worlds shrink outside, we want to broaden our horizons in other ways.

Little Foxglove was one of those commissions that ensnared my imagination from the first contact. The locking corsetry that I make had garnered a lot of attention but I was itching to take the structures and mechanisms used on previous pieces somewhere different. When Terra got in touch looking for a rich feminine aesthetic with full locking capabilities, I knew we were on the same page.

close up of padlock on Little Foxglove corset

From the first communication it was clear that I was working with an articulate and thoughtful individual who had really considered what elements were important to him for construction and styling. Terra is a male corset enthusiast, whose wife was excited to see him locked securely into his corset, however they wanted the locks and hardware itself to be as minimal as possible to benefit the soft styling we were working towards. Terra were also open to input from me on design and I was only too happy to oblige! Working with clients who have a strong starting point for our project but want a little guidance on the details leaves room for so much creativity.

close up of lace detail on Little Foxglove corset

After some discussion we had a plan for our design for Little Foxglove; an underbust style in a complex and nostalgic shade of silk satin, embellished with champagne Chantilly lace for a refined and sophisticated colour contrast. The corset would have fully locking panels at the back to cover the lacing, fastening at the front with a locking buckle. The strong busk front would be covered by a locking zip (meaning no padlock was required to secure it) and a subtle Edwardian shape was agreed upon.

locking zip front detail on corset

I often use an Edwardian cut on feminine corsets for male bodies to visually rebalance the body proportions, as we would classically see a longer distance between underbust and waist and much shorter distance between waist and hips than on a style for female bodies, where these lengths are often around 50:50. The slight dip at the underbust level serves to shorten the effect above the waist, and the flowing low hip shape helps to lengthen the body at that point and also to infer more fullness. The majority of my clients aren’t interested in padding their bodies for greater curves, aside from bust enhancement, so using my skills with cut and design is how we get the most impact!

I’m constantly asked how long it takes me to make a corset, and it’s a very hard question to answer. A simple piece that’s already cut out could be made in 6-8 hours, but a piece like Little Foxglove works out around 2 weeks full time work, say 80 to 100 hours. And I’m not including pattern making or client communication in that time! One of the main reasons this particular corset took so long was the lace work.

The time seems to come far more from planning the placement and being sure that before you’ve sewn any crucial seams, you have any lace that needs to be pre-sewn taken care of. It’s a very logistical process, in which you don’t have much room to deviate from the ideal path! I often spend a whole day on the locking panels, hand basting layers together, plotting lace placement so that it has a chance to blend with other sections on the corset, even though it’s position will alter depending on how tightly the corset is laced each time. Hours pass so quickly when you’re intent on your task and your scissors quietly snip away, revealing flourishes of lace.

locking panels mid construction

Finishing the corset is more handsewing, finishing the binding and any last additions to the lace design (it can be hard to know when you’re done!) and lacing Little Foxglove with her cream satin ribbons. Stronger laces are sent with the corset but, well, sometimes a girl just needs ribbons! One of my favourite details is the post for the padlock that secures the zip fastening. As we wanted minimum impact for the hardware I used lace to help blend it in a little! There is also a lace embellished pouch to slip the padlock at the waist onto, and a little belt loop to keep everything tidy!

Sending a piece like this out is always an unnerving and vulnerable moment. You have tried your best to interpret a client’s vision, in this case working from measurements I wasn’t able to take myself, and you just hope that everything has come together in a way that your client loves and feels connected to. Receiving this message and images from Terra reassured me that Little Foxglove had met with a wonderful reception!

“Thankyou so much for this experience! I have never felt this feminine and pretty before, with the obvious exception of my wedding day!”

Being able to work towards a moment like that is a very moving part of my job. How we feel in our own skin is so important.

If you have your own inspiration you want to breathe life into, please don’t hesitate to contact us– we are still working through lockdown and eager for more adventures in silk and steel!

*Please note that I sought Terra’s permission before sharing his stories and photos- if you prefer anonymity that is perfectly understood and respected*

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