I got a call from Vogue back in April about contributing a corset for their Autumn fashion story. This was due to be shot by Mario Testino for the all-important September issue. It’s a long held ambition of mine to appear in something so prestigious, and the honour was overwhelming! You can read more about the Vogue project in this post if you’re curious. The release was also due to coincide with Orchid’s tenth birthday, so that was a pair of milestones that couldn’t be left unmarked!
After some thought I decided to build a mini collection of standard sized waspies around the Vogue sample to release alongside the magazine. I felt standard sizing would make the corsets more accessible to people looking to build the look into their personal styling. I’m often aware that people would love to invest in corsetry but find bespoke prices too much of a reach, and the process too daunting.
Vogue’s fashion story planned to feature corsets as outerwear, laced over coats for a structured Autumn look. They’d developed a military theme, suggested through the colours and simplicity of their moodboard. I took this as a cue to develop this strong aesthetic in a way more personal to my brand. The colour palette was based around earth tones and neutral shades with matte textures for the fabrics and gold fittings. I sought to balance the masculinity of military styling with a feminine silhouette and the flattering cut of the corset. The sweeping shape of a dipping underbust line meeting the delicate detail of contrast stitching. Gold hardware encased in a warm ochre, textured strap. Dress uniform braiding echoed in ornate gold lace.
I now live with my dear friend Sally Sparrow, who, helpfully enough is a prolific fashion photographer. Consequently this means that every evening is spent throwing around creative ideas! As a result we ended up talking about using a paintball ground as our location. Our model, the gorgeous Chilli Chapel found us Netley Hall, a Shropshire stately home with extensive grounds. These included a wooded paintball area complete with totem poles, abandoned caravans and log cabin! The setting offered a really rich aesthetic- allowing us to juxtapose a glamorous, dangerous female presence with distressed and decimated surroundings.
Upon arrival we could hardly believe our luck, encountering even more potential for striking images than we could possibly use in a day. The shoot flowed effortlessly, as I find things do with Salleh, moving between outfits, locations and poses with intuition and perfect timing. We also had the pleasure of having James McKnight on make-up, creating dramatic looks on set. I was thrilled by the way that our images felt linked while each look had it’s own mood and atmosphere.
With the final images here to treasure, I feel hugely proud, to launch into Orchid’s tenth year of creativity with a collection so strong. Each image is resonant with emotion and packed with atmosphere. I also feel it was an interesting direction for me stylistically, perhaps one I would not have traveled without the nudge from Vogue. But exploring it has been a pleasure for me, and I hope you enjoy the corsets, should one end up in your possession!