Today’s guest post is by Catherine Deadly, the smart and talented lady behind Kiss Me Deadly. A week or so ago, she sent over some photos from one of her intern’s final collections, and I was so impressed that I begged her to let me share them here.
As an added bonus, Catherine did a little write-up about how people break into the lingerie industry. I love learning about this kind of “behind the scenes” stuff, and I hope you do too. Let me what you think in the comments!
I just spent Sunday, which was pretty much the first day of Summer in the UK, in a darkened room, getting Morgana in and out the worlds most complicated lingerie, and getting a grazed chin which was totally worth it, ’cause look:
These are not my designs. These pieces are by Lizzie Hobcraft’s, a very talented lingerie student who is just about to graduate from the De Montford University Contour Degree. Yes, that’s right, an entire degree on knickers. Well, maybe not just knickers, but definitely lingerie. It’s a 3 year course, and unlike some of the fluffier fashion courses out there, graduates come out knowing a good bit about the technical issues in designing and sampling lingerie, swimwear, corsetry and the like.
What it doesn’t teach is anything remotely related to how you apply that to paying your rent, or how it ends up being used in the real world. So students spend their holidays with companies, of all sizes, where they often get very boring work handed to them, in return for being able to see it all in operation. As you can imagine these placements vary as much as the companies do. I generally don’t offer them, because I work from home with two cats who like to sleep on the samples; its not exactly a buzzing workplace.
But last year Lizzie convinced me to give it a whirl. Turns out I know a little something about shapewear and hosiery (and sales tax in the UK, which I’m sure she’s just thrilled about), plus I get to have fun playing with outfits we can never, ever put into production. Because the thing with the final year of the lingerie degree is that they do a graduation project, a dissertation in underwear, and they are encouraged to do the most outrageously complicated, unconventional, and frankly downright ridiculous things they can.
In the weeks leading up to her dissertation, Lizzie and I visited all sorts of architectural oddities, mainly suspension bridges, which led to her collection being called Suspense. She also developed a Hitchcockian theme to tie it all together, and we got Morgana to model everything . These pictures will never be used for retail (well, except for the Cervin stockings in Turquoise/black), because the lingerie shown is insanely complicated. The trousers alone (once you factor in boning, layers, silver metallic trim, unbelievably expensive vintage lace, quality blue satin, and yards and yards of ribbon, grommets, & complications) would cost approximately £700! And you’d still have to worry about putting your lovers eye out!
But the point of the graduate project isn’t to make a commercial piece of lingerie – its to show off your creativity, your inspirations, your “directional“ fashion sense, and pushing the boundaries…in the hope that you’ll have amazing pieces in your portfolio to impress potential employers with. And some of the touches that are actually the most unusual aren’t necessarily something you’d see from the pictures. For example, the panelling on the corsetry isn’t just a satin overlay on a conventional corset, Lizzie actually constructed the shapes from horizontal panels, which is unusual. The back of the cincher? Fan lacing, something I’ve been periodically obsessing over for a while, with fan lace components used with satin straps to make the fit of the matching thong. And I’m still fascinated as to how the futuristic silver tubing actually looks great with the seriously retro lace.
So, basically, this is the “conventional” route into lingerie: do something as unconventional as you can, show it everyone in the world, and hope they hire you! And no I can’t hire her, ’cause we’re not big enough yet. I’m just settling for being a bad influence instead. Did you notice there’s 6 garter tabs on some of those things?! I mean, that’s just strange. ;)