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September: My Month in Lingerie!

By: Karolina

From new corsets to London Fashion Week, the past month or so has been a whirlwind of lingerie madness. It has in fact been so busy that I ended up with a whole three articles to share with you. Rather than agonising over which single piece to share with you, I’ve ended up cutting them all into bite-sized pieces so you can get an insight into my end-of-summer lingerie adventures: starting with getting my hands on one of the most gorgeous corsets I’ve ever seen…

The Beginning
I don’t profess myself to be a corset aficionado by any means; they’re far too expensive a hobby for me to get into properly. I know enough about them to know that unlike other lingerie (the likes of bras, knickers et al.), off-the-rack is never good enough.

Consequently, a made-to-measure corset is not something you buy on a whim. As far as lingerie goes, it should be a serious investment with careful consideration lavished over it.

Nevertheless, my purchasing of a Sian Hoffman corset girdle was somewhat of a whim. For some time I’d resigned myself to thinking that her designs were yet another thing I’d lust over but never own. Starting at £395 at Fairy Goth Mother, funding such a purchase with a student loan would be ridiculous.

So imagine my surprise when my daily Tumblr trawl revealed that someone was selling their custom-made Sian Hoffman girdle. That fact alone was already enough to pique my interest, but when I saw the asking price and the measurements, my jaw dropped. Affordable and made to almost my exact body shape. My decision was immediate.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to when the corset was in my possession. Even from a brief glance, you can tell that Sian Hoffman’s work is something special. There’s an incredible amount of attention to detail, with precise and exquisite decorative stitching, cording and gorgeous lace. The shape of the unworn garment is striking by itself – it’s obvious that this garment has been made to give the waist some serious shaping.

And this is precisely what it does – once on the body, it gives you breath-taking curves. I manage to get a four-inch reduction with ease. It’s also shocking how comfortable this girdle is; even with the greatest waist reduction, it is not nearly as restrictive as any of my other corsets (including other made to measure ones!). This could well be due to the incomparable construction, or maybe due to the materials.

Large parts of the girdle are made from powernet and so offer some flexibility, yet the steel boning gives it the shaping power of a corset. The longline shape also gives extra control for those wobbly bits around your tummy – a feature I’ve become very grateful to after having a little too much for dinner, even if the ribbon lacing feature is somewhat fiddly.

There is little else I could complain about; this girdle lacks a modesty panel and the garter tabs are not removable, though this all comes down to a matter of personal preference and would be easily changed in a custom order I’m sure.

As limited as my experience with corsets/girdles is, I wholeheartedly recommend Sian Hoffman’s work. The quality is simply incomparable. I can only hope that in the future I’ll have the opportunity to order a custom piece!

The Middle
On Thursday 15th September Pippa and I were invited to a Nichole de Carle press event, where we had a look at the new Spring/Summer 2012 collection and had a chat with Nichole herself about the brand….

NdC has always been one of my favourite designers – her signature architectural style, luxurious silks, and muted colour palettes manage to create a look that’s both edgy and classic. This aesthetic has carried over into SS12, with new styles and colourways being introduced into both the ‘Onyx’ and ‘Opal’ sides of the collection.

Onyx is the more celebrity- and fashion-driven side of the brand: recent additions include a nougat and black version of the custom Tuxedo body that was made for Nichole Scherzinger. This side of the collection underlines the ‘underwear as outerwear’ trend stronger than ever with the introduction of waspies and basques.

Opal is the more commercial side: ‘everyday luxury’ in Nichole’s words. There seems to be a slightly new loungewear direction to this collection, with the addition of slips with hints of NdC’s signature strapping.

Also new to this season is perhaps the ultimate in luxury lingerie: exclusively for Christmas at Selfridges, Nichole will be releasing silk knickers with genuine diamond charms. Handmade in Hatton Garden, London, by jeweller Salima Hughes, these delicate charms have the NdC crest engraved on the back. They are the start of what Nichole hints to be a series of collectors’ items, suggesting the likes of ruby charms for Valentine’s day. As far as romantic gestures go, I can imagine they’d be a sure-fire hit with any lingerie addict.

I’m particularly impressed with NdC’s efforts to keep manufacturing close to home – all of the Onyx label is produced in the Chelsea London studios whilst Opal is outsourced to Romania. Talking to Nichole, it is clear that this ethical side of the business is important to her: she hints that she’s seen unpleasant factory conditions before and doesn’t want them to be part of her business.

I’d like to thank Nichole for hosting such a lovely evening – we had a thoroughly wonderful time perusing her exquisite silk underthings and it was great to speak to the designer herself!

The End
Put yourself in my position: a student with dreams of one day being a lingerie designer about to embark on her first year of university. The last thing you’d expect is being asked to design for well-established directional brand Yes Master. For their ultra-luxe Black Label collection. To be released at London Fashion Week.

Yet somehow that’s what ended up happening to me.

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. On top of trying to pack my entire life into boxes to prepare to move to Leicester, I’ve been hand-applying hundreds of individual Swarovski crystals to one of the most fabulously decadent lingerie collections I’ve ever come across.

I was initially asked to come up with some sort of accessory or cover-up for the collection. Of course, with my design sensibilities, nothing goes with delicate silks, chiffons, and tulles like a heavy dose of leather and studs, all topped off with lashings of Swarovski crystals.

There’s no better way to learn why luxury lingerie costs what it does than being involved in the production. High quality materials don’t come cheap – add to that the hours of hand labour involved and even for a pair of knickers you’re looking at triple figures.

So onto my piece – not strictly lingerie but designed as an accompaniment. A decadent twist on an existing design of mine: a black leather shoulder harness with crosses made of pyramid studs and encrusted in thousands of Swarovski crystals. ‘A luxurious and wearable twist on bondage imagery,’ to steal the words from the marketing collateral.

Then of course came the launch of the entire collection at London Fashion Week – one of the major events on the worldwide fashion calendar. It’s safe to say that Yes Master being asked to exhibit is a major step forward in the cause that lingerie is a fashion too. After all, the buyer response was phenomenal. It was nigh on impossible to get past the stand during the cocktail event!

All of these happenings still seem somewhat surreal. Now that it’s all over I’ve been forced straight back into the reality of packing up to move home and preparing for university life – miles away from the glamour of the fashion world! Yet I know that this isn’t the end of this experience – I’ve been informed that people have actually placed orders for my piece. It looks like I’ll be setting Swarovski crystals for a while yet….

And now as September draws to a close, I’ve found myself officially enrolled at De Montfort University’s Contour Fashion degree…. On the 30th we’ll be visiting the world’s most comprehensive corset collection at the Snibston Museum followed by our very first project…. Let the adventures begin!

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

5 Comments on this post

  1. Hnnnh says:

    Best of luck to Karolina, and congratulations on your university position. I myself am in a similar position – university impending; I can sympathise with most of this post.

    Due to my odd proportions, the last two weeks have been somewhat rueful, and corsetry (best not attempted off-the-shelf, whatsoever); Sian Hoffman's work is not going to present itself to my student budget. Well done Karolina.

  2. Karolina says:

    Thank you everyone! Catherine – I have indeed been credited and got to meet everyone at LFW among other things, it's been an amazing experience :)

  3. Catherine says:

    That was nice of Igor – what did you get in return, were you credited anywhere or get to meet the press/buyers at fashion week and so on?

  4. duncan bannatyne says:

    i think Karolina is the next big thing in lingerie. plus she is do god dam sexy.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think I have corset envy with this lady. Great blog post again, Karolina. I always enjoy reading them.

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