Indie Corsetiere Spotlight: Rosie Red's Fairy Tale Reverie
As an indie designer myself, I love seeing what my peers are up to in the world of corsetry. Recently a new designer has emerged: at 23 years old, Rosie Denningham of Rosie Red Corsetry & Couture is already well on her way to the top. Her design voice is unique and easily identifiable, and she's already had the honor of dressing one A-list celebrity. Rosie's curve-friendly designs are like something straight from a fairy tale. She's indulged me with an interview...
How long have you been making corsets and when did you officially launch your brand Rosie Red Corsetry and Couture?
I made my first ever 'real' corset in my second year of university, so that's about two and a half years ago. Wow, that's gone quickly! Rosie Red Corsetry & Couture started as a Facebook page to showcase my work and over the past year I have been building it as a brand. Although I am now working at this full time, with support from the Prince's Trust, and have showcased my Wild Roses collection at many catwalk and fashion events, I haven't actually 'launched' in any official kind of way. I will need a launch party. Yeah, there will definitely be a party. Love a party. Maybe a Language of Flowers party (the name of my new collection in current development).
Where did you learn the art of corsetmaking?
University [Birmingham Institute of Art and Design] was definitely a catalyst for me, but there is just so much you can learn in a few days. I think because I have a strong technical understanding of garments and patterning, corsetry seemed like the next challenge. I have interned all over the place, beginning with a visit to Miss Katie, who made Immodesty Blaize's orginal outfits. I have learnt so much from so many incredible corsetieres, maybe most importantly that there are so many different ways to do different things. The Oxford Conference of Corsetry enforced this even more.
I also read everything I could get my hands on about corsetry: Linda Sparks, Jill Salen, everything Valerie Steele; I bought Sew Curvy's ebook when it came out and Corsets: A Modern Guide by Velda Lauder. I basically Googled "corset book," and aimed to read all of the things. And I 'trial and errored' a zillion things. The first pair of knickers I made, for example, my tutor said 'looked more like dental floss...' I'm a very hands on kinda gal. I would rather do it and talk about it after, then talk about it and over analyse before I've even set about starting.
What resources do you recommend for other burgeoning corsetieres?
Intern where you can! Talk to people, ask questions and be curious. There is a fine line and an etiquette to do so, but you'd be surprised what you can learn from just being inquisitive. If you're unable to intern, for heaps of reasons, then I would absolutely advise going to a Sew Curvy class. Julia teaches in such a hands-on way and is just lovely with a wicked sense of humour.
And I know you didn't ask me to give any pearls of wisdom haha, but I would say: 'just do it'. The time you may have spent worrying about not being good enough, you could've spent improving!
My parents are both very creative. My mum used to make wedding cakes with these delicate and intricate sugar flowers and my dad is super musical. Our house is full of guitars, basses and other stringed instruments. Creativity was always really encouraged. As a little girl I was dressed up all the time. My dressing up box was my favourite 'toy,' and I often sellotaped and stapled my own outfits together.It was Jo from Rawhide corsets that inspired me to get into corset-making. She was a visiting tutor for the corsetry module at university and brought in a whole heap of corsets of all different shapes and sizes for us to try on and learn how to lace. It was single-handedly the best, most transformative thing I have ever worn. I realised that this was an item of clothing that actually did something to alter the body; I felt empowered and incredible.Jean-Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood and Coleen Atwood have got to be my favourite designers. Maybe a bit cliché, but it's the truth, and they are so popular and well-loved for good reason. I admire all of the corsetieres who are doing their own authentic thing, and I am lucky to have such great friends in such great designers. I recently showcased my collection alongside Neon Duchess at Oxford Fashion Week's Couture show. She's one to keep an eye on. I also have just received my own Sparklewren piece. I interned for Jenni while I completed my final year of uni, it was a total joy, as is her work and the lovely lady herself.
I currently do only make bespoke wear, this is because from having studied costume design you realise that no two bodies are the same. As I am specialising in bridal and event couture, these are garments that normally are taken to be altered after purchasing anyway, it makes sense to me to create patterns to the individuals shape from the get go.
Having said that, I absolutely have plans to grow and expand as a brand. For example, Jenny Packham offers a RTW line stocked in places such as Debenhams. The sky really is the limit, so I won't ever say, "never ever." Catering for all body shapes and types is key to my brand though, and by always offering a bespoke service this means that it will always be possible.
Signature design features are really key to making Rosie Red Corsetry & Couture the brand that it is. I want people to instantly be able to say 'that's a Rosie Red!' Authenticity is vital. I line my multi-layered corsets with red satin coutil, I like to think of this as the Louboutin effect. Also, it gives a bit of a POW when you have soft bridal colours lined with this buzz. Maybe it says something about my personality too.I also embroider words, poetry, prose and lyrics into my garments. These are often in hidden places that you need to search for. I like to think that clothing can hold secrets, and I never explain who I am writing for or about. English Literature was always my favourite at school and I read a lot. Words are just really beautiful. Another detail and maybe the most well-known is my 'rosie's roses'. No one has worked out how to make them yet, and if they do they will probably realise that they are far too time-consuming and patience-demanding to try to replicate. I absolutely adore them and I will be selling them as RTW hair clips and fascinators in the near future.
How do you select your models? Do you have any particular models or clients who serve as a muse to you?
I have so many messages daily from people asking how to model for me, it really is so flattering and yet so disappointing that unfortunately not everyone can. Miss Deadly Red is my absolute favourite for 'standard' sizing but with a curve too. She came about because I really wanted a red-head with an old-school vintage feel that could pull off a fairytale vibe. She is perfect and an absolute sweetheart.
My plus go-to ladies are model Evie Wolfe and blogger Georgina Horne (Fuller Figure Fuller Bust) they are hilarious, and just divine. I actually have made contact with several more models for something special I have lined up this year. I really want to represent all women and this means using women of all ages and also women with 'disabilities'. Personality and confidence is key, I want to have a fun and successful day shooting. A dirty sense of humour is always welcome.
Tell us about dressing Helena Bonham Carter! How did that come to be? Did you make something special just for her? Will we eventually see more images of her in your ensemble?
I received my email one year and a day ago telling me that Helena loved my work. Madness. I still don't know if it's fully sunk in. I think with hard work, positive thinking and a strong sense of ambition, you would be shocked at where you can end up. Some of the most frequent questions I get asked are 'did you get a selfie?' and 'did you take pictures on your phone?' Can you imagine how inappropriate and cringe[-inducing] that would have been! She is a totally amazing lady, but I was there because she wanted to see my work, not as a fan girl. Business head on. There are talks of things in the future... but that's all I am saying now...
Any other celebrities you'd like to dress for your bucket list?
There are heaps. I really strive to have my ensembles on the red carpet, and as a regular feature. Paloma Faith is top of the list at the moment. I think she would be the most hilarious character and her sense of style is just so on point. I just had a builder come and lay some flooring (glamorous life) and he said out of the blue that Paloma Faith would look perfect in my stuff, and he was sure she's next. So let's hope he's right, hey ;)
What do you think is next for you?
As I always say, world domination.
But as a side note the next step for me is to build Rosie Red Corsetry & Couture as a sustainable and growing business, with the help of The Prince's Trust. I aim to keep bringing diversity into the industry, and to make more individuals feel utterly beautiful. I have a feeling that things have a mad way of working out, so I'm just really excited for the journey...
What do you think of Rosie Red's work? Do you own any Rosie Red corsetry? In a fantasy land, what sort of piece would you order from her?