Corsets From Stratford to Toronto
September 23, 2010
The Creativ Festival; one of North America’s largest sewing and crafting events, will be the venue for a very unique fashion show and exhibit: “Corsets – Fabulous Fashion Accessories” in Toronto. The subject matter is unique in it’s self but what makes this show very special is the fact that every one from the corset makers to the models are volunteers and some have never made a corset before! Over 20 people have worked both independently and together to create works of art that happen to be corsets – but not underwear. Most of these people are from the Stratford area but some are from London and Brantford and a few are from outside of Ontario.
Rita Gramsch of the Creativ Festival and Linda Sparks of Farthingales began discussion about this project shortly after last years Festival. By March of 2010 Linda was connecting with people to see if there would be enough interest to develop the corset fashion show idea and remarkably almost everyone who signed on is still with the project. Linda is the owner of Farthingales and Farthingales L.A. both of which focus on corset making supplies and corsets, but she didn’t want to design or build all the corsets. She wanted to see fresh approaches and was willing to coach anyone who needed help, though she’s found little coaching on her part has been needed as people are helping each other out. Linda comments: “It’s been a remarkable experience to see all these corsets come to life. Many of the corset makers are artists in their own rite so they’ve brought skills to the table that I don’t have and they’ve brought fresh perspective as to what a corset can be.” “No one has all the skills that this team of women & men (yes we have two) posses as a group and that’s what will make this show very one of kind. Each member of the group designed the corsets they wanted to make and they talked about their designs with me so I was sure no two projects would be similar and none are. I then advised on construction, if they needed or wanted support or I teamed them up with someone else who had the skills they didn’t.”
The diversity of interpretations of what a corset can be is exceptional because so many people are involved. There will be a fairly classic Victorian corset and petticoat look but you’ll also see corsets that appear to be knit, covered in bobbin lace (the lace is being hand made as this is written), made from hand woven fabric designed specifically piece by piece for the corset, and one will even be made from welded steel by the woman who will model it. “It’s a lot of work to organize a show of this size, we’ll have over 30 corsets on the runway and there are over 20 corset makers but it has hardly seemed like work because everyone is excited about what they’re doing and that excitement is contagious and motivating.” says Linda who is overseeing every aspect of the show. So what does she hope to gain from producing this event? “I hope that people will see corsets in a new light – let go of old perceptions of underwear and sex and see corsets as a fashion accessory and an art form. I also hope it will inspire people to sew, this show just might give young people something to aspire to since we’ll have simple corsets on the runway and incredible corsets out there to.” “I also think we representing the “Canadian Way” as this process has been the “anti-project-runway” approach, no one is competing everyone is offering ideas and construction advice when someone indicates they need help. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with a team approach,”
The Corset Fashion Show will be held at 1:00 Friday, October 22nd at the Metro Toronto Convention Center during the Creativ Festival. Some corsets will be on display during the 3 day event at booth 838. www.creativfestival.ca
Can’t get to the show? Follow it here on the blog http://farthingalescorsetblog.blogspot.com OR pick-up a copy of “A Needle Pulling Thread” a Canadian needle arts magazine where one corset’s progress is being followed in a 3 part article. http://www.aneedlepullingthread.com/
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