In September of 2015, after attending the Oxford Conference of Corsetry, Ian and Corina Voller (Vollers Corsets) invited me to stay with them for a few days and see their factory in Portsmouth, England. They are the current owners of the longest surviving corset manufacturer in England, and it was incredible to see how their facilities and their company has evolved over time – and what values have stayed the same.
See the interview below, and use the timestamps below the video to jump ahead in the video if certain questions interest you more.
0:55 Tell us how you got started. I understand that Vollers was first launched by Harry and Nelly Voller in 1899 – do you know why they had such an interest in corsets at the turn of the century?
3:50 During wartime or around the 70s and 80s when the corset was less popular, how did your factory stay up and running? Do you manufacture anything else here apart from corsets?
6:50 How have your patterns and styles changed over the years? Do you have any corsets to compare then vs now?
8:20 What do you think about the recent corset revival in the past several years? Have you needed to make any changes to cater to the new clientele, for instance those interested in waist training?
10:05 Since your company has survived for so long and has a long-term view of the corset industry, what do you think will happen next?
11:00 Tell us a bit about your employees and how the construction process is run smoothly. How are tasks assigned?
13:20 How many hours does it take to create a single underbust corset in your factory, and how many hands does it pass through?
15:20 What is your favorite part about working in corsetry? What is your least favorite aspect (the most boring task, or a certain pet peeve about the industry)?
16:25 Who is your target market? Who do you love to sell to?
19:30 Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Huge thanks to Corina and Ian Voller for hosting me for a few days, giving a tour around the factory, and agreeing to sit down for this interview! Readers can learn more about Vollers Corsets on their website.
In August and September 2015, I attended the Oxford Conference of Corsetry and met Katie Thomas (What Katie Did) in person. I’ve been emailing with Katie for close to 5 years so it was amazing to finally have the opportunity to meet someone you admire in the corset industry face-to-face. Directly following the conference, I spent a few days at Katie’s house and we visited Basilton Park, and Katie gave me a tour of her London Boutique and headquarters.
Skip ahead in the video to hear her answers to the following questions:
0:30 How did you become interested in retro fashion?
0:55 How did you start your business and why did you choose the name What Katie Did?
1:50 After starting your business selling stockings, shapewear, etc, how did you become interested in corsets, and how did you start incorporating corsets into your business?
2:35 You’ve been in this industry for 15 years now, so how have you seen the corset and retro lingerie industry change?
3:10 What do you think of the waist training trend, and how do you think your products fit into this trend?
3:55 Would you say that your corsets are suitable for waist training now?
4:30 You’ve found a niche with higher-end, ready-to-wear corsets that are better quality than the budget OTR corsets, but not quite as high as bespoke corsets offered by independent corsetieres. Was it a deliberate decision to settle your business at this niche?
5:20 You had mentioned that you once considered reducing your prices, but when you were looking for areas to cut, you weren’t willing to make those sacrifices to the quality of your products. Tell us a bit more about that.
6:00 You were the first person I saw in this industry who showed full transparency regarding the working conditions of your factory in India. Can you comment on why you decided to be so transparent about this, and why you decided against manufacturing your corsets in England?
8:00 When I first stumbled upon your site, I thought that you mainly catered to the burlesque and pin-up communities. Do you think this is true? Who is your main client base?
Thanks to Katie for sitting down with me for this interview! Click here to see What Katie Did’s website.
Some may remember back in early 2013, I launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for Sidney Eileen to be properly diagnosed and treated for a 6-year-long anaplasma phagocytophilum infection (what we originally thought was Lyme disease) which left Sidney disabled, unable to walk long distances, unable to continue her artwork due to weakness and tremors in her hands, and suffering from seizures due to inflammation of the brain.
2 years later, in August of 2015, I finally had the opportunity to meet Sidney for the first time and we caught up on how she’s feeling after the treatment and the daily realities of chronic illness – we also talked about her contribution to the corset making community and her hopes for the future.
1:05 How are you feeling now that you’ve completed the antibiotic treatment for your anaplasma infection?
1:40 Are your symptoms expected to completely disappear, or are you looking at some permanent damage from your chronic infection?
2:15 How did you become interested in making corsets in the first place?
4:10 What is the value in being self-taught and having a community of other corsetieres to share different techniques with?
5:10 What about corset making do you specifically enjoy?
5:55 What is your favorite step of the corset making process?
6:10 What is your least favorite step about corset making?
7:30 What drew you towards teaching art and corset making, as opposed to only making corsets or taking commissions?
9:15 What are your future aspirations, now that you have a fresh start?
11:15 For other people who are just getting started with making corsets (or any other type of art), what words of encouragement would you offer to them?
You can find Sidney Eileen’s artwork and free corset tutorials on her website, sidneyeileen.com
In July of 2015, following my adventures in Texas, I had the opportunity to travel to California and sit down with Puimond of Puimond Progressive Corset Design! I had been following Puimond’s work for many years (especially after learning that he’s originally from Canada too) and collected several corsets made by him, including the pearl PVC overbust, Wicked plunge overbust, and a custom longline corset (my smallest corset!). It was so exciting to meet him and get to know more about the man behind the label.
Skip ahead in the video to hear his answers to the following questions:
0:30 How did you get started making corsets?
0:55 What was your very first corset like?
1:40 What is your favorite project?
2:05 How many corsets do you think you’ve made in total in the past 18 years?
2:25 How do you think the corset industry has evolved in the past 18 years?
2:55 What is your favorite part of the construction process?
3:10 What is your least favorite step of the construction process?
3:30 Who would you like to work with, or what is your dream project?
4:35 What is your favorite reaction or a client to your corset?
5:10 What are some of your dreams and aspirations for your business?
5:35 What do you do when you’re not making corsets?
See what Puimond has in stock in his Etsy shop, or visit his main website here.
Following my trip to Thailand in 2015 to design the hourglass silhouette corsets with Timeless Trends, I spent three weeks in Texas. One of those weeks was in Austin, creating some informational videos for Timeless Trends, and the other two weeks were spent in Dallas where I stayed with Amber of Lovely Rats Corsetry. Together we compared corset styles, patterns and construction techniques, we made a corset together using a custom pattern from the late Christine Wickham of Ariadne’s Thread, and she introduced me to Steven Universe (a show that changed my life).
In this interview, you’ll find Amber’s answers to the following. Feel free to skip ahead in the video to hear the answers that interest you most!
0:30 How did you first become interested in making corsets?
0:50 What was your first corset like and how far have you come since then?
1:15 How did you come up with the name Lovely Rats, and how does this relate to corsetry?
1:50 What has your favorite project been so far?
2:10 Who would you like to dress in the future, or what would you consider a dream project?
2:25 Tell us more about your personal aesthetic and how you’ve branded yourself.
3:01 What other brands or designers do you look up to?
3:35 What is your favorite step in the corset construction process?
4:15 What is your least favorite part about making corsets?
4:30 What are your dreams and aspirations for Lovely Rats?
4:55 What do you do when you’re not making corsets?
5:25 If you weren’t making corsets, what do you think you’d be doing?
5:45 If you had any advice for people who follow you or want to make a corset, what kind of encouragement would you give them?
Last year I received several questions from viewers wondering if it’s safe to wear a corset if one has an ileostomy. Having no personal experience, I asked around. One helpful follower then introduced me to Kitty’s blog, and to my surprise I also found that there were a few different corsetieres who specialize in making corsets for ileostomates.
I love Kitty’s candor, and found it fascinating that she is not only able to wear corsets with her ostomy, but also that her corset is used for stabilizing her hepaptosis (floating liver) and scoliosis. Her posts on corsetry can be found here and here. I asked if she would be willing to share a bit more of her personal experience on my blog, and she graciously agreed.
(Please note that this is in context of an ileostomy only, and may not work the exact same way for other types of stomas. If you have a stoma and would like to wear a corset, please speak with your doctor!)
When did you take an interest in corsets? Was it merely aesthetic, or was there something else to it as well?
Kitty: I first became interested in corsets as a young girl. They resembled my TLSO backbrace I wore for ten years to stop my spine from curving any more with scoliosis, except they were beautiful–a celebration of the female shape instead of the hard plastic ugly shape I had been fitted for at the Children’s Hospital.
Are your doctors okay with you wearing a corset? Did any of them have objections due to negative myths?
Kitty: One of the doctors I had in British Columbia actually signed papers saying I needed a corset for my back, but stupid me, I never got around to fighting that out with the insurance company.
You had experience with back bracing when you were younger – many of my viewers/ readers have scoliosis, and some have said that they worry that wearing a corset might trigger unpleasant memories of being braced. In your experience, how does a corset differ from the back brace (comfort-wise, aesthetically or otherwise)?
Kitty: Ah, silly me, I already answered about the back-brace. It was a very unpleasant time being braced and physically and emotionally bullied by both teachers and my peers, but it really has no bearing on me now. I have gotten the perspective of years behind me, and to take that thick plastic foot-ball players’ uniform compared to my delicate corset–well, there really is no comparison.
How did you go about finding a corsetiere who was comfortable making the proper accommodations for your medical needs (e.g. asymmetric construction for scoliosis, access to your ileostomy, ensuring that your organs were properly positioned with the right silhouette and reduction)?
Kitty: I was fortunate enough to live near the same corsetiere as Dita Von Teese goes to–it is called Lace Embrace in Vancouver, British Columbia, and I found it quite by accident while searching for such on the internet.
How is your corset made differently to standard corsets? Are you able to access and change your ostomy bag easily? Does the corset prevent your bag from filling properly and create discomfort or bloating?
Kitty: My corset has a side panel that flows smoothly over my ileostomy bag, that I can simply unhook whenever I need to dump my bag. The bones were also removed from that section, though you couldn’t tell if you looked at it, which was the point.
I have suffered no ill-effects of my corset, I have even slept in my corset. I just have my normal bag on, and fit the corset over it easily, tie it up, and I am ready to go.
You mentioned in your blog that you have issues with your ligaments, and the corset helps keep your liver from dropping. How does that condition affect your daily quality of life (is it painful or nauseating), and how does the corset help?
Kitty: With the corset, it lifts up both my stomach and liver which otherwise float a bit inside of my abdominal cavity.
One of the concerns I’ve heard regarding stomas is the risk of hernias. Was the extra pressure from a corset a concern for you in this situation – or do you think that the specific application of pressure on your abdomen by the corset would help to prevent such a hernia from occurring?
Kitty: Because I tie it correctly, my organs are not being pushed down to the bottom of the corset, but lifted, and I have never felt like my stomach was bulging or that I might be getting a hernia. The corset lifts pressure from that area and transfers it up to my rib-cage.
Were there any drawbacks you found to wearing a corset?
Kitty: The only drawback is you will need someone to help you tie it up until you get a hang of it yourself! I still have yet to do it alone!
Were there any other unexpected benefits that you discovered from wearing the corset – either physically or emotionally?
Kitty: Of course the benefit is a sexy silhouette, you always have grand posture, and you feel pretty darn good doing so :)
What advice can you give to others who have an ostomy and are looking into corsets (either for fashion or for therapeutic purposes)?
Kitty: For ileostomates: dont be afraid to try on or wear corsets. if you buy one already made, have the seller make a snap-panel over your bag area so you can let that bugger breathe and do what it does best. Eat as you normally would, but more grazing during the day and avoiding dumping one big meal all at once into your stomach.
I chose a corset in a pale peach so it would go under all of my clothing, but that is a personal choice–it’s up to you!
In September of 2014, following the Oxford Conference of Corsetry, I travelled to Bath, England with new friends Beata Sievi (Entre-Nous) and Lowana O’Shea (Vanyanis), taking in some of the Roman Baths, museums, and churches.
I also had the pleasure of modeling a piece for Beata, photographed in the 400+ year old library in Oxford.
Beata is a very experienced couture corsetiere from Winterthur, Switzerland. As a psychologist-turned-designer, Beata places much importance on intimacy and relationships, and as such her aesthetic is focused around poetry, romance, and sensuality. Her pieces are entirely one-of-a-kind and she tends to build a rapport with each client to create breathtaking pieces suited precisely to the individual. In the interview below, you will see some cutaways to some of her past works, including a Samurai inspired corset, a corset covered with love letters, etc.
As filming interviews was not permitted on location in Jesus College, this interview was filmed in the gorgeous dining area of our hotel in Bath.
0:35 How were you first introduced to corsetry? How did you come to love corsets?
3:35 How did your relationship with a corset enthusiast at the start of your business come to influence your artistry and romantic corset designs?
7:20 Why did you choose the name Entre Nous for your business, what is its meaning and significance?
8:40 If you could choose a favorite corset you’ve made for a client in the past, which would you choose?
11:55 What is your favorite part of the creative process?
12:20 Since you don’t get the opportunity to create as much corset art as you like (where you are given full creative liberty by a client), what part of your business is the most enjoyable to you? Designing, teaching, etc?
14:20 What is your least favorite part of corset making/ the creative process?
17:50 How long have you been in the corset business?
18:05 With so much experience behind you, is there anything you’re looking forward do in the future? What are your goals and aspirations for Entre Nous?
In September of 2014 I had the pleasure of interviewing the ever-beautiful and talented corsetiere behind Vanyanis: Lowana O’Shea. I have a lot to thank Lowana for: she and the late Christine Wickham had personally launched a fundraiser to allow me to attend the Oxford Conference of Corsetry that year, and Lowana let me tag along during much of our adventures in England!
As filming interviews was not permitted on location in Jesus College, this interview was filmed in our hotel in London about a week after the Conference:
0:28 You’re looking very glamorous today, what exciting things did you get up to today before this interview?
1:05 How did you come up with the name Vanyanis?
1:35 How long have you been in business, and how did you come to love corsetry?
2:27 What is your favorite part of the creative process?
3:10 (Showcase of one of Lowana’s couture overbust corsets with over 3000 Swarovski crystals!)
4:38 What is your least favorite part of corset making?
5:20 What do you see in the future of your business? What are your aspirations for Vanyanis?
You can find more of Lowana’s work on her website, Vanyanis.
Back in March 2014 while visiting Orchard Corset headquarters in Wenatchee, Washington, USA, I had the immense honour of sitting down with Cora Harrington, founder of The Lingerie Addict. In this interview, you will learn:
How many years Cora has been blogging and how she got her start
From where or from whom Cora drew inspiration when she was just starting out with her first blog
At what point Cora felt that she was ready to move from the role of a hobbyist blogger to a full-time writer
The work that Cora is proudest of to date
What Cora does when she’s not being a Lingerie Addict
What to expect from The Lingerie Addict in the near future
If you’d like to learn the answers to these questions and more, see the video below!
Once again, huge thanks to Cora for taking the time to answer my questions and let me pick her brain – it has been a dream come true. :) You can learn more about Cora and read her blog here at The Lingerie Addict.
Last week, I travelled to Toronto to visit with Mina LaFleur, Canada’s Burlesque sweetheart/ pin-up model, and corsetiere of L’Atelier de LaFleur! She kindly agreed to an interview for my channel, and I asked her a bit about her past notable work (including her experience as a costume maker for Cirque du Soleil!) and she also shares some tips and advice for budding corsetieres.
Use the following time frame to jump to your question of interest:
0:30 What came first, the Burlesque career or the sewing career?
1:30 Mina’s experience making costumes for Cirque du Soleil and Thierry Mugler
5:45 Mina’s reflections as a former judge on reality TV show “ReVamped”
7:50 How Mina’s work stands out as a corsetiere
10:25 What equipment and tools Mina uses in her work
12:05 Mina’s advice for budding corset makers
Huge thanks to Mina for allowing me to come to her studio, try on her corsets, and agreeing to the interview!
Some of you may have already known that back in early June 2013, I and several other corset vloggers (including Phoenix [mmsnafaioopoofeeker], Byrdi [silentsongbyrd], Meghann [LadyTigerLily] and Andrea [RandomCorset]) travelled from across the continent to meet up at Orchard Corset headquarters to have a group interview, participate in a photoshoot, and have the opportunity to form friendships and make history.
Below you’ll find the interview, organized in a playlist of 7 parts for your convenience. If you would like to see the interview in one 40-minute long video, click here to go to Orchard Corset’s upload!
In late February I visited Orchard Corset headquarters in Wenatchee, Washington, USA. Jeff (the Owner) and Cheri (the Marketing Director) were able to sit down with me and answer a few questions I had about their business and where they see themselves in the corset industry.
We discussed several matters within the corset community, such as the definition of “corset” being probably a little too loose, how Orchard sets itself apart from other OTR companies by their customer service, blog and website, their careful process in choosing both models and corsets to reflect what their clientele want, and their goals for the future.
Thanks very much to Jeff, Leanna, Cheri and all those at Orchard Corset for making this trip happen, and for shining a little light on how an OTR company works from their perspective.
Watch the interview below!
Questions and timeline: 0:40 How many years has Orchard Corset/ Crepe Suzette been in business? 0:50 In the years you’ve been in business, how has the popularity of corsets changed (if any)? 1:45 How do you see the corset industry, and where do you place yourself within that industry? 4:20 We understand that Orchard Corset is known for its excellent customer service – in what other ways do you serve your clientele? 7:25 What are your goals for the business in the next couple years?
2012 has been an exciting year for me (so far!), having accomplished so much toward building my site, my Youtube channel, and my corset collection.
As most of you know, I tend to shy away from interviews (especially on national television) as it’s difficult to know if my words might be twisted around or if my passion may be made to look like something from a side show.
But the moment I spoke with Celina Wilde (owner of Radical Redefinition of Having It All), I knew that she would do neither. Her own site revolves around what success and contentment really means to each individual working woman, as opposed to what definition of success has been fed to us.
It was such a pleasure and an honour to speak with Celina, and I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. For anyone curious about following your own passions and dreams, do check out Celina’s site here.
Usually I eschew public interviews because of the way the corset world can be misinterpreted, twisted and made to look “scary” or “icky” by mainstream media. However when Kitty first approached me about doing an interview, we hit it off right away! Kitty is so much cooler than mainstream and she made the process hilarious and painless. I am excited and pleased to show you my first interview. Click anywhere below to go to the interview:
Thanks so much to Kitty for making this happen! While you are there, do check out the rest of Kitty’s site, Bloggery of a Gothcat as she is a fellow corset enthusiast (and also regularly posts adorable cat .gifs which never hurt).