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8 May 2006 ~

I saw Confetti tonight & I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It's been done in the same mockumentary style as Drop Dead Gorgeous & Best in Show. I probably enjoyed it more because it was also a snap shot of the industry I work in - one day I'll look at those scenes shot at the National Wedding Show & Caralyn Franklin doing yet another makeover with a real sense of nostalgia. Come to think of it, I was looking at those scenes with nostalgia - the show isn't what it once was & I'm not sure they'll be around in years to come (I certainly haven't felt the urge to do one in a while).

There was a time when the National Wedding Show had all the top designers in the country & loads of press attention - I had images of my stand go out on local & national news channels, a mention in the Independent & had some footage for a television program shot on my stand at the two earlier shows I did but the last time I did it I didn't see one member of the press at the show & alot of my industry , like me, have given up on them. Now if I do go for a look see, there's hardly anyone there who's name I recognise & far too many big high street names. The only thing that does stay the same is the bank of ladies, blusher brushes in hand, ready to pounce on innocent members of the public & attack them with the all in one bronzing make up stuff (don't know exactly what's in that compact, I'm always too busy running away from the brush to catch the sales pitch).


Anyway, back to Confetti - definitely worth seeing, the gay wedding organisers were brillient, although I wouldn't say it was truly representative of the wedding industry today. As a designer of all maner of coloured wedding gowns I'd like to ask, where were the anything other than white dresses? Apart from a coloured bodice gracing the NW catwalk, it was one white dress after another. They set it around the idea of promoting really different weddings & then managed to pick themes that all entailed having white wedding dresses:

Tennis - white.   Black & white musicals - white again.   Nudists - white robes.  

Did the producers think people wouldn't think it was a wedding movie if the Bride's weren't in white? Or was it because Americans expect white dresses? Change is certainly slow.


10 May 2006 ~

Dita Von Teese's book arrived today from Amazon (Burlesque & the Art of the Teese ) - I love beautiful, old fashioned, glamorous photos like those of Avedon's & there are some gorgeous, dramatic photos in this book & fabulous costumes. Plus & the write ups didn't really cover this, it's sooo written for girls! Dita's writing style is a bit like mine & she has all these lists written out like menu's & dropped in on various pages, between her photographs & her stories, with titles like:

First Class Face: How to get the look of the 20's vamp,

Dita's Vintage Manicure Tip,

Dita's Beauty Tips,

there's even a page on the anatomy of the seamed stocking. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect but I am pleased to report it's a good book & from the little bits I've read, fun to read too.



11 May 2006 ~

Subject: Emails.

Had possibly my best ever 'student wanting something' email today!

When did it become all right to write to strangers, via email using text speak? And I'm talking college student here:

    i am designing a corset at college and am basin my artist on u would u be able to send me some information on ur corsets and how u became a designer and stuff like that

              thank you
p.s can u plz get back to me a.s.a.p."

I'm going to sound really old now but when I was a student you found out who you needed to write to & composed a proper, respectful letter & (& this is before websites) you wouldn't ask for information you could get yourself. I'm getting more emails than ever from students & their getting so lazy & so cheeky! Also & I don't think I'm being funny here, is any business person going to be impressed with that approach? The girl couldn't even be bothered to put the 'H' on hello & don't even get me started on 'basin'! 

I'm also regularly being emailed lists of questions & being asked to spend time composing a reply with all the answers, when the answers to everything I've been asked can be found on my site.

This week I had just such a set of questions from a girl that had farmed my email address off an American corset site (I know this because it's not an email address that's published anywhere else on the internet & not the one I use for my sites) - she said:

“I was wondering is you could help with a few questions I have to ask as I have looked on your website and there is nothing that can help me”.

First question:

"1. Do you put corset designs into mass / batch productions or are they all one offs?".

Excuse me? Maybe the problem was that she 'looked' at the site & didn't actually, you know, read anything. Call me crazy but insulting my intelligence does not inspire me to spend the next hour cutting & pasting bits from my website into an email reply so the author doesn't have to do any research for themselves! Oh & yes, when I emailed an 'appropriate' reply, she got lippy.

I also played nice, accomodating designer this week & emailed an image of one of my designs to a student, as requested, for her final project & no sooner had it been sent than I had a reply back asking for 6 more! Granted it was polite but come on?

So today's diary turned out to be about student's emails & my advice to students reading this is....... remember folks, not everyone has a room full of people to deal with the email requests & alot of people are just like me, editing the website, making the gowns & accessories, replying to emails. So before taking the short cut & just firing questions at us, get as many answers to your questions from our websites first. I, unless you catch me on a good day, generally won't answer student's emails - simply there isn't two of me -  I work on my own & have neither the time or resources to accommodate student research via questions, questionnaires or requests for information, brochures & samples. But if you do email businesses remember they are professional people & you will need to be professional in your approach - an email like the one above will induce a response but laughing probably won't be the one you wanted ;)


13 May 2006 ~

Subject: Victorian Corsets & tightlacing.



I was talking to a bridal designer friend of mine on the phone today & we got on to the subject of Dita Von Teese’s book & then corsets & tightlacing.


I was telling her that recently I’d read Dita’s comments in her book on her tightlacing & a piece about the ‘waist’ in this months Vogue that used Dita as it’s source.


Of tightlacing, Dita says in her book:


“I love the challenge of tightlacing. I love the extreme feminine curves that result, the sense of discipline I have in wearing it. Best of all I like taking it off. Sometimes I’ll get bruising from my corsets – I even have little tiny scars on my back from the laces – but it’s worth it. Like any good bondage, a tightlaced corset is not comfortable in the average person’s sense of the word, but it is exhilarating.”


Having seen how tiny in comparison to her hips, Dita’s waist can look bruising & scarring are hardly surprising but what was really shocking to me was that Dita only laces her waist in by 4” for stage shows. She will lace her waist in by 6” for photo shoots but I imagine a waist of 16” must be too restrictive to perform in. Dita is also quoted in Vogue as saying “corset experts say my waist is very pliable”.


In the 21st century I believe it’s only the serious tightlacers that are disiplined enough to train their waists & can expect to achieve dramatic waist reductions.


My friend (who is far more clued up about history than myself) added that Victorians used to start training their waists from when girls were just two.


When it comes to a Bride’s expectations of these types of corsets, I have always disapproved of the Victorian shape corsets being sold to brides promising miracle waist reductions of 8” or more. Having discovered that Dita only normally laces her waist down by 4 inches it only confirms my thoughts that for ordinary women to try & reduce their waists by more than a few inches with the aim of wearing them throughout their wedding day is unrealistic & unhealthy. One could compare it with running a marathon with no preparation. For the less firm, I can believe if a person has more fat, you can lace a little tighter but the trouble with over lacing fat is it tends to get bunched up somewhere else or spills out from the edge of the corset somewhere.


See this article from the New York Medical Journal 1887:

The multiple illustrations of the re-shaping of the body & displacement of organs are quite disturbing:
































This image does also explain why when I see images of women wearing tight victorian shape corsets in photographs with straight skirts, their bellies & hip area sometimes look drum like.



My advice to Brides:


Brides who will be in a corset all day (as apposed to wearing it for a hour’s photo shoot), should choose your corset according to the shape you like & have it fitted or laced so it is tight against your body & you feel held but it does not feel over tight. It is my advice that brides should not be tempted to tightlace if they are not used to it (unless you are very serious & can invest the hours of training nesersary.


I personally am uncomfortable with this level of body modification - to me tightlacing can create a very attractive silhouette to a point but lace the corset in too much at the waist & I think the result in some women is that the trade off for a slimmer waist is that the rest of their bodies can look bulky & buxom. When the waists have been pulled in so tight that the waist is pulled right in underneath the rib cage, that's when I consider that tightlacing has crossed the 'attractive' line & it just gives me the wiggins. Almost worse still (where giving me the wiggins is concerned, though it is athletically more attractive) is when you don't see the corsets curving in underneath the rib cage & that the ribcage is angled right in - this is because the bottom of the rib cage is free floating & training a waist can physically move the ribs closer together (I have even read that ribs can even be pulled in so far that they cross over).


A good corset will create the illusion of a greater waist reduction & a Victorian one with promote the hour glass shape whilst an 18th century corset is more about the heaving bosom. I should also point  out (with reference to Dita's comments on tightlacing) that my laces don't pass through eyelets & run next to the skin so they can't draw blood & I won’t cut corsets so tight they’ll bruise the wearer. Tightlacing is a form of fetish & if a bride truly wants to physically loose 8” off her waist she will either have to start training her waist over a long enough period to achieve her goal or as close to her goal as her body will allow or take the healthy diet, exercise & toning option. As Dita says in Vogue “a corset is nice for making an instant hourglass figure, but is no substitute for exercise & eating well”. Vogue says that Dita also swims for an hour a day, 5 days a week & does Pilates.


I quote from the very informative website: (content by Theresa Overon who is definitely more of an expert on these styles than myself):

"Training into a corset for a special event, such as a wedding, should start several months before the event, so that when the dress is made, the proper size is available. Otherwise stay with a 2" reduction. With planning on the other hand, a 4" reduction is a reasonable goal and even further reduction can be achieved, provided sufficient time is allowed for." & "Over the past two years I have maintained an ongoing email exchange with a number of brides-to-be. Most of them achieved very comfortable 4" reductions and some achieved more, with only 3 months of training. Most successful were those that kept the corset on for more than twelve hours per day ."


How I see the role of corsets in my bridal / eveningwear designs:


I specialise in corsets & of course recognise what an incredible addition they make to an outfit but it’s as much about the perfect cut & fit & a design that takes into account a client's complete body shape as it is body modification (I am not an advocate of extreme body modification).


Done well the cut should bring out the best of every part of you, hide or seek to control the worst & work in combination to create one complete head to toe illusion of a more beautiful you. As crazy as it sounds this is achievable, where as unless we are the Dita Von Teeses of this world the 8” + waist reduction is probably not & is definitely not worth the pain.


My corsets create a waist but are far more focused on the bust (which can be manipulated without training regimes & without inflicting pain or discomfort). When I have laced a bride into one of my corsets the waistband of the skirt (which was a comfortable fit when fastened) will have about 2" of slack at centre back by time the corset is laced - this is a comfortable fit for clients especially as there is sitting to consider because a) most of us don't enjoy the punishment of high heels for any length of time b) you may be called upon to sit or worse kneel in church / during the ceremony & c) you will want to sit down & eat your celebration meal.



May 15th 2006 ~

I saw a couple of fabulous Wedding Cakes in Cosmo Bride today, they're quite modern, stacked shapes but the colours & decoration were delightful.


I'm a sucker for pinks & greens, so absolutly loved these & don't you just love the name: The Utterly Sexy Cafe, the designer is Andrea Baird. Well worth a look.



May 24th 2006 ~

Subject - Invites (sort of).


I was bought the most gorgeous ink pen the other week (lime green snake skin effect with an Audrey Hepburn motif clip (ala Holly Golightly) from a designer called Jordi Labanda. Lime green is one of my favourite colours & I wondered whether one can get green ink for fountain pens rather than the supplied & oh so boring, blue.


Can you! (One quick Google search later):  I bought Herbin Olive Green & Diamine Claret.

This site has over 150 different colour inks- pots & cartridges & is definitely the place to go for couples doing their own invites. I bought the most gorgeous olive green for my pen & for the pink version (I just knew they must have done that pen in dark pink as well, which they had & which I promtly bought online), I  have bought gorgeous dark pink ink.


The Writting Desk also has alot of pens but for my fabulous Holly Golightly pen (only pink & stone), take a look at this site: or on my email page:




Subject - What's been going on this month.


I am very busy at the moment, I have just finished a commission for a lovely couple (one of a growing number of couples where the groom accompanies his fiancé & stays for all the fittings except possibly pick up) & they & the dress flew off to Italy this morning, fingers crossed for lovely weather in Italy this Saturday.


Apart from the addition of the Biography & Diary pages in May, I also dropped on some more Real Brides - Gemma & Rachel, a church wedding in December in Wales & an outdoor ceremony in a Redwood forest in New Zealand in January, one a straight forward replica of Elizabeth in gold & the other inspired by Elizabeth with a feathered fishtail in ivory, both brides totally chose the right dresses for them, looked stunning & I think they make great additions to my body of work.





2006: Entires for MAY  .  JUNE  .  JULY  .  AUGUST  .  SEPTEMBER   .  OCTOBER   .   NOVEMBER   .  DECEMBER