Victoria Whiteland - Couture Corset Designer - A Life in Stitches
I design corsets. I find them utterly fascinating garments as they tell such a vivid story about us as women.
The sculptural power of corsetry; the ability to shape our bodies is part of this story.
I believe in using the power of corsetry for positive change: I am inspired by the idea that I am part of life-changing stories; many women say that my corsets have changed their life and their perception of themselves.
I enjoyed a rural childhood and was free to use my time in my own way. Most days I climbed to the bell tower with my books, and indulged my love of literature and art. I took great delight in the imaginary, the fabulous and the factual... I enjoyed my lofty view of the world!
My mother was often in London on business. In our eyes, she would always return looking like a film star! London was the perfect place for her to indulge her love for fashion and favourite designers such as Ossie Clarke. She believed that children’s clothes were rather dull by comparison – once home, she would set about making wonderful and inspired creations, so I enjoyed a rich wardrobe of delights!
My fascination for corsetry came as a surprise – my brother arrived home wearing one. It was rather heavy; a conundrum of engineering and structure; as if Heath Robinson had met with Isambard Kindom Brunel! We watched and waited and eventually the miracle of rescue was complete. We marvelled at the recuperative wonder that my brother would not be crippled by his spine injury.
The corset had triumphed.
I wanted to discover more of what the corset could do.
Among the men in my family there were racing drivers, and the women, ballet dancers. I was not going to fit in easily! Young and full of fun, my parents’ friends from London flowed in and out of our rural retreat. These were the fashionable and the fabulous, filling my days and thoughts with the latest news and ideas, and thoughts for the future. They were musicians, designers, business people, intellectuals, actors and anyone with interesting ideas to share.
My father loved vintage car restoration, and my mother, the renovation of antiques therefore I was no stranger to the beauty and ingenuity of past design.
Corsets from all ages past, are wonderful, innovative and often invaluable, but I don’t believe that we should look to historical garments for anything more than romantic interest; we cannot rely on them for our undergarment needs in today’s world.
Emancipation was in everyone’s thoughts, if not on their lips. The girdles and somewhat staid bras of the 1950-60’s had given way to a more flowing and feminine style. “Burn the Bra” had been the much spoken theme of possible liberation.
This leaves aside important, unspoken issues, such as the way in which our bodies follow the course of gravity when there is no support!
I suppose it was thought that our history had been all for what pleases men.
What I have learnt about corsetry is that it is what pleases women that counts.
Interestingly, we had reached one of those moments in our history when undergarments have become less structured or even abandoned. Not supporting the body can have unpleasant results: it can lead to stress on the body, ageing and sagging. In the later1960's somewhat skimpy 'separates' became the popular form of lingerie and the midriff was not reigned in again - stomachs were free to grow to ever larger proportions.
Time passed, and when I started my own corsetry design company I found that women had begun worrying about the loss of their youthful figure at an earlier age, so many who had burned their bras had suffered deflated hopes as well as bust-lines...
For centuries a woman's concern was getting the right shape under the dress for a gorgeous silhouette. The corsets they wore also corrected posture, giving them elegance. Women had proved that corsetry could be relied on to train their figures into a desirable shape - Were we really going to be better off without this?
If we look good in our underwear, we will look good in anything – whatever we spend.
I used women’s bodies of all shapes to create 52 corsets styles (there are now many more) that re-define the body in different ways - each gives different, but truly comfortable figure shaping results.
I was determined to make corsets that would work in the way that was exactly right for an individual’s proportions and needs for comfort. Women needed a modern solution. My corset designs have to do an important job - it is beauty and body maintenance.
For so long, corsetry had helped us to stay slim; by wearing corsets women ate little & often, exactly what is always advocated by doctors. In this way corsets had helped women maintain youthful figures. Today’s trend of fad dieting badly affects the appearance & elasticity of skin.
Meeting so many women facing these problems, I designed a lightweight, modern corset for daily use and took it to shows in London and Geneva.
The Everyday Corset - an essential aid to body shape maintenance. The corset won an award.
My goal to create a modern corset which will help women everywhere achieve the perfect long-lasting figure had finally been recognised.
What have I learned on the long journey since my brother brought a corset into my life? That form follows function. That the view from history and of our modern bodies have merged, so that there is no separation in my work as I seamlessly combine lightweight forms that offer beauty and comfort with structure, serious and determined, that can address the urgent needs of the body as it adjusts to the rigours of life.
Also to enjoy!
Beauty comes from enjoying our bodies, celebrating our own unique quality.
About Victoria Whiteland:
Victoria is a Couture Designer based in Wales - UK, specialising in Corsetry. She creates unique Corseted Bridal Wear, Ball Gowns, Wedding Trousseaux, Evening Wear, Lingerie, Historical and Theatrical Costumes. Over the last 18 years her Couture Corsetry designs have been seen in some of London's best boutiques, some excellent Welsh boutiques and has been shown several times on Television and in Magazines.
Previous commissions include designs for the Bafta, Brits, Comedy Awards, Sir Hardy Amies Royal Couturiers, Rigby & Peller Royal Couturiers and many exceptional boutiques, including Basia Zarzycka, Coco de Mer, Kathryn Rolfe, Tallulah, Bellisimo, Shop 77, Pink Zebra, Fishnets Couture and Girlie Things.
As a nominated member of Wales Innovators' Network - a supporting organisation for inventors and innovators, Vicoria has had the wonderful opportunity of exhibiting her work at The British Female Inventors and Innovators Show, London, The Salon Des Inventions, Geneva and the British Invention Show, London. Her flair for invention and innovation has been championed by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Nominated for BFIIN Award (British Female Innovator)
Awarded Bronze Medal BIS (British Invention)
Victoria’s new company "INSPIRED BY RUBY" is dedicated to developing lingerie garments that will bring positive change and improve the lives of women everywhere.
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Copyright of Victoria Whiteland.