An image of the college

Last weekend, I went to the Oxford Conference of Corsetry (OCOC) 2019. This conference, organised by Julia Bremble from Sew Curvy, Alison Campbell from Crikey Aphrodite and Gerry Quinton from MorĂșa, is the only conference in the world that focuses solely on the art and craftsmanship of corsets both modern and antique. You can read more about the conference here:

Oxford is a gorgeous city, and that goes for the college where the conference was held as well. Due to personal circumstances, I was not able to attend all lectures, but I did visit Autumn Adamme (from Dark Garden) her lecture on asymmetry*. Apparently with body asymmetry there is no right or wrong: it all depends on what the customer needs and what looks nice. You can either accomodate the asymmetry or correct it.
* i.e.: scoliosis, a high hip, a portruding rib, one larger breast, etcetera. It can be anything! And most people in fact are not 100% symmetric but usually we don’t notice.

In the afternoon Luca Costigliolo, an experienced designer and costume cutter and one of the lecturers of the School of Historical Dress gave a lecture on stay making and the new technique for drawing their patterns he discovered. This was super interesting, and I got to show him the stays I made from the book Patterns of Fashion 5 using said technique. Keep an eye out for an extra publication from the school of historical dress about this topic!

Table filled with corsets
Corset show-and-tell table

At night it was time for Pims and dinner in the hall. Everyone looked their best and the food was delicious. Most interesting was the talk by Ian Frazer Wallace from the Whitechapel workhouse. He worked with costume designers Sandy Powell (who designed for Cinderella (2015) – a film whose visuals I can’t stop gushing about) and Colleen Atwood to make some very interesting pieces!

Sunday I pulled my Sanakor corset from the show-and-tell corset table in the lounge and put it on a mannequin, and then proceeded to try on some corsets from other makers. This was really cool – and one of them wore the Sanakor corset! I looked smashing on Zoe. I visited her photoshoot with the amazing Fanciforia Foxglove as I had no shoot booked for myself.

Edwardian corset 'sanakor' on a mannequin
My Sanakor corset on an Edwardian-style mannequin.

Near lunchtime Stephanie Selmayr showed a part of her extensive antique corset and stays collection. I was most intrigued by this Edwardian bust enhancer. At the end of the day the women mentioned above came together to talk with us about corsetry and business. While not everyone ageed 100%, the moral of the story was that going in business as a full-time corset maker might not be as fun as you think it is.

Collection of antique corsets and stays
Collection of antique corsets and stays from Stephanie Selmayr

After 17 hours I said goodbye to the many, many new friends I made and I hope to meet them again soon. Maybe not at OCOC, but who knows what the future might bring!

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