So, I left off my report on pre-conference Friday by saying how lovely the other conferenceers (I like it, makes us sound like we should have cool chapeaus and big boots) were ...
It was with these delightful ladies I spent Saturday learning about draping corsets on a form (much less scary than I was expecting, thanks to Gerry Quinton, mastermind behind Morua Designs) and the fine art of fitting (with particular emphasis on that trickiest of spots - the bust, led by an expert in that region (!), Alison Campbell, creator of Crikey Aphrodite's yumminess).
There were goody bags with pressies from Janome and pretty corset postcards (yay!), as well as a huge fabric and embellishment swap. Seriously. I don't think all that stuff even left the building. It might even have formed its own gravitational pull at one point:
We even had media coverage on the BBC News website 'in pictures', a local newspaper and BBC local radio (Julia speaks about the conference at 2:25:20)
There was stitching, coffee and chatter (the three staples of any corsetier, methinks) between classes in our hub, with much setting of eyelets and other fun.
I hate setting eyelets. It's the most stressful part of corsetry, I think! So there I was setting eyelets on Saturday afternoon, getting more and more stressed. You see, one of the (many) awesome parts of the conference was the opportunity to sign up for a short photo shoot with a professional model and photographer and as my City & Guilds deadline finished just before it was announced that one of those models would be the multi-talented and utterly gorgeous Morgana (AKA Threnody in Velvet, a make-up artist and photographer herself), I thought this would be a good idea ... Hence the deadline that's kept me off-blog for a few weeks. It was a bit of a scary experience, drafting the corset purely from someone's measurements without any fittings, but this was too good an opportunity to miss. Here's a little sneak peek:
The photo shoots were Sunday. I hadn't finished the eyelets or embellishment and it was Saturday. Now you see my stress? Also, I loved the look of the loomstate satin I used (from Sew Curvy earlier in the year), but it frayed like a complete bastard. Seriously - I think it gave me splinters. So, more stress.
But it's OK, I soon had a distraction in the shape of Saturday night ...
Saturday night was a real treat - Pimms O'clock (that's the official name, right?) followed by a formal dinner in the Hall. Oh yes, didn't I tell you? We ate all our meals beneath the watchful gaze of Queenie (founder of the college):
And Charles I and Lawrence of Arabia (bottom left):
That's just a taste of our imposing and impressive surroundings - it really made the weekend even more dream-like and fabulous, and the staff at Jesus were so friendly and helpful. I couldn't ask for more!
Due to rain, the Pimms drinks reception was held in a rather fancy room whose name escapes me, but which contained yet more Queenie:
And what's more, she had a cherry earring!
A CHERRY EARRING!
Yep, so she kept watchful gaze over our drinking (for some people the first time they'd tried Pimms) and admiration of everyone's gladrags, then it was off to dinner and another highlight ...
Our after dinner speaker was Ian Frazer Wallace, someone I admit I hadn't heard of ... and I wasn't the only one - many of us went a-Googling and found precious little about this mysterious corseteer. Then Julia posted this video of his work on famed burlesque dancer, Immodesty Blaise (mild bottom nudity towards end of video):
Ian made the green and white corsets in collaboration with designer Ziad Ghanem. Wow, eh? That soon cleared things up, so when the conference finally came around, we were all excited to hear Ian's talk and he did not disappoint. An interesting fellow and an enlightening speech, giving us a glimpse into the fashion world's take on corsetry, with interjections from his muse, Polly Fey (also glimpsed in the video - second model to walk out on the finale, corsetted, shaved head, many tattoos, looks awesome). It was something of a double act!
Could things get any better? Turns out they could - these two weren't a pair of snooty fashionistas, here for their talk, then off to something more important, despite what Hollywood films might lead us to expect. No, they stayed all night, hit the bar with us, chatted, drank, giggled, entertained, hugged and were just generally delightful company, fun people and genuinely, well, nice. They spoke to everyone, sharing advice, showing interest and giving encouragement. (Ian wished me luck with my photo shoot when I said good night and teased me for sewing in the bar at midnight, since I still hadn't finished my corset for the shoot and it turned out mine was in the morning!)
So it was that I ended up tottering to my room at 2am, tired, but inspired.
Thus endeth Saturday at the conference - just one day left!