MEET THE CORSETIERES – Katrina Mior of Totally Waisted!
It is with great pleasure that I share with you one of my first ‘Meet The Corsetieres’ interviews, with the corsetiere from whom I had the pleasure of purchasing a custom made black taffeta underbust for my first birthday corset.
Name: Katrina Mior
Corset Brand: Totally Waisted! by Katrina Mior
Role: CEO, Designer, Manufacturer
How and when did you become interested in corsets?
I began working for an independent designer in Toronto when I was 19. It opened my eyes to the world of corsetry and alternative fashion, and I gravitated towards corsetry because it seemed like the perfect blend of math, art, and illusion. Plus I’ve always been kind of athletic and boyish in shape, and it seemed like a reasonable way to look curvy. Haha.
What made you think of creating / designing corsets?
I always liked a challenge. I honestly didn’t over think the process. Like with most of
my career choices (I am a professional circus artist for my “day job”),
it was an organic process that began with “this would be fun to try!”
and eventually became an obsession that took over my life! My business
grew slowly because while I am a risk taker in many areas of my life, in
business, I prefer to grow sustainably. I only moved into a professional
studio two years ago because it began to make sense and the cost/benefit
analysis made sense. Rather than take out a business loan, or quit my
day job (which I adore), I let my business grow as it will, thankfully,
I’ve had some amazing and supportive clients over the years to help me
grow. I feel like it’s been a communal growth process.
How long have you been making / designing corsets?
Over a decade.
Any photos / info from previous Orchard Conference of Corsetry?
I have yet to attend the Oxford Conference of Corsetry, but I sent out a piece this year to be put on display.
Where do you get your inspiration from for corsets?
Because I work primarily as a creative in all aspects of my working life, I always try to seek out all kinds of art to consume: I studied animation in school, so I still tend to watch a lot of experimental animation or shorts because they are the perfect medium to explore complex ideas simply. Mood and moment is something I play with a lot in my theatre shows and I try to incorporate the stillness of mood into my corsetry work as well. I also read a lot (I’m a huge fan of Russian literature), and take in a lot of live theatre (especially circus, I love watching my colleagues work). I also listen to music voraciously, I always have my iTunes on in the studio. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Joy Division. When I was focusing on making more romantic reproductions, I listened to a lot of Chopin.
What was your first memory of corsets?
Having one custom made for me and being a part of the design process.
What was your first experience wearing a corset?
My first corset was made for me by Nocturnalia in Toronto. It was wonderfully comfortable and really cool: black tafffeta, simple underbust. Instead of a busk, it featured silver clasps and it was the epitome of the goth wardrobe staple. I wore it to death!
What was your first/favourite corset like?
The first corset I ever made was a beast of thing: two layers of duck canvas, internally boned and made with alternating panels of black velvet and deep purple satin. It had a very ambitious reduction and was surprisingly well made for my first sewing attempt ever. Hahah. The first antique I acquired was from a longstanding client, Tina Imel. It was a black twill maternity corset and I studied it obsessively. That piece pretty much informed my construction techniques dramatically: to appreciate, at the time, there were no commercial patterns when I started out. There were no online tutorials, no classes in corsetry, I was left alone in the dark to figure out how to construct one on my own. Having an antique to reference changed everything for me. My current favourite..well, that’s tricky! I’m loving the new tulip underbust and longline garter shapes that I’ve created, and I get a lot of mileage out of my crocodile waspie. It’s the perfect piece to jazz up a seemingly plain wardrobe (I generally wear training tights and long drapey tops), paired with some kick-ass boots and you’ve got a sophisticated look!
How are your corset tastes different now to what they were then?
My tastes are just starting to change in my work… my personal aesthetic
has definitely gone from romantic goth to more of a post-punk biker chic
and that is only starting to bleed over into my work now. At the time, I
was one of the first corsetieres to incorporate antique trims into my
work, it made sense to my design aesthetic back then… now, I’m
definitely going through a major shift, thinking more about the entire
outfit and how I’d wear the pieces than just show pieces. Last year when
I was doing a tradeshow, I realized after looking at my booth (and
subsequently, looking at myself in the context of my booth) that I’ve
changed a LOT personally from the stuff I used to do.. and I want that
to reflect in my work. I feel like I’ve been on autopilot over the last
few years and I want to change that. Plus, I’m kind of getting sick of
seeing everyone doing the same stuff with the lace appliques that I was
doing like, 10 years ago. It’s boring. I want to see new and innovative
stuff! I’m loving working with sheer netting now, with harder lines and
bolder shapes. So, we’ll see what happens. I think this will be a big
year for change for me!
Do you still wear corsets?
How often do you wear corsets if so?
When I am performing, I pretty much wear them every day, on tour for 6 months out of the year. When I’m not performing, I’m either jetting to or from the gym in my sweats (as I have to stay fit for work), or at my studio so daily wear can be difficult with my current lifestyle. When I go out, I always wear either a waspie or an underbust at the very least, and I always wear an overbust for fancier cocktails or events.
Are there any issues you face when wearing corsets?
Not that I can think of… I can do handstands in my corsets. The only thing I’ve noticed is that since I’ve gotten built, my shoulders are a lot bigger, so I feel a bit insecure with how they look in the context of such a feminine garment, but, I work with it. That’s where accessorizing comes in!
Do you have any tips for putting on your corset?
What kind/shape/era of corsets do you prefer?
I’ve always had a preference for late Victorian shaping. I’m not a fan of this new trend
for cupped ribs that seems to be very pervasive these days. I like a
gradual taper to hourglass. I’m old school, I guess.
Do you have any other preferences in your corsets?
My mantra is light and strong (kind of like in circus). I abhor underbusks, or heavy boning because I believe the cut is everything, and I like flexibility. A corset should never be too rigid that you can’t perform daily tasks in one. After all, 100 years ago, women did everything from housework to horseback riding in a corset.
What 3 tips would you give to corset newbies?
Take it slow; listen to your body, and always defer to your corsetiere. I always tell first time buyers that waist training is akin to dancing en pointe: it requires patience, practise, technique and dedication to do it safely. And even still, some bodies can’t be pushed as far as others can. Listen to your body first and foremost. And remember, if your corsetiere tells you something isn’t safe, listen to them.
Do you have any favourite fellow corsetieres?
Gerry from Morua Corsetry & Couture has been one of my besties since our industry began its cultural renaissance. We often share information, techniques, goals for
the future and ideas. Her work is top notch and it’s been a pleasure watching her business grow. Lara, from Lara Corsets has been an industry trailblazer and mentor to many. She is kind, warm and so, so knowledgeable. Her collection is incredible. I also want to give a special shout out to Rob Barker of Ikaris Gothic Clothing (now defunct), who gave me the tools to go forth and start making corsets. He has been my biggest supporter when I began, he taught me the fundamentals of pattern drafting and construction, and always championed me, pushing me to produce better and better work. Everything that I am now I owe to him.
Fabulously eccentric TV host, curvaceous model and founder of Hong Kong ’s first luxury corset brand, Pearls & Arsenic. I love sharing my passion for all things elegant and live with my Dearest Beloved and a fluffy Angora rabbit named Lord Pemberly III, who is a ridiculous snob. Find me on IG @RavenTao or FB : Raven Tao
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