MEET THE CORSETIERES – Mollie Blue Falkingham of Mollie Blue
Name : Mollie Blue Falkingham
Corset Brand: Mollie Blue
Role: Designer, Pattern Cutter, Fitter, Maker and Tea Brewer (I do everything)
Country where you’re based: UK
How and when did you become interested in corsets?
From childhood I’ve always been interested in fairy tales and history so I grew with an appreciation and fascination for ball gowns and court dress. I decided to become a fashion designer when I was 9 after purchasing my first Vogue and thinking, ‘THIS is it.’ I think my interest grew with that, that knowing about historical fashion and wanting perfection in my designs. I’d say the first time I was fully aware of the corset was when I was 12 and I instantly wanted to know more.
What made you think of creating / designing corsets?
It was born out of the desire to make my own clothes mostly, as I have always loved to create art and beautiful objects. I’ve been sewing from a very young age and I’ve always been hungry to know more about every craft I encounter so a corset was the perfect opportunity to enhance my skills. I didn’t know it at the time of my first corset that it was so frustrating and also wonderfully difficult. That spurred me on to make then next one better and it snowballed!
How long have you been making / designing corsets?
Since I was 13; I started early! I’m very knowledge hungry, I’m like a sponge, so I wanted to get a grip on them whilst I had the funds and support to do it. I want it to be my life’s work after all.
Where do you get your inspiration from for corsets?
I usually start with the muse in my head and she’s usually a goddess of import. I like to detail her likes and her aesthetic, the people she may have influenced through history and the things she inspires in me. I have lots of sketchbooks, filled with historic references, details, trend analysis, tons of paintings, sketches and surface detail samples and I just draw and draw. I’m working on my Contour Fashion degree at DMU so getting inspiration is usually followed after setting myself a brief. Once I have my goddess, my sketchbook filled with beautiful things and my corset goals and targets I begin drafting and toiling. This is when it goes to plan!
Sometimes I drape on the stand, other days I just make a toile from a working pattern and decorate it as and when I please.
What was your first memory of corsets?
I think seeing them in museums throughout my childhood would have to be my first but the ones that stick out are when living goths in Whitby wore their corsets proudly in the early heat of April. That made me realize they could be worn in the 21st century and I was so thrilled! I immediately wanted one.
What was your first experience wearing a corset?
Terrible! The bones kept poking out and the pattern was awful. But my first truly genuine corset felt like a dream come true. It felt like I wasn’t wearing anything at all it was that comfortable.
What was your first/favourite corset like?
The first one was a costume corset I had made for Halloween (shocker) but my absolute favourite corset would have to be the one I made for a Contour friend. The black satin and the smooth wrinkle-free finish made me so happy. She wears it everyday and with 66 bones all the way around, to me it’s perfect.
How are your corset tastes different now to what they were then?
I like a lot more lace appliqué and beading on my corsets, I like them to be heavy and heirloom pieces. I wish more of my clients opted for this but I live in hope! At the moment I get a lot of orders for mesh corsetry and I’m more than happy to furnish them with it because I love using the unusual fabric. At current I’ve designed a new sewing technique for my casings and I’ve developed my own opening zip and busk fastening for my corsets. At the beginning I was terrified that if I didn’t follow the ‘GOLDEN RULES OF CORSETRY’ some corset queen from on high would punish me! I knew in my heart of hearts I hated making historically accurate replicas so I knew I had to experiment. Now I like to use lots of texture and experiment with different fabrics and techniques.
Do you still wear corsets?
Yes I do.
How often do you wear corsets if so?
At the moment I’m making a new one for myself so I’ve unlaced to get used to the new one. That being said when I’m laced I can last ages; only recently I’ve decided to take up proper waist training. Before then it’s for show and for fashion.
Are there any issues you face when wearing corsets?
With my old corset which I made for myself it pinched at the centre back waist so it had to be retired early – I know now it’s because I made the ribcage section too conical so I’ve learnt my lesson there. The only issues I have now is my killer body and its proximity to men. I’m big busted so I look like a burlesque queen constantly. Not that I’m complaining!
Do you have any tips for putting on your corset?
Make sure your laces are perfectly flat, that your lacing gap is at it’s widest and then wrap around the body like a double breasted waistcoat. This lengthens the life of your busk this way and doesn’t bend it either. It also means you can lace down easier instead of just using your last lacing setting which is most likely to be too small. If it’s an overbust I’d definitely ‘scoop and swoop’ into the bust area to get the best silhouette/cleavage.
What kind/shape/era of corsets do you prefer?
I don’t really have any preference for kind but I’m definitely in love with Georgian stays and Edwardian S-bends. I love the ‘sexy flow’ they have; when panels are diagonally shaped around the body from the front hip to the shoulder blades and it always ensures a rounded hip and rib with the pinched in waist I adore. At the moment I love making ‘Historical Hybrids’, corsets which I mix two separate eras into one piece. A recent project in which I did this I made a pair of stays into a 50’s styled suspender corset.
Do you have any other preferences in your corsets?
I prefer my corsets to be fully boned (I’m addicted to parallel stitching) and beautiful inside and out; everything has to be hand finished, right down to the gorgeous black and pink label with my name on it.
What 3 tips would you give to corset newbies?
1. Read everything you can on corsetry and also on the role women played throughout history because ‘Context is Queen’
2. Probably obvious by now but keep a sketchbook and draw everyday if you’re designing or even commissioning corsets. Doodles and mistakes can look awesome retooled as lace appliqué or cut leather work on mesh. Keep your eyes open; I once got inspired for a whole corset collection from just a stiletto on a passing strangers foot.
3. Break out the sewing machine and don’t be afraid to make mistakes and experiment! I’ve made countless toiles because of this and with every one of them I’ve improved in new and various ways.
Do you have any favourite fellow corsetieres?
Oh gosh! Sparklewren and Mr Pearl are my unashamed favourites and I had the most wondrous grace to intern for Sparklewren earlier this year. It was fantastic and the Wren herself is a darling woman. They say never meet your heroes but for me it was spectacular.
Any pets? What’s their silliest quirk if so?
I have a cat called Mouse (yes, he squeaks) and he’s terribly vicious but loyal.
Favourite quotes? Books? Movies?
Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey; the Harry Potter Series; Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Belle, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and The French Line
Other passions or hobbies?
Cooking, drawing merfolk and writing for personal happiness.
Favourite things right now?
Overwire strapless bras (I’m toying with the idea of combining one with stays for a corset design), genderfluid models and new art materials.
OTHER INFO :
Name Mollie Blue Falkingham
etsy / other online store? www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MollieBlue or commission me through my website
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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