Interview with Angela Friedman of Angela Friedman

I am quite thoroughly infatuated with Angela Friedman’s work, as you can probably tell from my effusive review of her divinely light and exquisitely beautiful corsetry. Please do keep in mind that I’m quite biased because I’ve been enamoured with the ethereal beauty of ballet costumes for many, many years, but that doesn’t change the fact that the first corset I purchased from her made me fall madly and wildly in love with their fine weightless beauty. And obsessed I stay to this day. Interview below!

MEET THE CORSETIERES – Angela Friedman of Angela Friedman
Name : Angela Friedman of Angela Friedman
Corset Brand: Angela Friedman
Role: Founder
Country where you’re based: USA

How and when did you become interested in corsets?  What made you think of creating / designing corsets?
I started out working in the world of costumes. Most recently, I worked at the New York City Ballet as the Head of the Ladies’ Department of the Costume Shop from 2009-2012. Prior to that job I had done a variety of freelance and shorter term stints at regional theater and opera companies (Milwaukee Repertory, American Players Theater, Glimmerglass Opera, etc).  There definitely was a relationship between that work and my current – there is a lot of crossover between fashion and costume designers for example, and construction techniques are similar between the two.  More than anything else, in my theater/opera/ballet work I learned to work quickly, efficiently, and on demanding deadlines. I don’t think that I would have made it in fashion as far as I have without that rigorous training.

My love of corsetry is really what began my transition from costumes to fashion.  I had done many corsets for period productions, opera singers (surprisingly, they love them!), and of course tutu bodices which are largely the same construction.  Lingerie was actually an afterthought, simply because it coordinates so well with corsets and because it’s a specialty item that’s largely ignored by the industry. I wanted to change that!

How long have you been making / designing corsets? Where do you get your inspiration from for corsets?
I think I made my first corset in 2003, but I didn’t seriously begin pursuing corsetry until around 2008.  Most of my inspiration and influence comes from some sort of historical research (I challenge any designer who claims otherwise) – especially with corsets.  No one today makes them as well as they were made when most every woman in Western society wore one.  We just don’t have access to the same tightly woven cloth or the time to utilize the same couture techniques today.  I do a lot of research in art, dressmaking manuals and published patterns and patents, and of course antique fashion plates!
When designing a historically inspired garment, I do always keep things like silhouette, proportion, and available colors and materials in mind.  Without those building blocks, you would end up with an entirely modern looking garment.  But when it comes to the modern woman who hasn’t spent her entire life in corsets, it’s just not possible to achieve some of those dramatic shapes without years of training, so there are things that are modernized.  While some of these details may not be completely accurate, I think that women of the time would have been happy to wear something like this were it available.

What was your first memory of corsets?  What was your first experience wearing a corset?   What was your first/favourite corset like? 

I was alway very into history (even as a child), so I went to a lot of living history and reenactment events throughout my childhood and teen years.  (I was always dressing up as a pioneer girl for Halloween!)  So I suppose that would have been my initial introduction, but then I became more familiar with corsets as I began working in theater on period productions like Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde.

How are your corset tastes different now to what they were then?  
Do you still wear corsets?   How often do you wear corsets if so?   Are there any issues you face when wearing corsets? 
I don’t wear corsets nearly as often as I used to.  I suppose it’s a classic case of “the cobbler’s children have no shoes!”  I spend so much time making clothing and corsets for others that I rarely have the time or energy to devote to projects for myself.  Of course, sometimes the case of a costumed masquerade ball presents itself and then of course I simply must dress up!  But for the most part you can find me in comfortable skinny jeans and loose blouses. 🙂

Do you have any tips for putting on your corset?

I created a little guide to lacing up your corset properly, and I send it to all of my clients!  (See attached here: corset lacing how to)  Feel free to publish this!  The most important thing is to always remember to loosen the laces before clasping or unclasping the busk.  This is what keeps the busk from warping or pinching your skin (which hurts like the dickens!)

What kind/shape/era of corsets do you prefer?  
Do you have any other preferences in your corsets?
My favorite corsets tend to be of the late Victorian era.  There’s something so stunning about the level of detailing they have – embroidery, lace trims, matching garters, cording and piping…  They were truly works of art.  I try to mimic some of those details in my work, but unfortunately today few clients have the budget for something as extravagant as those!

What 3 tips would you give to corset newbies?

1. Do your research first!  Many people, in a rush to get a corset as quickly as possible, end up buying something that’s rather poorly made or not from a reputable seller.  Read product reviews, ask for recommendations, learn about what types will work best for your event / budget / body type / specific needs.  That said, if you aren’t a standard “core size” (or you’re very tall or short, busty, curvy, asymmetrical, or have specific concerns about comfort or fit), you are very likely going to require a custom garment for the best results.  Do your research before expecting an off-the-rack corset to work wonders on a body it isn’t meant to fit.
2.  You get what you pay for!  Think you found a great deal on a corset on ebay?  Sorry to be blunt, but it’s probably cheap because it is cheap.  You’re just not going to find a heavily structured, silk, steel-boned corset for $50.  Why?  Because the materials alone cost more than $50, much less the labor that goes into it!  There is a reason that corsets can be costly, and I promise it’s not that we corsetieres are trying to rip you off.
3.  If it’s your first corset, buy something versatile.  It can be tempting to go straight into fuchsia and rhinestones, but for most people something simple and black would be more easily incorporated into their existing wardrobe.  Imagine how you will mix and match it with different ensembles, because a corset is an investment!  You can buy something extravagant later on, once you’re more certain that corsets are for you!

Do you have any favourite fellow corsetieres?
Oh goodness, so many of them!  For a short list, I would say Mr. Pearl (of course!), Sparklewren, and Royal Black, but there are many more!

And now for the random Q’s! 🙂 
Any pets? What’s their silliest quirk if so?

My cat Clarence!  He’s truly my best friend 🙂  The funniest thing about him is that he’s ENORMOUS but he has this little tiny voice that you can barely hear, and it sounds like a little squeak!  Poor guy!

Favourite quotes? Books? Movies?
I’ll have to get back to you on that one 🙂

Other passions or hobbies? 
Favourite things right now?
I love cooking and baking (especially pie – I’m a little bit of a pie whiz!), knitting and crafts of all kinds, and anything to do with animals!  Lately I’ve been practicing my knitted hats a lot, and I’m hoping to move onto mittens next. 🙂
Name Angela Friedman, Inc
tel 847-691-1836
Instagram @AngelaFriedman
etsy / other online store?
or commission me through my website

RG Raven blog signature
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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Raven Tao

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