OCOC BLOG


Saturday night at OCOC14

Autumn Adamme and Ian Frazer Wallace at high table.  picture copyright Julia Bremble

Autumn Adamme and Ian Frazer Wallace at high table.  picture copyright Julia Bremble

Written by Julia Bremble

Saturday night at the Conference is a special affair.  After the workshops of the day, there is a little social time before drinks, dinner and more socialising in the bar.  The evening starts with Pimms on the quad Oxford style and  this is served up with a healthy dose of glamour.  Anybody who has watched Inspector Morse on TV may be familiar with the scene!

The drinks reception is where all in attendance gather before dinner to have a chat and catch up with those who they may not have had a chance to meet yet.

Glasses ready to receive the Pimms - a gin based cocktail which is particularly popular in Oxford.  picture copyright Julia Bremlbe

Glasses ready to receive the Pimms - a gin based cocktail which is particularly popular in Oxford.  picture copyright Julia Bremlbe

Here am I with the Godmother of Modern Corsetry, Autumn Adamme.  It was Autumn who back in the 80's and early 90's decided that corsets should be worn on the outside!  Us modern corsetieres have alot to thank her for.  Autumn was particularly enamoured with the picture of Elizabeth I hanging in the Peter North room where the College silver is stored.  picture copyright Steph Selmayr

Here am I with the Godmother of Modern Corsetry, Autumn Adamme.  It was Autumn who back in the 80's and early 90's decided that corsets should be worn on the outside!  Us modern corsetieres have alot to thank her for.  Autumn was particularly enamoured with the picture of Elizabeth I hanging in the Peter North room where the College silver is stored.  picture copyright Steph Selmayr

Our special guest last year was Ian Frazer Wallace of the Whitechapel Workhouse and he was with us again this year.  It has become a tradition for him to make a showpiece for Saturday night.  This year I was very priveledged to be part of this as Ian asked me to make the corset pattern for his Chanel inspired suit.  More on that in a separate post.

Ian Frazer Wallace with his Chanel inspired corsetted suit made from wool boucle and using traditional corsetry, tailoring and milinery techniques.  Modelled by beautiful and effervesent April.  picture copyright Chris Murray

Ian Frazer Wallace with his Chanel inspired corsetted suit made from wool boucle and using traditional corsetry, tailoring and milinery techniques.  Modelled by beautiful and effervesent April.  picture copyright Chris Murray

After drinks we have dinner in Hall.  Not 'the great hall' or 'the hall' or 'the dining hall'.  In Oxford, the place you eat is simply 'Hall' and all colleges have a very grand Hall where all students eat all meals.   When you become part of an Oxford College, whether as a student, member of staff or conference delegate, you really begin to understand where stories like "Alice in Wonderland" and other fantastical tales from this city come from.  It is literally another world.

Dinner is a three course grand affair followed by a talk by our special guest.   The food is served by attentive waiters and waitresses and wine flows freely along with the conversation.  At night, Hall is a magical place to be.

Jesus Hall is a grand room presided over by Elizabeth I and accompanied by portraits of other luminaries of Jesus including Lawrence of Arabia who was once a student here.  picture copyright  Tavan Photography

Jesus Hall is a grand room presided over by Elizabeth I and accompanied by portraits of other luminaries of Jesus including Lawrence of Arabia who was once a student here.  picture copyright  Tavan Photography

After dinner our very special guest takes the stand.  This year it was Autumn Adamme, Founder and Proprietress of Dark Garden Corsetry and Couture in San Francisco.  Autumn who has been making corsets since she was 10 years old,  spoke about her life in corsetry, her influences, inspirations and mentors,  and then went on to describe her business philosophies which covered the joys and pitfalls of running a corsetry business.  I  found myself nodding vigorously at almost everything she said as I know many others did too.    Autumn gave an interesting and inspiring speech which I am sure will serve to guide many corset makers - beginners and experienced alike, through the rest of their careers in corsetry.   It is always affirming to know that the things we think and believe and are passionate about in our own ideas and practices, are all things that have been felt and experienced before  by others who share those passions, and who have blazed the trails before us.

Autumn also spoke of her time in Paris this summer, studying with Mr Pearl, the acknowledged leader of our field.  picture copyright Chris Murray

Autumn also spoke of her time in Paris this summer, studying with Mr Pearl, the acknowledged leader of our field.  picture copyright Chris Murray

After dinner it's time to assemble in the Fourth Quad - that's the student bar! It's in a cellar and is the perfect place for cosy chatting about corsets!  In naming the pictures below, I see they are a bit of a 'who's who' in Modern Corsetry

Socialising in the Fourth Quad - the student bar - here's Jenni of Sparklewren, Rosie of Rosie Red, Lowana of Vanyanis, Hannah of Neon Duchess, Liz of Elizabeth Armstrong, Steph of Past Pleasures, Caroline of Corsets by Caroline. picture copyright Chris Murray

Socialising in the Fourth Quad - the student bar - here's Jenni of Sparklewren, Rosie of Rosie Red, Lowana of Vanyanis, Hannah of Neon Duchess, Liz of Elizabeth Armstrong, Steph of Past Pleasures, Caroline of Corsets by Caroline. picture copyright Chris Murray

I feel like i'm in Fame!  Here we have Lucy of Lucy's Corsetry, Karolina of Karolina Laskowska Lingerie, Ian of Whitechapel Workhouse, Roxann of Stitched Up, Gerry of Morua Designs, and that little flash of blue hair belongs to Alice of Videnoir.   picture copyright Chris Murray

I feel like i'm in Fame!  Here we have Lucy of Lucy's Corsetry, Karolina of Karolina Laskowska Lingerie, Ian of Whitechapel Workhouse, Roxann of Stitched Up, Gerry of Morua Designs, and that little flash of blue hair belongs to Alice of Videnoir.   picture copyright Chris Murray

Caption competition?   picture copyright Chris Murray

Caption competition?   picture copyright Chris Murray

So that's Saturday night at OCOC.  I am so happy and so proud that so many friendships and bonds have been made at OCOC.   The next post about the conference proceedings will be all about Sunday, where the photographers and models come out to play!  
 

For more pictures, click here.

 

Oxford Conference of Corsetry 2014 - the run up

It's been 4 weeks since the end of the second Oxford Conference of Corsetry, which is quite an unreal feeling, because it still only feels like the first one took place last week instead of a whole year ago in 2013!  However, we're so advanced at this point that most everything is in place for 2015, and we're busily gathering materials for 2016!

As has now become habit, the 2014 Conference was over and done with in a matter of nano-seconds, at least that's how it felt!  Many people turned up at Jesus on the Thursday evening preceeding the Conference, and more still arrived on Friday.  In fact, by Friday lunchtime, most of the delegates had arrived and were happily meeting up, catching up and going on the various excursions they had planned together via our own private Facebook group for conference attendees.  There were ghost tours, morse tours, science tours, history tours and a fabric discount to be had at the local haberdashery.

 About 75% of delegates this year were returners from 2013 which left a good 25% who were 'new'.  Those new people were comprised heavily of my own Sew Curvy students plus some others who are well known 'online', so between class, online and the Facebook group, many of them knew eachother already and even if they hadn't met before, the atmosphere during the conference is so friendly and inviting that I think I am right in saying that nobody really felt 'new' at all!  More than a few people have likened our Conference community of corsetieres to a big happy family, and this sentiment does leave me feeling extremely warm and fuzzy inside because it is exactly, and I mean exactly,  how I envisioned things should, would and could be.

Corset Makers from around the world gather at Jesus College Oxford over August Bank Holiday.

My own Conference experience obviously starts somewhere in October of the preceeding year when tickets go on sale (the first of many new traditions).  There is of course a constant trickle of Conference administration to do throughtout the year,  but things really hot up about a month or so before.  It really doesn't matter how well prepared one is, there are always last minute jobs to do, things which can't be done until soon before the event and ofcourse there is the press interest which has to first be generated and then worked through to our best advantage. 

Pre-press photography and reporting at the Sew Curvy Studio before the conference.  This appeared in the Oxford Mail

At the beginning of August, the first member of my team, Gerry Quinton arrived at Sew Curvy HQ.  She planned to help me with the workload and complete her own Conference projects during the two weeks leading up to the event.  We soon settled into the routine of Sew Curvy work in the mornings - she would pick and I would pack, and then  conference work in the afternoons and copious amounts of hand stitching in the evenings.   We each made our "Jesus corsets" during this time but more on those in separate posts.

Actually Gerry never really stopped making her Jesus Corset, until the moment she needed it!  Here she is in the packed car on the way to Jesus, needle in hand.

Next to arrive on the Wednesday prior to Conference, was Alison Campbell who has proved herself invaluable to me over the year and has literally been my right hand - responsible for all of the branding and print design for the Conference including this very website which I'm sure you'll agree is pretty snazzy.  Alison bought with her a whole car full of 'stuff' and there was much catching up while gin drinking that evening. 

Gin and catch up, but we're still working! Happy days!

On Thursday the three of us de-camped to Jesus where  the last minute hard work frenzy started - making up badges, packing mannequins, putting the finishing touches to our presentations and class materials, buying party dresses, last minute print and sundry shopping,  and most importantly, sorting out the 70 lace samples which had been loaned to us by Solstiss who had given us a very special deal for conference delegates. 

The lace sorting took a while ... a long while.  No gin this time, couldn't risk getting in a muddle! Note virtuous bottle of water on table.

By Friday evening, the rest of the team, Jenni Hampshire and Marianne Faulkner had arrived from Birmingham and we set about setting up our Conference rooms for the event!   There was much more to set up than last year.  We had pictures to display, more mannequins than ever - in fact some of them were quite naked even after set up - and much more class material to prepare. 

Alison setting up the display in the main plenary room.  Here we have one of her own designs, a silk Sparklewren, the now famous Cage dress made by Rosie Red and last seen being worn by Helena Bonham Carter in Vanity Fair Magazine, and an exquiste leather corset kindly loaned to us by Bizarre Design.

There was also more to go in the goody bags than there was last year.  Our lovely sponsors Janome provided pads, pens and tape measures along with handy sewing machine guides, there was the Morgana Doll, some corset cut outs to clothe her with -both made and designed by Alison, and ofcourse Foundations Revealed provided the beautiful canvas goody bags (again designed by Alison).  While 'team 1' unpacked and dressed the mannequins, 'team 2' stuffed the goody bags and sorted out the fabric swap table which was once again over flowing.

The goody bag this year was packed full of fun and pretty things but would have been wonderful just on it's own!

By midnight, we were as ready as we could be, and far too tired for gin drinking.  Read the rest of the report over the next few days.  There's simply too much to tell for one blog post!!

'Twas the night before Christmas ... Oh no sorry .. .. T'was the night before OCOC ....