Interview with a corsetiere
Tips on becoming a corsetiere – an interview with Marianne Faulkner, designer of the San Francisco based Pop Antique line, which specialises in eclectic, feminine daywear with a focus on sustainable design and innovative corsets.
How long have you been making corsets?
I made my first proper corset in early 2007. It was surprisingly wearable, although in hindsight a horizontally seamed corset (ribbon corset style, hold the ribbons) with oodles of piping was perhaps not the best choice for a beginner.
When did you start making a living out of it?
Technically, I’m not making a living from corsetry yet. I’m about to finish my MFA in fashion design, which is quite time-consuming. After that, I plan to go into teaching as well as continuing/expanding my corsetry and clothing line, Pop Antique. However, I finalized my ready-to-wear line sheet and patterns earlier this year, with some guidance from Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden Unique Corsetry. Dark Garden “underpins” my line – we’re affiliated, but autonomous, and I think the symbiosis is working out well.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I like going where no corsetmaker has gone before! Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but really I do try to avoid corsets that look generic or like historical recreation pieces – I have a very distinct point of view. In general, I just like making things, I find it very fulfilling. Especially if the thing I am making reduces my client’s waist by six inches and lays perfectly smooth and is comfy on their bones…
Oh yeah – and I get to play dress up with pretty ladies on a regular basis! Really, there’s no end to things I like about the job, and part of that is the fact that I wear a lot of hats besides just stitching the corsets.
Do you have time to make yourself tonnes of pretty corsets and apparel?
Not as much as you’d think, but I have a tendency to appropriate my own samples because I am model size. I actually model a lot of my own stuff, it kind of simplifies the process. Plus, I think it’s really valuable to field-test your own corsets for comfort and see what quirks arise as they age.
Do you ever get bored or tired with what you do?
Honestly, I do get lazy sometimes, or obstinate… Sometimes I just need a break, and I have days when everything seems to go wrong at the sewing machine or patterning table so I need to step back and find a different task. It’s challenging to do something so detail-oriented and precise when you’re really tired or sick. But “bored” and “tired” usually only comes up when I’ve been pulling crazy overtime. There’s almost always something else I can find to do that will be useful and productive. That’s when I do things like sketch, source inspiration, write emails, update the website, work on line planning, tidy the studio…
What’s your advice for aspiring corsetieres out there?
Find a unique point of view. What do you have to offer that another corsetmaker isn’t already doing?
Marianne Faulkner models one of her own designs for Pop Antique.