Hi lovely readers, if your thinking about giving your dressing room or sewing room a much needed makeover this spring 2011 and transforming it into a space that encourages creativity in your dressmaking or dressing room, then besides the small matter of which sewing machine or wardrobe is needed, you most certainly need a mannequin with attitude that will give a strong focal point to your room. Not just a pretty face, mannequins from corseted laced mannequins will prove to be an invaluable work horse or muse, depending on whether your project is sewing or blogging about your latest online conquest at Style Passport.
I met up with Lucy the founder of Corset Laced Mannequins and supplier to Gok Wans Clothes Road show to find out what makes her mannequins so special.
Q - Sharon - Hi Lucy, Welcome to My Passport to Style, as you know I'm a Personal Stylist so beautiful fabric and mannequins come with the territory, by sourcing beautiful fabrics you have elevated the humble mannequin into works of art. What made you to set up as a online supplier of mannequins?
A – Lucy - Hi Sharon, For such a long time, going back to my childhood, I have been fascinated with fabric. So after a lifetime of collecting it and after having a glimpse of an antique mannequin tailored in red brocade, I thought of the perfect way to display my fabrics…the humble dress makers mannequin!
I was a little worried about using my collection. I kept thinking “When it’s gone its gone”, “I may never see the like again”, “What if I make a mistake?” The angst was immense...really, I’m not kidding!
That was some years ago now and I am pleased to say that those precious fabrics are still carefully stored and, when the urge comes, they are gently unfolded, caressed and gazed upon, to be again returned to their place of safety. But the seed had been planted and Corset Laced Mannequins was born.
Q- How exciting! Your mannequins are beautifully crafted what are the processes involved and where do you source your materials from?
A – Lucy – Thank you Sharon. I start with the fabric and I’m always on the look out for something different and unique. Unfortunately, I have to rely on the internet rather than hands on purchases as I rarely get the time to visit fabric stores. Once I have a that I can decide which finish suits the material best, ie corset and laced or flat back finish. Then its time for cutting out! The pattern I use has been changed and improved over the years and now is just about perfect. My trusted industrial Brother sewing machine, named Brian, means I can sail through the sewing process. As all fabrics work differently, each cover requires adjustment; much like a seamstress would fit a dress to the human body, only I don’t need to be quite so careful where I place the pins.
When I’m happy with the finish, the seams is top stitched and the cover fitted to the mannequin with a pretty ribbon or hand stitched along the side seam. For me, nothing beats the moment when everything comes together and I’m gazing at a beautiful mannequin.
Q-Sharon - The satisfaction of producing the finished product must be immense, attitudes to clothing sizes and body shape are changing, which is refreshing, I'm thrilled that the diverse shapes and sizes of your mannequins reflect this, you offer a fuller figured mannequin how popular has that range been with your clients?
A – Lucy – I do offer a larger 12/14 sized mannequin and have tailored larger mannequins for a plus sized dress shop. However, most of the mannequins I create are a size 10/12 for home or boutique display, so it still appears that people want to see a more slender figure.
A- Sharon - I see, that's interesting, personally I love the fact that there is the option of being able to request a commission for a fuller figured mannequin if you want one.
Q- Sharon - You also sell a striking wasp waist mannequin, which I'm sure many of the vintage bloggers on blog spot have their eye on as we speak. Why did you decide to introduce this style of mannequin to your range?
A – Lucy – I collect vintage mannequins and you can’t help but be amazed at the original wasp waisted girls. So it was always on my “to do” list! When I found a supplier I was absolutely thrilled and a little bit daunted! Could I tailor a mannequin with such a tiny waist? This is where good pattern making is so important. After many hours I finally created the pattern and, hey presto, I had created a beautiful wasp waisted mannequin tailored in a Laura Ashley fabric. Needless to say I was very excited!
Q- Sharon - Your mannequins come in child, and male and female sizes and shapes has anyone ever purchased a whole family of mannequins from you?!
A – Lucy – No, they never have! Usually buyers will have a female and child mannequin. Poor Dad doesn’t get included.
Q- Sharon - Giggles- ahh shame! What are your favourite styles at the moment?
A – Lucy – I love the velvet seamless mannequins because they are so timeless and great for so many interiors. I also adore Sophie, a vivid blue damask of a white background...simply stunning! My all time favourite though is Emily, black, slubby linen with beautiful clusters of pink roses.
Q- What do you find most rewarding about your job?
A – Lucy – So many things! Of course the fabric and working from home but it wouldn’t be half as enjoyable without my wonderful customers. They really are incredibly supportive and understanding. When I receive fabulous feedback, it always comes as a wonderful surprise and I’m so grateful. I never take that for granted.
Q- Did you ever predict that you would become so successful as a company?
A – Lucy – Well it depends on what you mean by successful. I’ve always been fortunate enough to call myself a happy person. I just began creating something I love, with materials that inspired me and the success, albeit moderate, came from that. It wasn’t planned, it just happened.
Q- What was the first mannequin you ever produced?
A – Lucy – Gosh, that was a few years ago now! It was a beautiful pale blue with ditsy pink roses and it took me literally days to get the fit right. I nearly gave up but my sister encouraged me to continue and so I persevered. Funny how you never forget your first one!
Q- What has been your biggest challenge as a company?
A – Lucy – Nothing has been overly difficult. It’s sometimes a struggle to keep up with all the demands of running an internet business, the website upkeep, the marketing, the accounts! But I’m completely committed to always moving on with new fabrics and mannequin styles. You can never rest on your laurels and have to keep things fresh. Yes, I tailor mannequins that will never change, but how and with what fabric is always changing and exciting.
Q- What has been your biggest moment?
A – Lucy – Many things! I’ve created a mannequin for a member of the Royal family! That was an honour. I even kept a copy of the cheque so I can show my grandchildren.
A- Sharon - That's pretty thrilling!!
A- Lucy- and Obviously, providing Gok Wan with mannequins and seeing him literally working with Channel 4 for eight weeks was wonderful, (and to be repeated this summer with Britain & Irelands Next Top Model!) I’ve also sold my mannequins to some very prestigious companies such as TM Lewin, Austins and even The National Gallery.
Sharon- Thanks Lucy it has been really pleasure to discover the craftsmanship and passion that goes into your company's product and share it with the readers.
Sharon x x