I can’t put a finger on the exact moment when I absolutely fell in love with the process of making corsets, they have been a part of my design sensibility ever since I started studying design. Although, one very distinct memory that I can recall is when Shubhika and I visited LeMill, the one at Breach candy, where she tried on this beautiful emerald green, chiffon, strapless McQueen Gown, that had a corset built into its foundation. The fabric was light as air, but the inner construction was as firm as armor. As I helped her fasten the last hook, I saw how beautifully it just held on to her body, seamlessly shaping it to make her look almost superhuman— elegant, poised and taller all at once! To me, she in that dress could waltz out and almost save the world!
This kind of power that a dress can lend to not only the wearer but also to the onlooker, is why according to me couture exists, to lend power to the world. The desire to master this art of harnessing that power and magic of couture is what keeps me up at night and daydreaming through the day.
At Papa Don’t Preach, I learned right at the start that every member on our A-team is pushed to work to maximize their strengths— and mine, as you can easily guess is the fine art of Corset Making. Having access to live my corset dreams, I embarked upon the journey to recreate that jaw-dropping McQueen flutter in my heart.
Having been through four years of grueling design school, I knew it wouldn’t be easy – to be able to ace my corset pattern, I had to be technically sound, have respect for a woman’s perfectly imperfect body and the individualist nature of fabrics. To this, all of me said —- Challenge Accepted! And so grew my hunger to create that Perfect Corset by Papa Don’t Preach.
Its been almost four years now since I started here, and our corsets have gone from being hidden inside gowns, to tops to now being an integral part of our bridal collections! (WOAH) Completely sheer and deliciously embellished in or signature 3D embroideries, they now feature as central pieces of our Indian couture – adding them in our jumpsuits, gowns and even as separates with lehengas has me feeling like a proud desi les petite main!
Not that corsets were invented by us; they have been in existence for centuries now; It is important, especially to us, to communicate to you the intricate and delicate process of their construction, and the time and care taken to create them. After countless attempts and continuous practice to perfect the corset, it is now a part of Papa Don’t Preach’s classic designs.
In the recent wave of androgyny and anti-fit garments that are populating all the popular fashion weeks in India – Papa Don’t Preach has always been an old school romantic, even in its design aesthetics – it is still about finding fits that flatter and enhance the Indian girl body type- that has been of bigger hips and smaller waists, (a fact that Kim Kardashian has endlessly cashed in on with her hourglass figure, one that we as Indians lucked in on, thanks to our genes.)
A corset’s construction does not have to be excessively complex. As we progressed with our corset-making process and attempts, our focus became one of simplicity in cut, but dexterity in construction. In an endeavor to develop a process that results in exceptionally strong, lightweight, beautiful corsets. A total of 24 hours, that go into constructing the Papa don’t preach corset from cut to finish; we follow the traditional way of stitching the same, sans the leather, lacing or the whalebones that were used from the time of its inception and the fact that these were initially waist trainers. Our 16 contoured panels, with casing and boning, are carefully cut to take the shape of the body. All seams are flattened before attaching the casing. After which the cups attached to it are cased and supported with an underwire. These corsets are double lined using swiss tulle and a busk opening at the back. The sheer nude tulle used in the corsets have been tested, tried and dyed several times to achieve its perfect nude color that suits the dusky and wheat-ish Indian skin tone almost perfectly. The padding used on the corset is custom cut to give the most perfect and flattering neckline. The corsets are custom-made to fit individual clients and are flattering on all body types. Everything is laboriously hand-sewn and hand-finished. The corsets which are used as a foundation garment, are constructed in micro net or satin with a drill interlining, to support strapless pieces well on the bust. We use stichable boning in the corsets, which is strong yet still soft, to not make the wearer uncomfortable. We experiment often with patterns trying and taking inspiration from traditional Victorian cuts.
The learning never stops; with every new corset style we try to construct, we evolve to a better product, the helm of it, is attention to pattern making and years of experience of making a product like this.
In our own little way here at Papa Don’t Preach we are trying to create a story, to leave a lineage, to be that one corset, you wore and never found anything else that ever fit or made you feel like that ever again, perhaps like that one who got away you know?
Video Credits: Divya Mehta