Over the past year I've been developing a new collection, documenting my progress on Patreon. So this may come as something you've been expecting if you've followed along or a very happy surprise if this is news!
I'll be using this blog post as a way to update everyone on the Hysteria collection as I launch each set (the timeline is a new set a week at the moment) and sharing some of my research and thoughts along the way to explain my creative process.
Female Hysteria was a medical diagnosis dating back to Ancient Egypt, reserved mainly for women, it was said to be in part responsible for the women's suffrage movement, infertility in women, and a healthy sex drive ( all of which were considered ailments for most of history). It was treated with scented oils, masturbation by a midwife and even rumoured to be responsible for the invention of vibrators to help doctors exhausted from "releasing" these women's wandering wombs and venomous female ejaculation.
I find it a fascinating metaphor for the treatment and control of women throughout history and it's a topic I want to explore within my designs; femininity controlled by man made ideas. Natural flowing shapes constricted with straight lines.
The first set of this long journey to Hysteria has launched.
Reverie means different things to different people:
1. a state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing
2. a daydream
3. a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea
And while I think the word has a slightly more positive slant than I originally envisioned for some of the set names, I think Reverie is the perfect introduction to the collection.
The fabric for Reverie is a non-stretch satin with a woven (not printed!) lace motif. This kind of optical illusion, or trompe l'oeil (trick of the eye in French), leads the viewer to perhaps firstly assume this is an applique or embroidery over satin and as you get closer you find it is actually inherent to the not only the garment but the base fabric itself.
Women diagnosed with female hysteria were so often confined to sanatoriums and unnecessary medical treatments to treat lust, bloating, anxiety, insomnia (this list literally could go on and on), all of which we would now recognise as natural and fundamental human emotions and responses. Not just attributed to one gender or sex either.
Reverie seeks to marry a feeling of disconnectedness from whats really there, held in place by tangible straps; to confirm what is innate can be beautiful even if it is perceived differently by some, bringing the viewer of the lingerie closer to inspect what they could assume is lace.
I hope you love reverie just as much as me, I had been stumbling around trying to make my own print or dying fabrics and when I found this gorgeous print I knew it was THE ONE.
The next two sets from Hysteria have arrived. I decided to launch these two together as they use the same lace, two sides of the same coin.
Fervour to me is an elevated state of emotion, an intensity that is dramatic and perhaps over the top or too much. This is reflected in the extra details on each garment, a flounce along the neckline of the bra, hip flounces on the suspender and ruffles over the hips of the thong.
An ancient cause of female hysteria was the wandering womb (N.B. it is important to understand the distinction between wandering - moving , and wondering - thinking!) and through the cincher and lace up corset knicker from Temper, we can keep that tricksy womb in place.
Temper is not only the sliding emotional scale of calm to angry, it also means a neutralising force or modifying element.
A feeling of control is so hard to find within the medical sphere, bodily autonomy and self-advocation is hard to put into practice even if you are aware of the need to do so. Compounded by medical sexism, the female body is rarely put forward as the norm. To neutralise the female body we must make it not equal, but equitable by accepting and celebrating the differences between the female and male bodily experience.