Draped Silk 'Bird's Wing' Corset By Sparklewren

Draped Silk 'Birdswing' Corset By Sparklewren, c. 2012, UK. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice.

Date: c. 2012

Origin: United Kingdom

Fabric: Silk

Brand: Sparklewren


This corset was the first attempt at Sparklewren’s signature ‘Bird’s Wing’ patterning style, inspired by the antique ‘Bird’s Wing’ corset from the Symington Collection held by Leicestershire County Council’s Museums Service. The garment was supposedly named for the fact that it looks like a bird’s wing when laid flat. The original 1900s antique used an unusually high number of 21 panels per side, with a lapped seam construction enclosing a bone in each seam.

As a first attempt at this complex form of patterning, it features some differences to the later refined construction methods used by the brand (although these patterning and construction details are now completely obscured by the corset’s embellishment). The seams are folded, rather than the flat felled style that was later adopted. The stitching process revealed to the designer the importance of vertical stitching accuracy in high panel corsets. Due to some stitch inaccuracy this corset had a flawed fit, and the designer originally intended to scrap the corset for parts, before being persuaded to instead use it as an opportunity to experiment with draped embellishment, created entirely from fabric scraps and offcuts.

Jenni Hampshire began creating corsets under the moniker ‘Sparklewren’ in 2009. The designer’s background in Fine Art has resulted in a body of work akin to wearable sculpture. Historically inspired silhouettes and construction techniques are paired with lush, opulent embellishment and couture construction techniques. The brand specialised in one-of-a-kind heirloom garments, with each garment taking weeks of carefully considered embellishment and craftsmanship.


Kindly loaned by Cathy Hay

Museum number: SP-2019-001


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