The outbreak of World War 1 seemingly marked the end of the corset. The metal that was used to form the bodice and frame of the garment was far too valuable to be wasted on frivolous fashion when it could be used to make guns, ships and other products for the war effort.
So what happened to the corset? I decided to do some research into modern-day corset makers. This bought me to Jules Hawkins, an internationally successful leather corset maker and owner of the Bristol based brand, Lux Tenebrae.
Pictured below is the absolutely stunning Calista wedding dress by Lux priced at £3250
I had the chance to catch up with Jules and discuss her remarkable and eccentric beginnings in the industry.
JP: So, what got you started making corsets?
JH: I’ll set the scene: it’s the late 90s, I’m a performance artist (a fire breather to be exact) and I have a very important show booked. Now, I don’t have anything to wear… I need something beautiful, enchanting and above all – fire proof. So it had to be leather! In a fluster, I cut up a pair of soft leather gloves and fashioned a very small but very well fitted leather bikini. It was a huge success and on the night of my show, I began taking orders from people who wanted the same leather bikini that I’d made, within a couple of months I had a waiting list. Lux was born!
JP: Brilliant! I have to say, you’re the first fire breathing corsetiere I’ve met as of yet. Where did you train your leather working skills?
JH: I’m entirely self-taught, as most corsetieres are now. There are very few fashion colleges that offer a leather working courses. No one works with the same leather as us either.
JP: Who would you say has influenced your work?
JH: Quite a few; Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Jean-Paul Gautier to name but a few. Abstract artists also influence me – particularly the work of Rothko. I’m also fond of Wabi Sabi art.
JP: Have you worked with any high-profile clients?
JH: I have indeed, but I adhere to strict client confidentiality! (Jules did tell me whom she has worked with and it is painful for me to not be able to say who it is, but I can assure you they’re a big deal!)
JP: What advice would you give to up-and-coming fashion designers?
JH: Don’t be put down by people’s opinions of your work, do your best and do what you love.
JP: Do you have any unusual work stories?
JH: Well, I often get a few outlandish requests… A lot of transvestites and drag queens have asked me to cut slits in the gloves I make them, so their nails poke through. However, I try to advise them that ‘Wolverine’ is never really a good look!
JP: You’re steering them the right way! Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
JH: Yes! I have entirely re-worked and upholstered a beautiful Chaise longue for a Shanghai client. I’m also in talks to be a potential supplier to a Tokyo based festish shop that is ironically located behind a Chanel and Gucci store!
One of Lux’s best sellers this year is this beautiful Martini Dress priced at £599:
She and two other assistants (Paige Fortune and Elaine Andrews) offer a truly quality experience throughout the entirety of your order, they take great pride in getting your garment measured, made and fitted to perfection!
You can view Jules’s work at www.luxtenebrae.com
All photo credits – Morag McDonald / farthingalesla.com / corsets365.com