I was tipped off about this Vivienne Westwood corset from my buddy Luke- who also happens to own about a quarter of my most treasured Vivienne Westwood pieces (I like to think that they’re safe and sound in his closet). Anyway- one day Luke tells me about this corset, but he warns me beforehand of its present condition.
I mean look at the sad state that this was in. The corset was yellowed, the metal boning was coming out, the mesh was stretched beyond reason. The piece had lost it shape when it was sent to Hell and back.
My approach to Pechuga is archivist meets art history nerd (but make it fashion). I found out the who, what, where, and why for the corset I had. I found out this particular piece was a mid-90’s Vivienne Westwood Gold Label corset, it was made in England, and the same one had been worn by Kim Kardashian in February of 2017. However, the piece I held in my hands looked nothing like the pictures of what Kim was wearing. So that’s when I started making a couple of phone calls.
I called up Margaret’s Cleaner here in LA. Margaret’s is your go-to for couture cleaning. They are the only people in Los Angeles that I would ever remotely trust with pretty much anything. Backstory- when I worked at Vivienne Westwood I approved the loan of a gown for the promo of American Horror Story : Hotel.
Lady Gaga wore the gown and I got a call from Lou (the costumer for the show) who told me that some fake blood had gotten on the hem of the gown and that it needed some cleaning. And that's when I fainted (the gown was worth $5,000). But that's also when I found out about Margaret's.
The Second Stage.
I took the corset to Mike (a tailor I used to work with last year) but he wouldn’t touch it with a 10 ft pole. He told me I needed to call someone trained in corset making for this. I left Mike rather frustrated but happy that he had been so honest with me. So I made another call.
“Hey, henny, I need your help ASAP. Wanna meet up for tea?”
I called up Jesse, a buddy of mine who is a trained pattern maker. He confirmed that he also made corsets. So we met up for tea and Jesse gave my piece an assessment, he told me what he was going to do, what he was going to buy (and where), and how much it was all going to cost. I agreed to it all and in good faith I handed the corset over to him.
The Final Product
When I received the final product I was floored. Floored. The corset looked like it had just come out the shop! I couldn’t believe it. Jesse did an excellent job on it. He replaced the side panels completely and reinforced the edges in the front, the edges in the back, and he even reinforced the two metal boning pieces that outline the breastplate.
I can't even begin to express how impressed I was with the final result. The piece had the shape it was meant to have, it was truly something else- any expectations I may have had of Jesse's work were completely exceeded.
I mean, come on. My number one issue with the corset when I received it were the edges. I don't know why but it just really pissed me off. Like, how could someone have had the audacity to allow this happen? But Jesse turned it out.
The Last Touch
However, the corset wasn't 100% how I wanted. It was 99.9% at best.
So I paid Johnny a visit. I recently met this wonderful tailor named Johnny, we hit it off because that's also my name. He’s Mexican and so full of life and is so passionate about his work. I try to bring him pan dulce whenever I can. You may have seen him in my IG stories he fixes my Westwood, Versace, Gucci, and Dior. He's a magician, my assistant, Rex, calls him iconic. I'll let you decide.
I gave Johnny the task of fixing the top left corner of the corset. The corner looked decent, but “decent” doesn’t command value. So Johnny actually grafted a piece of fabric and attached it to the part that needed work and then he mended one last spot on the back that looked like it had snagged.
Done. I kid you not these pics. are not color edited. At all. The corset was actually yellow and misshapen before it was handed to 3 separate set of hands. Also, bear in mind that the we had to maintain the integrity of the piece, meaning that sizing, fabric stretch and composition for fit and cleaning purposes all had to remain the same as the original or be reverted to its original state. The picture on the right is exactly what I expected the corset to look like for the asking face value.
All in all I think the process took about two weeks and the corset sold within 24 hours of being finished. The process was briefly mentioned in the Vogue article that came out a week ago on my corsets. I felt like the Pechuga blog was the perfect place to elaborate.
Thank you for reading!
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