This also ties in with my previous posts on alternative style. Uptight Clothing is owned by the lovely Janice and is based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Janice designs and makes the kind of gowns that any woman can feel sexy and gorgeous in, no matter what their size or shape. The trick? Corsetry!
Many of Uptight Clothing's outfits are worn as wedding dresses by those ladies who feel that white just wont do (although there are several Uptight creations in white too, for those who can't resist). The gowns also suit formal or masked balls, gothic events, handfastings, or indeed any event that calls for something special in the frock department.
The outfits generally come in 2 sections. The first is the skirt portion, often with what feels like a whole acre of fabric in satin or silk, and sometimes with an overskirt of fine organza for extra swish. The second section is the all-important corset. Boned at the front and sides, and laced at the back, all are made to measure the individual. This means you can choose whether to have the lacing slightly open to show your back, or closed to just display the laces themselves (which can be of contrasting or complementary colours). The corsets come in a number of different designs, with shaped necklines, detachable long or capped sleeves, frills, crystals, or some of the embroidery that Janice is incorporating more and more into her work such as dragonflies and ivy leaves.
As all the outfits are hand-made and come with a sensible price tag, they would normally be out of my own price range. So being given the opportunity to wear not one but 2 of the Uptight Clothing dresses, even if they weren't made specifically for me, was too good to miss.
The day was a portfolio shoot for all concerned. This means that the photographs were experimental, designed to try out new ideas and lighting effects, locations, styles etc. At the end of the shoot, the photographs can be used by any of the parties involved to promote their work. Digital photography has made this far more achievable, as many hundreds of shots can be taken without the need for developing to take place to make the final selection of the best images.
Lisa wanted to have older models, instead of the usual young brides seen in most wedding photographer's portfolios. She also wanted to try out some industrial locations, rather than the woods and nature you usually get these kinds of frocks photographed in. Janice wanted some new photographs of her stock as her website is due to be updated soon. And of course, I wanted some pics that I could send to Ray!
Also with us was Lisa's friend Sharon. She is petite and slender, the complete opposite of my 5 foot 9 inch, well-endowed frame. She is fair where I am currently dark (purple actually), so the contrast would be even more pronounced. Second shooting on this occasion was Bryony Claire.
The first pair of frocks we had were to complement our colouring, so Sharon's was pale and very floaty, and mine was strong and bold. Actually putting on the corset needs 2 people, you can't lace yourself into one! It wasn't a perfect fit, as everybody's body is slightly different, but it felt strangely magical as the laces were tightened to reveal a waist I thought had all but vanished over the years.
Wearing a corset makes you walk differently. You have to stand straighter, and really I could have done with a pair of shoes with kitten heels instead of my flat pumps. We made good use of the industrial estate where Uptight Clothing is based, and as it was a Sunday morning there were few workers around to watch us.
For the second pair of frocks, Sharon had a heavily embroidered dark blue/green ensemble and I had a lighter outfit with an organza overskirt and matching ¾ length sleeved shrug which I loved. We also played around with some hats and fascinators made by Violet Peacock in Houston, Texas. For the second set of shots we moved to the small park next to the industrial estate and posed in front of some fabulous forsythia and some equally fabulous graffiti (which just happened to be in the right colours!).
To be honest, there is only so much you can do with a full-length gown and a corset that stops you bending over by more than a few degrees. Many of the poses are similar for this shoot, even though the backgrounds are different – but that's OK because it was the frocks we were showing off rather than us models. Sometimes you have to take a back seat and let the clothes and set do the work, under the guidance of the photographer. When I've done life modelling before, the shapes you make with your body are often what gives the photographs that extra interest, but with a corset, the shaping is already there. I wasn't feeling quite as bubbly as I usually am, and I think that has come through in the pictures (although no one else may realise it), and my hair was a little too short for my own liking as I'd only had it cut a couple of days before. It's longer now and if we did a shoot tomorrow I think I'd personally be happier with the results, but this one was not about me at all, so how I felt on the day is less relevant.
It was a fun day, and an interesting experience. Hopefully Janice is as pleased with the results as we are. There is a possibility of a more organised shoot later on this year with some more of the Uptight Clothing range in different colours, which I am definitely up for!