Interview with Lorraine White, Founder of White Lane Corsetry

It was after many years of teaching that Lorraine White decided to undertake a passion project of hers, which was to create her own fashion line. Originally setting out to recreate period costumes, Lorraine found the industry to be too niche, deciding instead to pursue the equally exciting costume art of burlesque. ‘White Lane Corsetry’ will be releasing its first corsetry collection in August 2017, a line that is set to please corset enthusiasts and performers alike.

What really sets Lorraine’s corsets apart is her passion and enthusiasm for art history, which she infuses by incorporating the use of historical records and garment sketches into her designs. Lorraine’s aim is to be positioned as one of Australia’s most exquisitely executed burlesque and corsetry designers.

Can you tell me a bit about how your fashion journey started?

I think a pivotal point of my journey was when I visited the UK in 2015. I went over to do a professional development course in corsetry with Jill Salon (renowned corsetiere and author on the subject) at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Doing that really consolidated my knowledge, so it was nice knowing that I’d been doing the right thing up until that point. Then I went and visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, and they had the Alexander McQueen exhibit on. I remember immediately thinking ‘yes, this is what I want to do!’

What made you decide to come to QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA)?

I was looking around for business coaching and found the CEA Fashion 360 Program during an internet search. The fact that is was fashion and business combined really appealed to me. They covered everything that I needed to successfully start a business.

How would you describe White Lane Corsetry?

Glamorous, sparkly, feathery…beautiful silks! I look to bring in an influence from historical patterns. I go to museums quite a bit and look through their archives to try and get inspiration from their examples. I also introduce elements of pinup culture into my work through styling.

What would you say has been your biggest hurdle?

The time to do it all! Unfortunately, I’m only here one day a week. I’m a picture framer full-time and have worked in arts and retail for the past ten years, working as a gallery curator for the first nine years. I was then shuffled around the workplace to become a picture framer as I have good attention to detail. I’ve been doing that for the past eight months.

Who’s your go-to for inspiration?

Alexander McQueen is my biggest inspiration. I loved that he used unusual materials and played with interesting silhouettes. He has the most beautiful attention to detail. There was this one piece in the ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibit that I was just completely mesmerized by. It was this beautiful princess lined tartan dress and every single piece of tartan was lined up in the seams. It was just perfect. I thought, ‘I want to be that good!’

How long have you been creating fashion for?

This is something that’s bubbled on the backburner for a while. I did textiles at university as well as training in weaving and printmaking. I then went and got an education degree because I figured I couldn’t make a living as an artist.

So, you were dancing around it for a while?

Yes, I was dancing around it for a long time. I went off and did a small teaching stint and thought ‘well, this isn’t for me.’ I came back to Toowoomba, got a job in the arts retail side of things and have been plugging away at this for the last six years. I’ve been working on building up my skill set and confidence to try and get to this point.

What have you got coming up?

I hope to establish a boutique in Brisbane and work with Burlesque schools in the area. I want to build up a profile of the brand, get commissions, and generally just produce more work. I’d like to create another collection every year, potentially some retro lingerie!

You’ve mentioned in the past that you would love to get involved in costume recreation but don’t see a market here in Australia. Could you tell me more about that?

Australia doesn’t really have a fashion recreation community. The only events I know of are the Jane Austen Day and Medieval Festival that occur maybe once, twice a year. I wish there was more of it! I mean, wouldn’t it be fun to walk around dressed in Regency and have wonderful picnics? So, that wasn’t really an option unless I was willing to move overseas which I couldn’t do due to family commitments. There may be a potential in the future. Working for someone like BBC Productions would be fantastic.

Five-year plan?

I’ve always been one to keep my options open and move with the market so my main goal at the moment is to establish a presence in Brisbane. From there I want to extend my reputation Australia wide and hopefully one day globally.

Eager to see some of Lorraine’s designs? Check out her website here

Lorraine is a recent graduate of the Fashion360 Accelerator, our six-month program designed to equip early-stage fashion entrepreneurs with all the essentials required to execute and sustain a growing business. It comprises of weekly workshops and masterclasses covering a wide range of topics with industry experts. 

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