Corset designed by Donna-May Bolinger

Made by Bolinger, Donna-May in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2006.

Since opening her own business in Sydney in 1992, Donna-May Bolinger has developed a reputation for producing high-quality, hand-made shoes and leather accessories. She designed this digitally-printed corset in 2006, combing fetishist images of feathers, flowers, buckles and tartans with late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century vignettes of naked women. The piece reflects Bolinger’s interest in the sexual nature of corsetry as well as a desire to create sculptural, shapely pieces for the fema...


Corset in digitally-printed leather with black shoulder straps, a low, curved neckline, a curved waistline meeting at a point at centre front, and a rectangular panel over each hip. The garment consists of seven leather panels, drawn together at the centre back by a black chord laced through silver eyelets. The panels feature digitally-printed images of flowers, feathers, buckles and tartan ribbon. Applied to the garment are several small leather panels featuring digitally-printed images of naked women. Lined with black leather.

The corset is contained in a grey cardboard box with lid. A white adhesive label featuring the contact details of the Donna-May Bolinger Atelier is located along one side of the lid.


This digitally-printed leather corset was designed by Donna-May Bolinger and made by her atelier in Sydney in 2006. Production took around 40 hours and involved the work of several master craftsmen.

To begin her design process, Bolinger makes rough sketches followed by a prototype for resolving shape and construction. She employs a changing team of independent, internationally-trained specialists to make and assemble various components. For her shoes, for example, she uses a 'clicker' to cut the leather, a machinist to stitch the pieces together, a master craftsman to pull the leather into shape, a bottom finisher to work on the heels and soles, and a cosmetic finisher to refine the piece with printing, polishing and tinting. Bolinger has also referred to a chemist for the best method of digitally printing her collaged patterns onto leather.

In the past, Bolinger has tested new ways to accelerate this process, and this has led her to combine handmade and machine-made components and to reduce her patterns to a 'shorthand' series. She has also refined her team to include specialists who understand and adapt to the demands of each new project. Bolinger's relationships with her clients have also developed, and she feels that she now understands their needs almost instinctively. Nonetheless, she continues to send half finished prototypes to her clients for approval.
Bolinger, Donna-May 2006


After graduating from college in sculpture, fashion and textile design in 1987, Donna-May Bolinger chose to work with leather for its sculptural qualities. 'Leather is sculptural and architectural. It speaks of the body, is endlessly malleable and sensual; durable yet delicate.' She developed a reputation amongst individual clients and fashion designers for producing high-quality, one-off shoes and leather accessories.

A reduction of Australian import duties in the mid 1980s had a significant effect upon the small number of local makers of customised shoes and leather accessories. Although several companies closed, Bolinger was able to adapt to the new conditions to establish a successful Sydney workshop and showroom. Since 1992, she has made pieces for many leading Australian fashion designers, such as Akira Isogawa, Wayne Cooper and Easton Pearson, as well as international fashion houses that include Sergio Rossi, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana. In 2005 her workshop produced around 8500 pairs of custom-made shoes as well as a significant range of leather accessories that included wallets, bags, cuffs, corsets and belts.
Bolinger, Donna-May 2006


Gift of Donna-May Bolinger, 2007
29 March, 2007

Cite this Object

Corset designed by Donna-May Bolinger 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Corset designed by Donna-May Bolinger |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=24 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
Know more about this object?
Have a question about this object?