OXFORD University can hold rather revealing conferences... but not often to this extent.

Jesus College played host to a corset conference, with corset makers, models and enthusiasts gathered to share top tips and show off their laced-up wares.

Among them was Italian model Silvia Valli, 46, who showed the assembled admirers how to really wear a corset.

She said: “I came because we are a small community.

“I wanted to meet other people and learn from each other new shapes not normally used, and broaden my mind.”

Visitors spent the weekend at the college in Turl Street taking part in workshops and photoshoots.

The event was organised by Eynsham corset maker Julia Bremble, who runs corset supplies website Sew Curvy and corset design business Clessidra.

Mrs Bremble, 44, said: “It has gone well.

“Everyone was pleased.”

The wearing of corsets dates back hundreds of years but their style and purpose has changed over the centuries.

Mrs Bremble said: “In the medieval times people liked to have a very conical shape but with a flat chest which leads to heaving bosoms.

“In those days men used to wear them as well.

“But it was the Victorian era that gave us the hourglass shape that has stayed popular.”

The conference was also treated to unusual articles of clothing, brought by Sarah Nicol of the Leicestershire County Council museum service.

She brought a number of showpieces from the museum’s collection of antique corsets, the largest in England.

Mrs Nicol said: “One of my favourites is a black cotton corset made by R and WH Symington in 1890.

“It has beautiful clothwork with embroidered detail.”

She said that specimen was an everyday corset for the time, but more colourful than the usual drab undergarments that people wore in those days.

In total, 34 people attended the two days of the conference.

Corset designer Jenni Hampshire, 30, from Birmingham, said: “We are all craftspeople. We view this as an historically-based artistic craft.

“It is very much the equivalent of Savile Row tailoring.

“There is also the pure fashion side of it as well. They are pretty, shiny things.

“Some of us do wear them on special occasions.”