NYC weekend and Grand Corset Ball 2015

Lucy with Cathie Jung and Melanie Talkington

To start, I want to say that I did bring my camcorder to New York last weekend, but got very little footage – so a video recap would have been bit boring with just my face waffling for 10 minutes as per usual.


I suppose I’ll start from the beginning: back in October 2014, I was delighted to receive an email from Melanie of Lace Embrace Atelier, with news of her Kickstarter campaign. The Grand Corset Ball was to be in the style of La Gracieuses Modernes balls from the past, and would help fund Melanie’s antique corset exhibit, “Fashioning the Body”.


Lucy tying sari

Practicing wrapping my sari prior to the event. Although I initially learned from my aunt how to wear them, I required a refresher from Zessinna. Here I’m wearing my overbust from Electra Designs.

I asked both my sister and my boyfriend if either of them would be interested in attending, and both expressed mild interest at the time but made no commitments. My plans, my health and my finances had a wrench thrown into them in late November due to the car accident, and I truly didn’t know how long I would need to go without a corset in order to fully heal from the ordeal. I felt horrible about not being able to contribute to the Kickstarter at the time, and thus made the announcement that I wouldn’t be able to attend the ball (which is why a few people were a bit surprised to see me there after all!).


After a few months of recuperation, I finally got the green light to start wearing corsets again from my doctor at the end of January – by which time, neither of my prospective dates were able to go to New York that weekend with me. The ball was approaching fast, so I asked Mina LaFleur of L’Atelier de LaFleur if she was going since I knew she lived relatively close-by in Toronto; we could fly down together and share accommodations. She graciously agreed, and only about 3 weeks before the event, we bought our tickets. We also made some loose plans to visit Body Worlds, the Met Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Frick Collection, Central Park, and FAO Schwarz while we were there. (Perhaps a teeny bit ambitious for less than 48 hours in NYC!)


Fast forward to the day before the ball: Mina and I arranged to meet at the airport on Friday morning, and after a brief period of Marco Polo via cellphone, finally found one another in the terminal. Our first flight had been bumped, so we had a 90-minute wait in front of us. I purchased an obscenely large choux bun for the novelty (not a wise choice in retrospect, as I was to be fitted for a corset later). Mina and I boarded our flight, and then we sat on the runway for another hour or so. Thankfully, we had plenty to talk about!


Dark Garden Mockup Fitting

Being a complete dork and unable to contain my excitement at a Dark Garden mockup fitting.

We finally checked into our hotel about 2 hours later than anticipated. I had made plans to have a mockup fitting with Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden, so we dropped our bags off at the hotel and took a cab over to Tricia’s Millinery shop, House of Nines Design. I have only had a couple in-person fittings with corsetieres (as opposed to remote fittings) so it was educational to see what Autumn looked for and how she tweaked the toile. The pic on the left shows my excitement:


Best. Salad. Ever.

Best. Salad. Ever.

After excitedly discussing the ball and Mr. Pearl, we said our goodbyes and decided to walk back to our hotel, during which time we sufficiently checked off “get lost in NYC” from our Bucket Lists. I made amends for the choux bun at dinner that night with an amazing feta, avocado and butternut squash salad at the Stone Street Tavern.


The next day, Mina and I only got to see Body Worlds Pulse and a tiny portion of the Met Museum, but I found it incredibly interesting. At Body Worlds they have a liver which shows natural hepatic grooves from the ribcage – and not caused by corsets – which somewhat confirms the findings of the article I referenced in my Dr. Oz response last month. I would have taken a picture of the liver, but they have a strict no-cameras rule in the exhibit.


At the Met, we mostly focused on the Chinese tapestries, Fragonard paintings and the armor exhibitions. We also indulged in a selfie on the balcony before quickly rushing back to the hotel to get ready for the ball. Mina created everything in her own ensemble, from the dove-grey overbust with asymmetric lace, to the matching palest-blue taffeta bustle, to her reticule and tiara. I wore a lace-smothered gold overbust made by Sparklewren (originally made for Immodesty Blaize) which complemented the vintage cream lace sari purchased from Zessinna last year. (My great-aunt, who lived in Pakistan, was the first to teach me to tie a sari when I was a child, but Laysa kindly gave me a refresher as it had been awhile.)


Mina and myself at the Met

Mina and myself at the Met

Evidently there was some miscommunication about the starting time for the ball as Mina and I (as well as a few others) arrived a bit early, so we passed the time by chatting and of course taking pictures in the powder room until they were ready to accept us in the ballroom.

Lucy in the mirror

Fixing my sari for the 135894017th time in the ladies’ powder room.


Shien Lee (creator of Dances of Vice) helped coordinate the event, and also gave out one of her lipstick shades (Red Lantern) to attendees who donated $100 or more!


I saw many familiar faces at the ball – Kirk Whitmer (deux lunes) and his wife Kerstin, Ian Frazer Wallace (The Whitechapel Workhouse), and Autumn Adamme of course (Dark Garden), all of whom I had met last summer in England at the Oxford Conference of Corsetry.


When the Royal Court had arrived, I was too shy to introduce myself to Bob and Cathie Jung, so Melanie led me over to them and formally introduced us. It was a dream come true to tell them how much I appreciated their immense contribution to the corsetry community, including their willingness to be in the spotlight of mainstream media to educate others about modern waist training (even though Cathie insists that they are just normal, everyday people), their modern medical tests that demonstrate real-time physical effects of corsetry (including cross-section CAT scans of Cathie while wearing a corset, years before the more recent MRI scans), and Cathie’s slow training over close to 40 years being a responsible influence for those who also aspire to train; teaching others that slow and steady wins the race. Cathie is a living testament that a corseted lifestyle, while not for everyone, is very possible and can be done comfortably while maintaining good health.

Autumn Adamme and Lucy at the Grand Corset Ball in NYC

Autumn Adamme and Lucy at the Grand Corset Ball in NYC

Lucy with Cathie Jung and Melanie Talkington

Cathie Jung (center) with Melanie Talkington (left) and Lucy (right) at the Grand Corset Ball.

Mina, Cathie and Lucy

Cathie Jung (center) with Mina LaFleur (left) and Lucy (right) at the Grand Corset Ball.

KLD and Lucy

Kelly Lee Dekay (left) with Lucy at the Grand Corset Ball.

Other people that I was too happy to finally meet and chat with included designer and model Kelly Lee Dekay (seen above); Jasmine Ines, corsetiere behind Sin & Satin; designer Rachael Reichert; model and illustrator Flora Jasper, and many many others – thanks to Vilma, Debbie, Cassie, Raquel, Samantha, Ellie, and everyone else who came up to me that night, as I’m naturally a painfully shy person and if it weren’t for you I probably would have sat in a corner all evening. :p


Later in the night, there was a Q&A session with Cathie and Bob where we could all approach them with our questions, as well as a dance lesson (which I sadly missed), a non-competitive fashion show where people showed off their hand-made and commissioned outfits, and at midnight, two burlesque performances by Perle Noire and Aseult.


Sterling Silver Corset Cover

Sterling Silver Corset Cover made by Anthony Pacesa in 1997, designed to fit Cathie Jung. One of the pieces on display at the ball.

After the ball, Mina and I spent the night packing and indulging in some New York pizza (another thing to check off our list!), and with less than 3 hours sleep, we finally said goodbye to NYC and headed home. Since we didn’t get everything finished on our itinerary, we agreed that we definitely have to return to NY again in the future, and for a longer stay next time! 😉


As mentioned on Facebook, this ball was an amazing opportunity for many of us in the corsetry community in North America to come together for the first time. It’s a beautiful thing when we can all stand in solidarity and support one another’s work, approaching one mutual interest from completely different directions and knowing that coming together only strengthens our community. The night of the ball, there was no sense of competition for waist size, sewing skills, historical knowledge, or dancing ability. I was nervous going in, but honestly it was so worth it for the networking alone (and the music, performances and countless pretties were a bonus too!). I sincerely hope that there are more events like this in the future. 


Thanks to the friendly people of New York for the lovely weekend, thanks to Mina for being an awesome travel companion, and huge thanks to Melanie for organizing the ball! I’m sure this will not be the last of such events.

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10 comments on “NYC weekend and Grand Corset Ball 2015

  1. Suzanne Forbes on said:

    Hi Lucy- I desperately want to see the lovely pictures but they are not showing up on my Chromebook, boohoo! Has anybody else gotten an image display glitch?


    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Suzanne, recently my tech guy put a “lazy loading” picture plugin so that it helps save memory on my site and make it run faster. The pictures should theoretically work on every platform, but have you tried a different browser or tried refreshing the page?

  2. Michael Mayer on said:

    Love the sari! I always guessed you were of a Sub-Continental background! (Lived in India for three years and loved it! Had an Indian GF so I know about Saris and all the ins and outs as it were… 🙂
    You totally don’t need a corset with Sari just a silk Choli and let the midriff fall where it may! With corset looks kinda victorian Memsahib – haha.
    Corsets and you in same are totally HOT but with Sari?? Sorry – bit of a clash but still as always you are stunningly beautiful! :))

  3. EILEEN CARPENTER on said:

    Where can I get the “Busk” for the front of a corset?? I’ve tried all the fabric stores in my area, nobody even knows what I’m talking about when I inquire about them. I need a 15″ one. Thanks for your time. Eileen

    • Lynn on said:

      you can get corset supplies online at (Canadian) – they have a 15″ busk.

      • EILEEN CARPENTER on said:

        Oh, Thanks so much, I’ve got to try making one for myself. I love your info, you do so wonderful. I loved the “Gold Sari” you had on in NY.. I had really long hair like yours & cut it,(wish I had not done that) I know it will grow again just slowly. Thanks again for your help. God Bless.

  4. Hannah Evans on said:

    My goodness, Autumn’s workshop only needs a piano, a library and a computer to be my version of heaven. May I ask what the corset being fitted will look like once it’s finished?
    Also that sari is stunning, especially with the corset. If someone told me you were a princess I wouldn’t have been at all surprised.

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Thank you Hannah! The mockup fitting was actually done at Tricia’s Millinery shop in NYC, as Dark Garden’s boutique is in San Francisco! But the millinery shop was heavenly in its own way, too! The final corset will be an overbust with straps, but I’m going to leave the color a surprise. 😉 And thank you, the sari was purchased separately from the corset, but with incredible luck they matched almost perfectly!

  5. Andrea Yamamoto on said:

    This looks amazing! I wish I could have been there. Also, on a completely unrelated note – is your hair knee length now? It’s been a while since we’ve had a hair update, so I was completely blown away by that back shot!

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Andrea! It would have been awesome to meet you! Perhaps you’ll make the next ball. 😀
      Truthfully, I was a little shocked at the hair length myself when I saw the photo! This was the first time this year that I straightened my hair and saw its true length. I haven’t measured it in probably 6 months; I need to do so again soon.

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