Tag Archive: lace embrace

Wearing Corsets with a Stoma – Interview with Kitty

Kitty is a writer based in Canada, who runs the site Girly-Girl’s Ileostomy Blog – a no-nonsense explanation of life with an Ileostomy, as told by a foul-mouthed individual with no shame

Last year I received several questions from viewers wondering if it’s safe to wear a corset if one has an ileostomy. Having no personal experience, I asked around. One helpful follower then introduced me to Kitty’s blog, and to my surprise I also found that there were a few different corsetieres who specialize in making corsets for ileostomates.

I love Kitty’s candor, and found it fascinating that she is not only able to wear corsets with her ostomy, but also that her corset is used for stabilizing her hepaptosis (floating liver) and scoliosis. Her posts on corsetry can be found here and here. I asked if she would be willing to share a bit more of her personal experience on my blog, and she graciously agreed.

(Please note that this is in context of an ileostomy only, and may not work the exact same way for other types of stomas. If you have a stoma and would like to wear a corset, please speak with your doctor!)


 

When did you take an interest in corsets? Was it merely aesthetic, or was there something else to it as well?

Kitty: I first became interested in corsets as a young girl. They resembled my TLSO backbrace I wore for ten years to stop my spine from curving any more with scoliosis, except they were beautiful–a celebration of the female shape instead of the hard plastic ugly shape I had been fitted for at the Children’s Hospital.

Are your doctors okay with you wearing a corset? Did any of them have objections due to negative myths?

Kitty: One of the doctors I had in British Columbia actually signed papers saying I needed a corset for my back, but stupid me, I never got around to fighting that out with the insurance company.

You had experience with back bracing when you were younger – many of my viewers/ readers have scoliosis, and some have said that they worry that wearing a corset might trigger unpleasant memories of being braced. In your experience, how does a corset differ from the back brace (comfort-wise, aesthetically or otherwise)?

Kitty: Ah, silly me,  I already answered about the back-brace. It was a very unpleasant time being braced and physically and emotionally bullied by both teachers and my peers, but it really has no bearing on me now. I have gotten the perspective of years behind me, and to take that thick plastic foot-ball players’ uniform compared to my delicate corset–well, there really is no comparison.

How did you go about finding a corsetiere who was comfortable making the proper accommodations for your medical needs (e.g. asymmetric construction for scoliosis, access to your ileostomy, ensuring that your organs were properly positioned with the right silhouette and reduction)?

Kitty: I was fortunate enough to live near the same corsetiere as Dita Von Teese goes to–it is called Lace Embrace in Vancouver, British Columbia, and I found it quite by accident while searching for such on the internet.

How is your corset made differently to standard corsets? Are you able to access and change your ostomy bag easily? Does the corset prevent your bag from filling properly and create discomfort or bloating?

Kitty in her custom peach underbust Corset from Lace Embrace Atelier, which offers back support, lifts the stomach and liver, and features a concealed flap to access her bag.

Kitty in her custom peach underbust Corset from Lace Embrace Atelier, which offers back support, lifts the stomach and liver, and features a concealed flap to access her bag.

Kitty: My corset has a side panel that flows smoothly over my ileostomy bag, that I can simply unhook whenever I need to dump my bag. The bones were also removed from that section, though you couldn’t tell if you looked at it, which was the point.

I have suffered no ill-effects of my corset, I have even slept in my corset. I just have my normal bag on, and fit the corset over it easily, tie it up, and I am ready to go.

You mentioned in your blog that you have issues with your ligaments, and the corset helps keep your liver from dropping. How does that condition affect your daily quality of life (is it painful or nauseating), and how does the corset help?

Kitty: With the corset, it lifts up both my stomach and liver which otherwise float a bit inside of my abdominal cavity.

One of the concerns I’ve heard regarding stomas is the risk of hernias. Was the extra pressure from a corset a concern for you in this situation – or do you think that the specific application of pressure on your abdomen by the corset would help to prevent such a hernia from occurring?

Kitty: Because I tie it correctly, my organs are not being pushed down to the bottom of the corset, but lifted, and I have never felt like my stomach was bulging or that I might be getting a hernia. The corset lifts pressure from that area and transfers it up to my rib-cage.

Were there any drawbacks you found to wearing a corset?

Kitty: The only drawback is you will need someone to help you tie it up until you get a hang of it yourself! I still have yet to do it alone!

Were there any other unexpected benefits that you discovered from wearing the corset – either physically or emotionally?

Kitty: Of course the benefit is a sexy silhouette, you always have grand posture, and you feel pretty darn good doing so 🙂

What advice can you give to others who have an ostomy and are looking into corsets (either for fashion or for therapeutic purposes)?

Kitty: For ileostomates: dont be afraid to try on or wear corsets. if you buy one already made, have the seller make a snap-panel over your bag area so you can let that bugger breathe and do what it does best. Eat as you normally would, but more grazing during the day and avoiding dumping one big meal all at once into your stomach.
I chose a corset in a pale peach so it would go under all of my clothing, but that is a personal choice–it’s up to you!
<3 Kitty

Huge thanks to Kitty for sharing her experience with us! If you’d like to read more about Kitty’s custom corset from Lace Embrace, here’s her post on her fitting appointment, and here’s her post on her finished corset.

 

NYC weekend and Grand Corset Ball 2015

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.

Where to Buy Corset Dresses

This post is a duplicate of the permanent page Guided Galleries –> Corset Dresses. The guided galleries are part of the corset brand research tools, which are designed to help prospective corset customers shop more wisely. This post may be out of date in the future, please refer to the permanent page linked above to get the most up to date information.

Beyoncé Knowles in a Thierry Mugler gold corset dress

Beyoncé Knowles in a Thierry Mugler gold corset dress

Corset dresses are highly specialized garments, which can be used for foundation under other dresses (such as those that Puimond provides for other designers to “build upon”), for weddings, or for clubbing / other fun events. They can act like combination shapewear, supporting the bustline and allowing the use of strapless dresses overtop (rather than using a strapless bra), cinching in the waist (instead of using a cincher), and smoothing over the hips (in lieu of a girdle).

Searching “corset dresses” on Google tends to yield poor results because many clothing lines simply offer dresses with boned bodices. True corset dresses (a structured garment where the back of the dress laces up the entire length) are sometimes not that easy to find, but they come in several variations which I’ll try to cover in this gallery.

*Corset makers, if you have made a corset dress and would like your work showcased in this gallery, please email me a photo of your best work and include a 1-sentence description and website or shop URL. Safe-for-work photos are preferred! Thank you!

A bride in Morùa Designs (who works in both the US and UK) shows off the back of her stunning corset wedding dress.

This floor length dress is boned down and laced to the knee, and expertly sculpted in true Bizarre Design fashion (Netherlands). Model: Dena Massque. Photo: Me-Chiel.

This gorgeous plunge corset dress embellished with lace and crystals was designed by Viola Lahger (Sweden). Model: Insanitea Photo: Josephine Jonsson.

Sparklewren (UK) is experienced in making incredibly smooth and ethereal custom corset dresses, here shown with detachable stole. What an enviable hip spring.

This floor-length corset gown by Royal Black (Austria) laces to the knee and is cut for serious curves. Model/styling: Červená Fox, Photo: Julian M Kilsby (ShadowFlux)

Bibian Blue (Spain) always has a selection of corset dresses in her various collections, like this Lys Ensemble with printed angels and handmade flowers, €695. Model: SINderella Rockafella. Photo/styling: Iberian Black Arts

KMKDesigns Located in MN, can make custom corset dresses to order in many styles, this mermaid style corset dress is made from blue silk with hand stitched lace and rhinestones.

KMKDesigns, located in MN, can make custom corset dresses to order in many styles; this mermaid style corset dress is made from blue silk with hand stitched lace and rhinestones.

Puimond (USA) makes awe-inspiring corset dresses, ranging from simple and sleek to highly customized like this ensemble estimated at $10,000.

This stunning corset dress with sheer fluted skirt by Persephone Corsetry (UK) won the Young Designer Award in 2014. Photo: Stuart McClay. MUA: SC Makeup. Model: Michaela Crompton

This stunning corset dress with sheer fluted skirt by Persephone Corsetry (UK) won the Young Designer Award in 2014. Photo: Stuart McClay. MUA: SC Makeup. Model: Michaela Crompton

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The Swallowtail Corset Dress by The Bad Button (USA) features a fully corseted form from shoulders to hips, while freefloating layers of silk gauze create the illusion of a wings when walking. Model: Samantha Jean Moore. Photo: Aesthetic Aperture

This sweet and lovely Lolita underbust corset dress features a full skirt to accommodate a blouse and petticoat underneath. By Skeletons in the Closet Corsetry (Netherlands).

This sweet and lovely Lolita underbust corset dress features a full skirt to accommodate a blouse and petticoat underneath. By Skeletons in the Closet Corsetry (Netherlands).

“The Love Warrior”, designed by Maison Moginot (France) with help from Mr. Pearl, is dripping with jewels. Model: Amanda Lepore

This audio-sensitive fiber optic dress lights up when the music gets loud! Designed by Rachael Reichert in NY, USA.

Contessa Gothique Design recently shared this radiant plunge, full-skirted corset dress – those curious to make their own can also read her 2-part tutorial on Foundations Revealed.

Stunning lattice-embellished corset dress made by Lace Embrace (Canada)

Designer Maya Hansen (Spain) always includes at least one corset dress in her collections. This one is modelled by Porcylin.

Red sweetheart corset dress with black lace appliqué, a custom design by Sweet Carousel Corsetry (Canada).

Scoundrelle’s Keep has four different styles of corset dresses, including overbust or underbust, long skirt or short. Currently shown is the Evangeline corset dress for $500.

While not likely available for purchase, I cannot complete a gallery of corset dresses without this piece by Ziad Ghanem (modelled by Immodesty Blaize, Fall 2010)

While not likely available for purchase, I cannot complete a gallery of corset dresses without this piece co-designed by Ziad Ghanem, made by Ian Frazer Wallace and modelled by Immodesty Blaize (Fall 2010)

This Jessica Rabbit inspired mini corset dress was designed by Orchid Corsetry (UK). Model: Miss Anne Thropy. Photo: Damona Art.

Atelier Sylphe (France) made this lovely zippered and ruffled creative corset dress, modelled by her client (Virginie).

Marvelous Mayhem (USA) makes both full-skirt and fitted custom corset dresses

Vollers Corsets has a few different corset dress styles, but my current favorite is this Veco floor-length custom dress for £950

*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company on this list. This is for informational purposes only.

Where to Buy Corsets Smaller than 18 inches

Waisted Couture 16" custom overbust (Model: Miss Mosh)

Waisted Couture 16″ custom overbust (Model: Miss Mosh)

A new permanent gallery is now up! It’s easy to find standard-sized corsets that start at an 18-inch waist, but a small portion of the population is small-framed and have a natural waist of less than 22 inches (hard to believe, but they do exist) and they may want a corset that’s smaller than 18 inches. Very dedicated tightlacers may also choose to train past 18 inches and their options are slightly limited. Head over to my new gallery of teeny corsets, where you’ll find several makers who are experienced in creating corsets smaller than 18 inches!

Where to Buy Traditional S-bend (Edwardian) Corsets

Note that this post is a copy of the same one under the “Research Corset Brands –> Guided Galleries” menu. It is part of a collection of articles to help corset enthusiasts shop more wisely.

S-bend corsets, straight-front corsets or “health” corsets were invented in the early 1900’s during the Edwardian era and popularized by the Gibson Girls. At the time, the S-bend was thought to be healthier for the wearer as it placed less direct pressure on the front of the abdomen. It also promoted a “proud” posture where the pelvis tilted forward and the bum was pushed back while the shoulders and bust were thrust forward, and may have affected gait in such a way that caused a lady to swing her hips in a lovely manner (read: swagger). However, this corset style was later found to exacerbate lumbar lordosis (swayback) and thought to be worse for the spine, compared to a Victorian corset which maintains a more neutral posture.

Today, longline and straight-fronted corsets are quite popular, but are typically modernized to be merely ‘Edwardian-inspired’ and don’t cause/ support swayback the way that traditional S-bends had. I don’t condone regular use/ training in a traditional S-bend or Edwardian corset, but many women with natural lordosis and/or shelf-bums have expressed to me that they feel that traditional S-bend corsets would better suit their figures, and they’re beautiful for special occasions – so here is a non-exhaustive list of corsetieres who offer these Edwardian beauties.

Le Belle Fairy Edwardian overbust wedding corset ensemble, $599

La Belle Fairy is a corsetiere in BC, Canada, who specializes in traditional Victorian and Edwardian corsetry. She uses modern hardware in her corsets (including an extra wide German-steel busk to ensure the straight front), but she adapts vintage patterns to your measurements for a beautiful fit. Her Edwardian corsets start at $425.

Atelier Sylphe Corsets Edwardian reproduction

Atelier Sylphe Corsets is a name that every corset enthusiast should know. The owner, Joelle, is an antique corset collector in Lyon France, and she carefully studies and traces the pattern of each piece in her collection. Her patterns are tested by creating stunning replicas (like the one above), and she sells both the antique patterns (if you’d like to make your own corset) and often her sample/ replica corsets on Etsy. Send her a PM if you’re interested in commissioning a corset in your size.

Period Corsets 1905 Mae corset, starts at $280

Period Corsets is aptly named, as the business takes traditional patterns to make modern corsets in their studio in WA, USA. Their 1905 “Mae” corset nicely shows what the S-curve looked like on a human being without the bust pads or theatrical exaggerated posing by the Gibson models.

Skeletons in the Closet made-to-measure Edwardian corset in dupioni silk, $745

Skeletons in the Closet is the business name of a skilled corsetiere in the Netherlands. Sanni creates several different styles of Edwardian corsets (there was more than one corset during that era, after all!). You can find both made-to-measure pieces and heavily discounted samples in her Etsy store.

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Morua Designs Edwardian demibust, from £475

Morua Designs creates breathtaking combinations of traditional and contemporary corsetry, such as the S-curve demibust shown above, modelled on an Edwardian mannequin to show proper form. Created with a true S-curve pattern, Gerry then embellished this particular piece with tulle, lace and crystals for a soft and ethereal finish. Her Edwardian S-curve corsets start at £475, or about $775.

Bizarre Design ‘S-line’ overbust corset

Bizarre Design is the business owned by renowned corset maker Jeroen van der Klis, who has created works for Cathie Jung in the past. His business is also located in the Netherlands, and although Jeroen is better known for his unique engineering of extreme reduction corsets, he also occasionally makes sweet Edwardian pieces such as the one above. His custom overbust corsets start at €456, or about $615.

corsets_and_more_s-bend

Corsets and More S-line underbust corset, starts at €345

Corsets & More is a one-woman business ran by Doris Müller in Germany. She is proficient in both historical and contemporary corsetry and ensembles, and has a fantastic gallery of longline and S-line corsets. Her underbust S-line pieces start at €345 or about $485.

C&S Constructions historial recreation of an S-bend demibust corset

C&S Constructions has also made S-bend corsets in the past. Although it’s not what the business is usually known for, Stuart can certainly accommodate special requests for many types of historical corsetry.

Riwaa Nerona Art Nouveau historical corset

Riwaa Nerona Art Nouveau historical corset, 9500 CZK

Riwaa Nerona of the Czech Republic offers this beautiful corset called “Art Nouveau”. Made from an 18 panel pattern, this historical recreation demibust has a straight front, large hip gores and creates a dramatic curve in the lumbar area like a true S-curve. This style is 9500 CZK, or about $470 USD.

Melanie Talkington modelling her own historical recreation

Lace Embrace Atelier creates both historical reproductions and modern interpretations of Edwardian S-bend corsets. Lace Embrace was ‘born’ in 1997 and the owner Melanie Talkington has dressed the likes of Cathie Jung, Dita Von Teese and the cast of Sucker Punch. Most of the galleries have unfortunately been removed due to image theft, but you are still able to commission a custom S-bend corset through their custom form (distinct from their modernized RTW Edwardian underbust).

1907 reproduction corset made by Lovesick Corrective Apparel

Lovesick Corsets also accommodates commissions for historical reproduction corsets, like the 1907 S-bend corset seen above. They can be made to your measurements, keeping faithful to the pattern and posture while recreating them in any fashion fabric you desire.

*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company on this list. This is for informational purposes only.

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