Posted on 10 Comments

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

L’Atelier de LaFleur Longline Underbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “L’Atelier de LaFleur Underbust Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length My corset has a standard size 24″ base (ribcage 30″, hips 32-34″), but had been semi-customized. I asked for more length from waist to ribcage, a high-back, and for the waist to be nipped in another inch. Modern hourglass silhouette.
Material 3 main layers. Fashion fabric is silk Chinese brocade, strength fabric of herringbone coutil, floating lining of special cooling cotton fabric.
Construction Probably 5-panel pattern, fashion fabric flatlined to coutil, external boning channels (some on the seams, some in the middle of the panel), and floating liner.
Binding Hand-made bias strips of complementary pink satin, machine stitched on the outside and hand-finished inside for a couture finish.
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape – sandwiched between the layers.
Modesty panel No back lacing protector because I didn’t order one – but one can be ordered if desired. The front has a boned underbusk/ placket which helps keep the front flat.
Busk 12.5 inches long and standard width (0.5 inch wide) matte-black busk with 6 loops/pins, with the two lowest ones closer together.
Boning 24 bones total. On each side there are 9 spirals in external channels; the remainder are flats by the grommets or supporting the busk.
Grommets 34 two-part grommets (because of the very high back), size #00, medium flange, quite sturdy. Black finish. Equidistantly spaced, few splits but don’t catch on the laces. The laces themselves are a great nylon flat shoelace that is grippy like cotton.
Flossing Mina’s unique design on the bottom of the external boning channels, almost reminds me of a T4 bacteriophage – very cool!
Price At the time I’m writing this, it would cost $375 for a standard size longline corset, and a recreation of my own corset would be $565 CAD.
My first wearing of the completed corset, in Mina’s studio in Toronto.

It’s no secret that this corset has become one of my instant favourites in my collection. Mina’s work is absolutely pristine, and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to be personally fitted by her (and to have my own measurements match her standard measurements so closely!). It’s difficult not to wax poetic about this corset; not a stitch is out of place. I can see myself ordering from her again a few years down the line.

Despite the rather thin flexible busk I provided (only because I wanted all matte black hardware), Mina had supported it enough with bones on either side and also a heavy boned underbusk (modesty placket) so that the profile remains beautifully straight and flat. The bones are dispersed around the waist such that there is no more than 1 inch around the waist that is unsupported, which leads to a very sturdy and comfortable wearing experience. The high back is wonderful for my posture and the extra length in the ribcage helps prevent me from slouching like few other corsets are able to do.

If anyone would like a breakdown for the cost of my corset:
Longline underbust $375
High back modification: $10
Single external bone casings instead of double $25
Brocade fashion fabric $15
Contrast casings/trim (the pink against the brocade) $15
Bone flossing on bottom edge, and floating lining $125
Total $565

However, I’m not hyperbolizing when I say that this corset is worth every penny. The entire experience, from meeting with the designer, consulting, fitting and receiving the final product, has been nothing but a joy. If you would like to see more work by L’Atelier de LaFleur, you can visit Mina’s website here.

Posted on 5 Comments

Where to buy Overbust Corsets – Full Bust Edition

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.

Most off-the-rack corsets cater only to relatively small-busted corseters, and it can be difficult to find a standard corset that fits D+ cups.* If your bust size is over about an F cup then it is almost impossible to find a standard sized corset to lift, support and cover your bust appropriately. The ideal overbust corset (in my opinion) should fully encompass the breast tissue and prevent you from spilling over or popping out of the corset. It should also give your bust a moderate lift, but not flatten the breasts like pancakes and not push up the breasts so high that it creates a chin rest.

It’s almost guaranteed that you will need to find a custom overbust to cover and flatter your bust, and not every corsetiere is experienced in fitting overbusts for top-heavy women. A well-fitted overbust can be quite healthy for women with large or heavy breasts, as it takes considerable pressure off the neck, shoulders and upper back by supporting the bust from below, as opposed to having shoulder straps from bras cutting into the flesh. Some medical professionals have recommended overbust corsets as part of treatment/ prevention of thoracic outlet syndrome and torn scalene muscles from heavy breasts.

While it’s the best situation to have a corsetiere give you an in-person mockup fitting (or several) to ensure the best outcome possible, not everyone has a corsetiere living closeby. (To check if you have any corsetieres in your vicinity, see my Corsetiere Map.) The next best thing is to find a corsetiere online who is experienced at fitting large busts. The following is a non-exhaustive list of corsetieres that I’ve found to give beautiful bust shaping for larger cup sizes in conventional (non-cupped) overbusts. If you’re interested in cupped overbusts, I have a separate gallery here.

What Katie Did Storm overbust, £180

There is only one OTR corset I have tested that’s suitable for larger cup sizes: What Katie Did keeps the Storm overbust in stock in black satin. Drafted specifically for cup sizes D-F, it is the only OTR conventional corset I’ve personally tried that didn’t flatten my bust and made me feel safe against any “boobling out”. In addition to the Storm overbust, WKD can also make their Laurie and Sophia corsets to suit larger cup sizes, with a 4-week turnaround.

Eikhell Edwardian overbust "1901", €420 for made-to-measure
Eikhell Edwardian overbust “1901”, €420 for made-to-measure

Eikhell wrote the manual on supporting large busts – literally! Isabelle, the corsetiere behind Eikhell, has written a two-part instructional article on Foundations Revealed, showing other corsetieres how to fit and support heavy busts with overbust corsets. The first article is available to read for free – the 1901 overbust however, is €420 (about $570) for a custom fit.

jupiter_moon_3_overbust
Jupiter Moon 3 custom overbust (modelled by Beth), starts at $200

Jupiter Moon 3 is incredibly talented at making corsets for all shapes and sizes, and she does not shy away from ample-busted clientele. Jennifer has said that the overbust corset shown above in 2011 was the most custom overbust she has ever made, and she’s won the respect of top-heavy women everywhere. Her bare-bones made-to-measure overbust corsets start at $200 and she offers a huge number of upgrades and further customization in styles.

Angela Friedman overbust, $555 for semi-custom

New York designer Angela Friedman makes magic with her beautifully supportive overbusts for the fuller-busted. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then you can see that the many panels running down the front of  her custom-fit corsets work to create a superbly smooth, highly-customized overbust with a round bust shape – no excessive push-up, no flattening of the bust and no tissue spillover.

Bespoke Victorian lattice demibust recreation by L’Atelier de LaFleur (modelled by Mina herself), starts at $500

Certainly not your typical plain overbust: Mina LaFleur made waves with this historical recreation of a traditional Victorian overbust. Historical overbusts are not usually overbusts in the sense that we think of them; they’re actually closer to demibust (half-covering the breast) with a chemise worn underneath to cover the rest of the chest. Mina slightly altered the pattern to curve a little more over the breast and prevent flattening or spillage. As a large-busted corset-wearer herself, she understands the need for a comfortable and flattering overbust. Her bespoke overbusts start at just $500 including toile fitting.

Crikey Aphrodite “Hera” gored overbust corset, starts at £350 (Photo: Louise Cantwell, Model: Francesca Dunn)

What’s not to love about this Hera overbust by Crikey Aphrodite? Alison, the owner of Crikey Aphrodite, has worked as a professional bra-fitter for years – knowledge that she’s expertly incorporated into her characteristic gored overbust corsets made especially for fuller busts, creating a superb lifted and rounded bust area. This overbust starts at £350 which includes a toile fitting.

Totally Waisted! robin's egg overbust from 2011
Totally Waisted! Robin’s egg overbust

This robin’s egg blue overbust from Totally Waisted! Corsetry is an exquisitely shaped piece from early 2011. The curve around the bust combined with the external boning channels and delicate flossing makes for a soft, feminine piece that still effectively shapes and controls curves. Kate is knowledgeable in fitting both fuller busts and smaller busts, and she takes commissions for custom overbusts through Etsy.

Purple patent leather overbust by Atelier Sylphe Corsets
Purple patent leather overbust by Atelier Sylphe Corsets

This avant-garde purple overbust was created by Joëlle at Atelier Sylphe Corsets for Alina, the lead singer of Markize. It’s designed for a fuller cup size and wider hip spring and features a plunge neckline while still keeping the bust fully covered. The majority of the corsets sold through Atelier Sylphe are special one-off samples, but do contact Joëlle directly if you’re interested in a custom commission.

Corsets & More custom overbust corset, starts at €340
Corsets & More custom overbust corset, starts at €340

Whatever your shape, size, corseting experience, age or gender, Doris Müller will create a corset to shape and flatter – large busts are no challenge to her. To be truthful, I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without knowing about Corsets and More, as Doris excels in nearly every style of corset. The overbust featured above combines a modest sweetheart bustline that effectively covers the entire cup, while still accentuating a tiny waist and impressive hipspring – and beautifully mirror-matching the stripes to create perfect chevrons down the center front.

Electra Designs
Electra Designs overbust modelled by Bride Stephanie

More stripes! Electra Designs is also accomplished in making sweetheart overbust corsets that lifts the bust to a natural level, with cups that round over the breast to keep the bust in place while looking both attractive yet tasteful. With a custom corset, the bustline can be raised to show almost no cleavage, or lowered to expose more of the décolletage while still feeling safe and secure in your corset.

Other corsetieres who can accommodate full-busted clients include:

*Please note that D+ cups are generally regarded as “fuller” cup sizes, but whether an individual can fit into a standard overbust corset obviously depends on the band size. I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company featured in my Guided Galleries. This is for informational purposes only. Please visit your doctor if you would like to start corseting for any reason, and especially if you are searching for an overbust for medical purposes.

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you would also like the Guide for Cupped Overbust Corsets.