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Remembering our Absent Corsetier(e)s

As 2014 draws to a close, I feel that it’s only fitting to look back with respect to the notable corset makers that are sadly no longer active in our community, whether by choice (closing commissions) or by passing on. These wonderful, talented artists will never be forgotten. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list – so if you would like to add anyone, please feel free to comment below.

 

In Memory of those who have Passed On:

 

Iris Norris, 1921 – 2000

2000, April – Iris Norris (The Independent Corsetiere).

Iris lived in London, England, and worked as a seamstress for 38 years (and later on, a model) for Gardner & Son Corsets, Ltd until they closed their doors in 1981. According to Staylace, Iris carried her love of corsetry over such that she continued to take commissions until the beginning of 2000. She passed away in April of that year, at the age of 78. I was not active in the corset community at this time, but felt that it would be respectful to include her as she helped pave the way for other independent corsetieres to succeed. Read tributes to Iris here on Staylace, and also here and here on corsetiere.net.

 

Michael Garrod (1928 – 2003) with Cathie Jung.

2003, July – Michael Garrod (True Grace Corset Company).

Michael Garrod started his business in 1982 and ingeniously incorporated some of his knowledge in glider aircraft engineering into his corsets to create incredibly sturdy and smooth pieces. It is said that he passed away peacefully in 2003 at the age of 75 after a long battle with cancer. Both Ann Grogan and Velda Lauder dedicated their books in his memory. See tributes by both Romantasy (another), and Staylace.

 

Constance Trench-Brown (right) with husband and partner Stuart, and friend Karen on the left.

2008, October – Constance Trench-Brown (C&S Constructions).

Constance made 50% of the C&S Constructions company, along with her Business and Life partner Stuart. According to Staylace, the couple started making corsets in 1988 and went into business in 1995, specializing in pipestem silhouette corsets. Constance was said to have persevered and continued passionately sewing corsets even as her health was on-and-off in her last few years, but sadly she passed in 2008. Stuart has kept the name of the company and continues creating corsets even today. Read a memoriam on Constance here, and visit C&S Constructions website here.

 

Amy Crowder, 1971 – 2010

2010, May – Amy Crowder (Wasp Creations).

Amy had 25 years of corset-making experience and had been a dedicated tightlacer since 1991. In this video you can see her revolutionary corsets as she demonstrates the zip-closure and effortless lacing system – Amy had a very loyal following and many believed that she would transform modern corsetry as we know it. Amy passed away in May of 2010, at the age of 39 – I was relatively new in the online corset community at this time, and was very saddened to hear of her passing. According to one source who is in touch with Amy’s mother, heart conditions ran in Amy’s family. Read Amy’s obituary here.

 

Ruth Johnson (1932 – 2010) with Ann Grogan.

2010, August – Ruth Johnson (B.R. Creations).

Ruth Johnson worked with several notable educators and pioneers within the corset community as corsets were experiencing their renaissance in the mid 20th century. As early as the 1960s, she worked with Fakir Musafar (the Ol’ Corsetier, Hourglass Company) and she was also a resident corsetiere on Ann Grogan’s Romantasy team from 1990 until her retirement in 2004. She became a source of inspiration for many younger corsetieres and passed away in 2010 at the age of 78. Read about her legacy on Romantasy here and here.

 

Velda Lauder, 1964 – 2003

2013, March – Velda Lauder.

Velda Lauder describes herself perfectly and concisely in her Twitter bio: Corsetiere, designer, author, consultant. She was a popular designer in the UK and around the world, dressing celebrities like Dita Von Teese. In 2010 she published her book, “Corsets: A Modern Guide” – and as Marianne Faulkner said – she was in her professional prime. Velda passed away in her sleep in 2013 while on a trip to Dublin, shortly after her 49th birthday. One source proposes that the cause may have been food poisoning or a virus. Read tributes on The Lingerie Addict and Jed Phoenix.

 

Christine Wickham (1992 – 2014), in a corset by Lovely Rats Quality Custom Clothing.

2014, July – Christine Wickham (Ariadne’s Thread).

Christine was a good friend of mine and I was deeply affected when I learned of her passing. She had only been active within the corset community for a few years – but in that short time she became hugely involved, moderating multiple groups and forums, creating and selling corset patterns, operating a graphics company (she did all the design work for my dress-up doll) and creating corsets under the name Ariadne’s Thread. She passed away earlier this year, just short of her 22nd birthday, from a pulmonary embolism thought to be the result of a knee injury during yoga practice. She is still deeply missed by all who knew her. Read memoriams by myself, The Lingerie Addict, Vanyanis, Sidney Eileen and Foundations Revealed.

 

Respecting those who have Retired:

Blue overbust with black lace by Creations l’Escarpolette

2008 – Creations l’Escarpolette.

The story of Joyce, the corsetiere behind Creations l’Escarpolette, is an unfortunate one. She had amazing talent and skill when it came to creating corsets, and particularly within the LiveJournal community her popularity exploded in the early 2000s. She was ahead of her years in construction and embellishment, and clients were willing to wait years for the opportunity to own a piece from Joyce. It’s said that between 2006 – 2008 she became overwhelmed with the volume of orders, and disappeared from the online community as more clients came forward with stories of not receiving their orders (1, 2). Perhaps this is a curse of reaching success too quickly. I feel that she still had so much to give, and perhaps tried to make too many people happy at once. The website and journal of Creations l’Escarpolette are still available here.

 

Lucy (me!) in the Abigail II underbust by SugarKitty Corsets

2013 – SugarKitty Corsets.

At the end of 2013, SugarKitty Corsets announced that after 11 years of making corsets, they were retiring from corsetry indefinitely. The owner Shannon still operates under SugarKitty Couture and offers burlesque-related accessories like pasties and knickers through her Etsy shop. I’m very fortunate to have been able to purchase and review one of her pieces, and still hope against hope that perhaps one day she’ll take commissions again! See SugarKitty’s website here.

 

Cathie Jung modelling an underbust by J.C. Creations.

2014 – J.C. Creations.

On November 1 2014, J.C. Creations shut their doors. J.C. Creations proved their expertise in corsetry through creating lovely corsets for the likes of Cathie Jung, Guinness World Record holder for the smallest waist on a living person. I was only able to study one of their men’s corsets – and I wish I had more time to learn more about their history and accomplishments, but I’m still grateful for the opportunity to share what I knew about them through the generosity of EgapTesroc. May J.C. Creations enjoy their retirement, knowing that they will be welcomed with open arms if they should ever decide to return.

 

To all those on this list: your work was well-loved, and you yourselves will be missed. Thank you for your contribution to our community, no matter how large or small.

Would you add anyone else to this list? If so, who?

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Where to buy Extreme Hourglass and Pipestem 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.

According to the older generation of corset enthusiasts, the modern hourglass has a rounded ribcage and rounded hips.
According to the older generation of corset enthusiasts, the modern hourglass has a rounded ribcage and rounded hips.

The extreme hourglass silhouette can be effectively described as the “belted pillow” look. I should note that different schools of corsetry have different interpretations of silhouettes; for instance Romantasy calls this style the “wasp” while I had initially been taught that the wasp waist featured a more conical torso (a guide for conical corsets will be created later on). The extreme hourglass silhouette is less popular than it used to be, but I still personally find it to be very comfortable. The waist nips in very suddenly and dramatically, while the ribcage remains relatively rounded and free to expand with each breath. I can achieve quite extreme reductions using this silhouette, even if the wasp is aesthetically my favourite. If this is your desired silhouette, the following makers and purveyors will be able to assist you – and some even offer the extremely rare pipestem silhouette!

Corset makers: If you have made any extreme hourglass or pipestem corsets and you would like to be added to the gallery, you’re welcome to email me with your pictures here. Safe for Work photos are preferred! Thank you!

Orchid Corsetry Sloth training underbust

Bethan, skilled corsetiere and owner of Orchid Corsetry, offers the Sloth training underbust which gently cups the ribcage and then dramatically dips inward at the waist. This corset is strong enough to be used in 23/7 waist training, and can be purchased on its own or in a waist training kit.

Pop Antique Vamp overbust corset, starts at $249
Pop Antique Vamp overbust corset, starts at $249 (Model: Victoria Dagger)

Marianne, the proprietor of Pop Antique, has many years experience as both a corsetiere and a professional model. After learning that her own ribcage is very unmovable and that conical ribcages bruise her, she drafted all her own corsets to cup the ribs, which has become a bit of a trademark. By default, all Pop Antique designs feature a distinctive rounded ribcage and abruptly nipped waist.

Myself in a custom Sugarkitty Abigail II underbust, starts at $377

Sugarkitty Corsets is able to accommodate silhouettes and styles of all kinds, including this dramatic almost-pipestem rendition of the Abigail II underbust corset (starts at $377). Speaking from experience, it is very easy to take large breaths in this corset. Please note that Sugarkitty will only be accepting corset commissions up till the end of 2013.

The Bad Button waist training corset with a well rounded, contoured ribcage

The Bad Button Bespoke Corsets makes hardy waist training corsets as well as couture designer pieces; Alisha the corsetiere will create the corset with as much or as little rib contouring as you need or desire. The above example shows a very rounded ribcage and dramatically nipped in waistline.

Salonkiompelimo HiroNIA curvy underbust (model: LouLou D’Vil)

Salonkiompelimo HiroNIA is a corset maker from Finland who is capable of creating a magical fit, no matter what your preference in silhouette. Some of their clients can achieve a 17″ waist in this silhouette  – here is one of their creations is modelled by burlesque artist LouLou D’Vil, who easily wears this style corset while modelling/ performing.

Neon Duchess silk dupioni overbust. Model: Victoria Dagger

Neon Duchess (bespoke corsetry by Hannah Light) had created this incredible corset for the Oxford Conference of Corsetry in summer of 2013. This particular overbust is just one layer of a 3-corset ensemble. Each corset could be worn on its own, or mixed and matched, layered on top of one another. Hannah describes this corset has having “shell pink silk dupion with bronzed leather and bronze leaf detail to the bust and hips. The dramatic shape is achieved by cupping the ribs and hip with reduction at the waist only.”

Delicate Facade Corsetry custom tightlacing underbust, starts at $460

Delicate Facade Corsetry is an Australia-based business with 13 years experience. In the above photo, you can see an extremely curvy underbust tightlacing corset, which is designed to give an amazing 12-inch reduction from the client’s natural corseted waist.

This corset has coutil strength layer, a smooth floating liner, waist tape, and carefully dispersed bones.
Myself in a Puimond PY09 Curvy Underbust, $410

Puimond Progressive Corset Design believes in maintaining an anatomical shape around the ribcage, and for extreme reductions he is able to easily nip in the waist an extra couple of inches while leaving a beautiful softly rounded ribcage. The effect is not quite as dramatic as others, but you can see the soft convex curves around the ribcage here. He offers several styles of corsets starting at $330, which can be made suitable for daily waist training. My review of this corset can be seen here.

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KookyC/ Creative Corsets hourglass corset

Helen (the owner of KookyC / Creative Corsets) couldn’t have said it any better – along with this photo, she described the extreme hourglass shape as being a more comfortable especially for those with rigid, unmovable ribs (see the note under Pop Antique’s photo as well). “I’ve always liked this look,” she said, “and it achieves such extreme curves with far less reduction.”

Sparklewren continuously-boned overbust (Model: Immodesty Blaize)

Another maker of corsets with anatomically-shaped ribcages is Sparklewren. The corset above is modelled by Immodesty Blaize. I have owned 4 corsets from Sparklewren, and from personal experience I can say that my own overbust very easily and gently cups around my ribs, only compressing the last two or so for a subtle dip in the waist. The continuous steel boning adds to the structure.

Romantasy wasp waist underbust made by Sheri Jurnecka

Romantasy offers a beautifully shaped underbust with a nipped-in waist (this is their definition of the wasp waist) placing most of the reduction at the waist and very little on the ribcage. All of their wasp corsets are made by the talented Sheri Jurnecka.

Mr. Pearl in one of his own spot broche corsets

Mr. Pearl seems to be the Grandaddy of the modern extreme waist, having trained himself down to 18″ while keeping his ribcage relatively anatomical. Although it’s said that he does take corset commissions, legend has it that Mr. Pearl eschews the internet and communicates by written letter, and only takes in-person fittings.

Gabriel Moginot modelling his own corset

Mr. Pearl’s only well-known protégé, Gabriel Moginot, has launched his line Maison Moginot and offers the ready-to-wear Fierce corset for €580, with an option to upgrade to made-to-measure. His design puts little stress the ribcage, and offers a pipestem-like silhouette.

C&S Constructions pipestem underbust corset
C&S Constructions pipestem underbust corset, modelled by Sabine

C&S Constructions is the master of the extreme hourglass and the pipestem corset, keeping a long list of loyal customers over the decades. The photo above is not even the most extreme pipestem they have made for a client. C&S has made nearly all the corsets worn by the legendary Spook, who is said to have had a 14″ waist in diameter with a 2″ pipestem.

Corsets and More pipestem underbust, starts at €275

Corsets and More from Germany is a hugely under-appreciated gem among corsetieres, who is capable of creating corsets with extreme reductions and fascinating pipestems, like the above piece in acid green dupioni.

My own handmade curvy underbust for B.P.

Finally, although I’m not currently taking commissions, here is an extreme hourglass creation of my own, made in March 2012 for a friend and client across the continent. Drafting for a rounded ribcage was more easy than I originally thought; but getting the roundness in the right panels so as not to create pressure points or gaping in the ribs was an interesting venture. I still use this corset pattern today, as B.P.’s measurements are already close to my own. You can see the sports mesh corset I made from this pattern here.

*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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Sugarkitty Corsets Abigail II Custom Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Sugarkitty Abigail II Underbust Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This corset is made-to-measure so highly customized; therefore the hard numbers are moot. Dramatic, very nipped-in modern hourglass silhouette. I can lace down smaller and more comfortably in corsets with this type of silhouette, as it doesn’t compress my ribs.
Material 5 layers (if you count the fusible webbing). Outside and inside are both black twill and there is also a strength layer between them (interlining).
Construction 5 panel pattern; panels assembled using the sandwich method (lock-stitched and very sturdy), and double-boned on the seams, sandwiched between two layers. Sugarkitty mentions that she no longer uses the sandwich method but more recently uses a more sturdy construction.
Binding Hand-made bias strips matching in black twill, machine stitched on the outside and inside.
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape – sandwiched between the layers.
Modesty panel Boned and suspended panel in the back, and panel is contoured in an hourglass shape (very comfy). Also has modesty placket under knob side of busk.
Busk 10″ long standard flexible busk, with 5 loops/ pins set equidistantly. 1/2″ wide, but reinforced with other flat bones on either side.
Boning 24 bones total, 12 on each side (not including the busk). This corset has an upgrade of 1/2″ spiral bones (instead of traditional 1/4″ bones), double-boned on the seams – there is hardly any “unboned” space around the waist.
Grommets 32 two-part grommets, size #00, fairly large flange, quite sturdy. Black finish. Set closer at the waistline for easier cinching. Large washers on the underside, virtually no splits in the back, no catching.
Laces Very long, super strong polypropylene laces (another upgrade from Sugarkitty). No stretch, virtually impossible to break, holds knots and bows well.
Price At the time I reviewed this piece, the standard size Abigail II was $377, and custom fit was $481.

Other Thoughts:

Sugarkitty Corset as it appears on her Facebook Fanpage.

 

This corset was sold to me 2nd hand from a friend with very similar measurements (she’s just a touch shorter in the torso compared to me). It has such an awesome silhouette that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add it to my collection. Because the corset was made to fit her specifically, and also drafted to have this specific shape with the rounded ribcage and nipped-in waistline, the measurements of this corset are a tad moot – although I will say that the “free” rounded ribcage area makes this corset extraordinarily comfy! I lovingly call this my “almost-pipestem” corset.

Because this corset was made around early 2012, it was around 1.5 years old by the time I reviewed it so Sugarkitty had changed some of her construction techniques between now and then. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to review any of her more modern pieces anytime soon as she has retired from making corsets (at least for the time being) in favour of other artistic ventures. I personally know that I will be keeping this unique piece in my collection though, and will be waiting in line for a custom piece of my own should she ever decide to resume taking corset commissions!

If you would like to see what Sugarkitty is up to these days and to buy some of her samples and accessories, be sure to check out her website here.

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Where to buy waist cincher corsets for under $200

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.

Please note that this article may be outdated! To be sure that you are getting the most up-to-date selection, see the permanent page for curvy cinchers and waspies under $200.

Waist cinchers are short corsets, usually cut high over the hip and in some cases stop a couple inches below the underbust line. I usually measure cinchers by the height of the side seam – if it’s 8″ or less on the side, it may fall into the “cincher” range, and most cinchers are 6-7″ high (although I have seen cinchers or ‘waspies’ as short as 4″ on the side!).

Those with shorter waists (or who are short of stature) may wear a cincher and have it fit like a full-length corset, so petite women can save money on waist training by purchasing a made-to-measure cincher, so it fits her body perfectly. A cincher can also accentuate outfits as a wide belt on those with longer waists. There is one caveat though; many companies don’t make cinchers in larger sizes as they don’t provide any support for soft and low-hanging tummies. The following corsetieres and businesses deliver curves in a teeny package.

Orchard Corset CS-301, starts at $65

Orchard Corset has taken the OTR corset industry by storm due to their curviness and affordability. Their CS-301 waspie (mini-corset) has a front length of 8″ and a size length of 7″ and is offered in sizes 16″ up to 46″ (they recommend natural waists up to 54″). Be sure to use the code CORSETLUCY to save 10% off any purchase for an even better deal.

Isabella Corsetry Octopus classic cincher, $180

Isabella Corsetry offers incredibly curvy ready-to-wear cinchers made in the USA. She offers novelty prints, like the Octopus Classic Cincher above, or more conventional designs like floral and pinstripe in sizes up to 36″ (for waists up to 41″). Isabella holds constant sales where you can sometimes catch cinchers for as low as $95.

Aranea Black made-to-measure waspie cincher, $150

Aranea Black is a one-woman corset company in Croatia whose creations are underrated. She offers this curvy made-to-measure waspie/ cincher for only $150 on Etsy, made with closed front and your choice of coutil, spot broche or floral broche.

SnowBlack Corsets made-to-measure raw silk cincher, $170

SnowBlack Corsets is another underrated corsetiere, although Marta’s designs have been featured many times in Polish alt fashion magazines. She offers custom-fit cinchers with a maximum side length of 18cm (7″), finished in raw silk for only $170.

Morgana Femme Couture MF1329 cincher, £95

Morgana Femme Couture makes a beautiful and simple made-to-order silk dupion cincher for £95 (about $150). It’s only 6″ on the side seam and is offered in 19 different colours of silk. The only caveat is that they’re only offered in sizes 18-24 (they recommend up to 28″ waist).

Meschantes Corsetry Mischief waist cincher, $160

Meschantes Corsetry offers two shorter-style corsets, both made-to-measure: the Mischief corset (shown above) or the Etoile corset which is more pointed. These corsets start at $160, but if you check their Etsy shop, they often have ready-to-wear Etoile cinchers for as low as $99.

Sugarkitty Corsets Waspie, $164.

Sugarkitty Corsets offers the tiniest waist cincher I’ve ever seen. The front and back of the corset are around 7″ high, and the side seams are incredibly short (likely 4-5 inches). It’s still made curvy to nip in the waist and is offered in standard sizes up to 32″ (natural waists up to 36″). Please note that Sugarkitty is only offering custom corsets up till the end of 2013.

Heavenly Corsets Bébé cincher, £120

Heavenly Corsets‘ newest addition is the Bébé corset, which is less than 7″ high. For £120 (about $190) it is made-to-measure, and Elle guarantees that it will hold up to even 23/7 tightlacing/ waist training. Elle recommends a maximum natural waist of 32″ for this corset.

If you can stretch your budget a bit more…

Pop Antique Bombshell buskless waspie, $205

Pop Antique‘s Bombshell waspie is so close to $200 that it may as well be up in the other section! Marianne’s super curvy and fun waspie for $205 is standard-sized but will fit most figures like it was made-to-measure. It’s sure to liven any outfit, and can be upgraded with a front closure for $50.

Madame Sher mesh ribbon-style cincher, $220
Madame Sher mesh ribbon-style cincher, $220

Madame Sher offers this breezy mesh cincher for a cool $220. This custom-fit cincher is perfect for summer days and hot climates, and with a side seam of a bit over 8″, it should fit most body types. As Madame Sher’s corsets are made-to-measure, the range of sizes is unknown.

What Katie Did Baby corset, £130

Where would we be without WKD? I wouldn’t feel right not mentioning What Katie Did‘s Baby corset, even though it’s a little over the $200 budget. At only 7″ high and boasting at least 10″ hip spring, this is the curviest of OTR cinchers (it’s patterned from their famous Morticia underbust!). It’s made up to size 34″ (may fit natural waists up to ~40″).

*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.