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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draws to a close, I feel that it’s only fitting to look back with respect to the notable corset makers that are sadly no longer active in our community, whether by choice (closing commissions) or by passing on.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 Sheer/Mesh Summer 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.

Tulle corset, 1875. From Thierry de Maigret

The first time I saw a mesh corset, it triggered a long-term obsession. What a wonderful idea! Conventional corsets can be hot and sweaty during summertime or in warmer climates. The oldest tulle corset I’ve seen is estimated to be from 1875 (featured left) and throughout the 1890’s it seems that linen mesh became more popular for corsetry, so the idea is not new! Fast forward to today; there has been a huge resurgence of summer corsetry, and they’re as strong as ever with the creation of new fibers and creative engineering. Mesh and net corsets are made with all different types of materials: cross-stitch canvas, linen mesh, Aida cloth, nylon mesh, polyester tulle, horsehair, and lace itself. In this article I’ll highlight some corsetieres and brands that offer modern mesh corsets.

*Please note that MANY corsetieres now create summer mesh corsets, and if I were to add them all, this post would be maddeningly long. Corsetieres, if your mesh corset does not appear in this list and you have one to submit, please send me an email here.
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Daily-Wear Summer Corsets

Madame Sher nude mesh underbust, $300

Brazil-based Madame Sher has a collection of simple and beautiful mesh corsets in her Tight Comfort section, ranging from $220 – $300 for a custom-fit design. They’re made with cotton mesh and cotton twill in various neutral shades. See my review of the Madame Sher black mesh cincher here.

Ferrer Corsets summer mesh tightlacing underbust, starts at R$ 300

Ferrer Corsets is also a Brazilian corset maker – and it seems that tropical Brazil is taking the summer corset industry by storm as they understand the need to feel cool while training in any climate. Ferrer offers a variety of mesh and net corsets in his tight-lacing section, including the corset above which costs only R$ 385 with an included busk and modesty panel.

Delicate Facade Corsetry heavy-duty summer mesh corset, starts at $510

Delicate Facade Corsetry has made this summer corset made with “heavy duty, industrial grade, tightlacing quality mesh”, for a special client who requires a surgery support corset 24/7 after a horrendous accident. DF Corsetry has prettied up this breezy piece with highly decorative latticework. You can learn more about Delicate Facade, and read more about Sasha’s story here.

Contour Corsets gold summer mesh corset, starts at $595

Contour Corsets makes arguably the strongest modern mesh corsets in the world. Fran incorporates space-age materials into her corsets, and the photo above features my personal primary waist training corset, capable of withstanding 23/7 use and cinching my waist over 25%. The synthetic mesh and the construction of the corset are both so strong that the addition of a waist tape would be superfluous. My review of the summer Contour Corset can be found here.

Sophisticated Tulle Corsets:

Contessa Gothique Design Semi-Mesh underbust, starts at $280

Contessa Gothique Design makes semi-mesh corsets with alternating panels of poly netting and cotton coutil – the one shown above is the one I own. The net is soft like tulle, but the double-layer makes for a strong piece. Embellished with lace appliqué and Swarovski crystals, this pretty piece holds up very well to tightlacing and accentuates any summer outfit while still keeping me cool – but if you prefer, the corset can be made more plain as well. See my review of this Contessa Gothique corset here.

V-Couture Nyx tulle and lace overbust, $550

V-couture makes a single-layer tulle overbust called “Nyx”, heavily decorated with beautiful corded lace, beads and sequins. Although it has no waist tape, V-couture ensures that Nyx is capable of giving up to 4 inches reduction.

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Entre-Nous embroidered tulle overbust; Textile design by Jakob Schlaepfer

Entre-Nous introduced embroidered tulle corsets in early 2014, such as this astonishingly gorgeous white piece with delicate pastel floral embroidery. 

Lace Corsets:

Wyte Phantom black lace sheer underbust. Model: October DiVine. Photo: My Boudoir

What happens when you forgo the lace appliqué and just use the uncut lace itself as the panels in a corset? You get a breathtaking sheer effect, as seen in the piece above made by Wyte Phantom.

Totally Waisted sheer waist cincher with Chantilly lace overlay, starts at $199
Totally Waisted sheer waist cincher with Chantilly lace overlay, starts at $199

Totally Waisted! Corsets also featured some limited edition sheer cinchers this year, priced to sell. The strong mesh panels with full Chantilly lace overlay combine with super-strong spot broche to make an enchanting statement piece that can be worn over any outfit, or next to the skin.

Coloured Mesh Corsets:

JL Corsets “Kingfisher” mesh corset, using 3 colours of sport mesh

JL Corsets offers some fun-yet-tough sports mesh corset in any combination of colours – you can order a corset in just one shade, but why not have ALL the colours?!

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Do Balakobako pink mesh and floral print underbust

Do Balakobako Corsets from Brazil makes some of the most beautiful coloured mesh pieces starting from only R$ 250, and her prolific work is very quickly gaining admirers on Facebook! See her photo album of summer corsets here.

Sheer/ Organza Corsetry:

Clessidra Couture sheer plunge overbust

Clessidra Couture is the designer label of Julia Bremble, owner of Sew Curvy Corset Making supplies. Corsetieres around the world trust her for the highest quality corsetry materials, so before selling any new type of fabric, she really puts it to the test! Above is an example made from the (highly coveted) strong yet sleek net fabric sold in limited amounts at Sew Curvy – the first batch was so popular, it sold out in less than an hour!

Angela Stringer Corsetry floral sheer overbust

Angela Stringer Corsetry has a continual theme on floral prints. In the above corset, she combines the sophistication of sheer panels with floral femininity to create a unique piece that’s both playful and smoldering. This is available in both overbust and underbust versions.

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The “Snowy Owl” corset by The Bad Button. Model: Zsu Zsu Starr. Photo: Aesthetic Aperture

The Bad Button Bespoke Corsets, based out of Kentucky, USA, has been hard at work through early 2014 creating her “Birds of Paradise” couture line. One such piece from her collection is the “Snowy Owl” shown above, made of alternating silk covered coutil and sheer crinoline.

Sheer corset girdle by Snowblack Corsets, approximately $200 USD
Sheer corset girdle by Snowblack Corsets, starts at $200
SnowBlack Corsets offers this lovely corset/girdle, made with a single layer of nylon bobbinet, and finished in black raw silk shell and coutil lining. While this corset has a waist tape and sturdy two part grommets, SnowBlack says that it is meant to serve as more of a slimming, supportive girdle and doesn’t recommend a reduction of more than 4″ in this. However, it would be the perfect tool to smooth your figure under a retro dress! This corset also features four garter clips, and two additional hidden garter tabs for additional hold of stockings if desired.
Dark Garden Risqué Sweetheart overbust, starts at $505

The Dark Garden Risqué corset is aptly named. Made from nylon mesh and silk, the Risqué is available as both a cincher and as a sweetheart overbust (above). The website provides fantastic ideas for wear, mentioning that sheer corsetry serves as a great foundation under formal gowns, or can be worn to show off tattoos.

Pop Antique Flirt overbust, starts at $399

Marianne is a well-known corsetiere for Dark Garden, but she also owns her own corsetry line and is a respected designer in her own right: Pop Antique‘s corsets are fun and contemporary, and the Flirt overbust is as coquettish as it gets with its peekaboo panels and little panniers (or “hip fins” as I like to call them).

Sparklewren sheer bridal overbust with cups

Sparklewren also offers some sheer corsetry, from cinchers to full cupped overbust corsets. Natural sheer mesh sees layers upon layers of French lace appliqué in true Sparklewren fashion to create an ethereal one-of-a-kind design.

Velda Lauder mesh and satin underbust corset

Although this corset is no longer available for purchase, I wouldn’t feel right without mentioning Velda Lauder’s sheer underbust, as she designed this years ago before any of the other corsetieres in this section had discovered corset-suitable sheer fabric. Ms Lauder forged a path all her own, and will be fondly remembered for her beautiful designs.

Horsehair corsets:

Bizarre Design sheer halter overbust and matching skirt

Bizarre Design proves that horsehair can shape the torso with extreme efficacy given the correct engineering. This sheer overbust with halter straps is capable of giving extreme reductions even without a waist tape.

Atelier Sylphe polyester horsehair pointed overbust

Atelier Sylphe has created a beautiful sheer pointed overbust from poly horsehair and twill, also giving an impressive silhouette without a waist tape.

Anachronism In Action sheer lattice pointed overbust

Anachronism in Action‘s sheer overbust features horsehair that had been dyed a diaphanous ice-blue hue. The beautiful lattice corset also features hundreds of Swarovski crystals over the bust.

OTR/ RTW Corsets:

What Katie Did sheer Cabaret two-tone Laurie overbust, £209

What Katie Did offers a few mesh styles in the Demi-Couture section of their website. The Cabaret Sophia, Cabaret Laurie and Cabaret Morticia corsets feature panels of a double layer of organza in either soft peach or sultry black, and maintain as curvy a silhouette as ever. See my review of the Cabaret two-tone Laurie here.

True Corset white mesh cincher, $83

For those who want to try a mesh piece immediately, True Corset keeps an affordable standard-sized white mesh cincher in stock for only £55 (or $83). Due to the nature of the mesh and the lack of waist tape, True Corset recommends that buyers order a size smaller than usual as the corset may stretch over time.

Fairy GothMother Short Mesh Underbust, £215

Fairy GothMother also offers a standard-sized mesh cincher for £215, available in black or a relatively rare red mesh. They recommend this for light wear (2-4 inches reduction).

Other corsetieres who have made mesh or sheer corsets:

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

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Velda Lauder Bridal Overbust Corset Study

This post is a summary of the “Velda Lauder Bridal Overbust Corset Study” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

 

Fit, length Center front is 12.5 inches, and the longest part from peak of the bust to the lap is 14.5 inches. It would be more suitable for a short to average length waist. Interesting sweetheart/plunge bustline, which is cut low on the side and back. I consider this on the border of modern slim/Victorian hourglass silhouette.
Material Likely 2 main layers: fashion fabric is pure white satin – the fashion layer is also the strength layer. (seems to be a thick cotton-backed satin or very-well fused piece), inside is a floating liner of a softer off-white satin.
Construction Technically 5 panel pattern (+ one bust gore in the 2nd panel). Panels assembled using a top-stitch, with grosgrain boning channels laid down under the fashion layer. Floating liner hides the work.
Binding + Embellishment Commercial white satin ribbon, with the edges not folded under. There is another ribbon with attached beadwork, stitched down under most of the top and bottom binding.
Waist tape 1.5-inch wide grosgrain tape invisibly secured between the lining and interlining of the corset; extends across all panels.
Modesty panel 7.5 inch wide modesty panel at the back (about 5.5 inches of useable space), unstiffened, attached to one side, made with white satin.
Busk No busk, only one very thick flat steel bone running down the center front of the corset.
Boning 11 total bones. Single boned on the seams, with very wide bones (I believe 1/2″ wide) and only one supporting bone on the very back edge of the grommets. (The grommets aren’t sandwiched.)
Eyelets 20 grommets total, size #0 single-part eyelets with small to moderate flange; set equidistantly. All the eyelets have rolled nicely, but because there it no back/ supporting washer, there is some concern that an eyelet might come out with rigorous lacing of this corset.
Price I’m not completely sure what this corset was worth when it was still being sold, but I estimate that it would be close to £250 in the UK. (I bought mine for close to half that, because it was a shop/ display sample)

Final Thoughts

Velda Lauder was a well-respected corsetiere, designer, author and educator. You may have remembered when I reviewed her book nearly a year ago, which contained some interesting corset history. Ms Lauder passed away unexpectedly in March 2013; you can read the lovely tribute to her on The Lingerie Addict. After her website was pulled down, I thought I had lost the opportunity to own a piece of her design – until I stumbled across a few overbust corsets in Fairy Goth Mother’s clearance section. I was quite surprised that they were sold for about half price, as I thought the corsets’ relative rarity (now that they’re not longer in production)

The same beautiful white duchess satin curved overbust on a stunning model.

would have caused the corsets to appreciate over time. I didn’t want to pass the chance to own a piece of history.

So this video and study is more meant to be a posthumous tribute and respectful study of a part of Velda Lauder history, rather than a “product review” per se. It is still structured like a review however, if you would ever like to compare side-by-side the construction methods of Lauder’s corsets to others and appreciate the similarities and differences.

Although I must admit that this overbust is not really suited to my body type (and it breaks my heart), I still find many aspects of this corset to be lovely – and quite unique! I think this is the first time I have seen a sweetheart corset that is cut so low along the sides and back – but this allows me to maintain a relaxed posture in the corset and elongate my neck, which is a wonderful feeling (I’m used to looking/feeling like a linebacker in overbust corsets). The thick, 1/2″ wide boning under the seams for the corset were also different, as was the presence of only one bone by the eyelets and not the ‘traditional’ two. I’m sure that many people were equally surprised by the construction of this corset, but it shows that corsets can be made in a multitude of ways, and I’m finding more and more often that notable corset designers don’t play by all the “rules” of corset making! This was one of the most fascinating things about studying corsetry.

Rest in peace, Ms Lauder – thank you for leaving behind such a beautiful legacy that can be studied and appreciated for generations to come.