Over the weekend, I had the immense pleasure of attending the third annual Lace Embrace Antique Corset Exhibition and Fashion Show. The exhibit and fashion show is a fundraiser for the corsetiere behind Lace Embrace Atelier, Melanie Talkington. You see, Ms. Talkington is not only an expert corsetiere with a client list that includes names like Dita von Teese and Cathie Jung, she also has the largest private collection of antique corsets in the world, and she's working to open an Antique Corset Museum in Vancouver, BC in 2014. In fact, her collection is so impressive, that she just loaned 40 pieces to The Louvre for an upcoming exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. I adore corsetry, and the opportunity to see some of Ms. Talkington's antique pieces (as well as her amazing modern reproductions!) was one I couldn't pass up, so I hopped a train and crossed the border into Canada.
(All photos below are my own.)
A quick snapshot while getting dressed in the Puimond corset I wore to the event.
Melanie Talkington herself.
The venue was the historic Hycroft Manor, which had amazing rooms, lush grounds, and definitely added to the historical, garden party atmosphere of the event. In addition to the main action of the exhibit and fashion show, there was also a silent auction and a "mini-store" of corset magnets, fans, garters, cupcakes, cookies, British pastys, wine, and coffee. All proceeds, including the price of admission tickets, went to the future corset museum.
An antique hat from the silent auction.
Garters for sale
Models walked the exhibit room in silk kimonos or antique-style underwear combined with Lace Embrace's historically-inspired creations.
And of course, many of the guests looked fantastic as well!
The blogger Dolly Von Sucre
And the antique pieces were, in a word, stunning.
~Violet Silk Satin Corset, circa 1890~ Evening corset of violet silk satin with cotton net lace and ribbon insertion. Marked F.P. Supported with 36 whale bones. 19" waist. American. Caption by M. Talkington. From the M. Talkington Collection. ~Petticoat, circa 1890~ Violet moire with purple and green satin stripes, ruffled and flounced hem. American. Caption by M. Talkington. From the M. Talkington Collection.
~Pink Silk Corset, circa 1898~ PInk silk satin corset with blue bust trimming and ribbon insertion. Marked, BALENA. Supported with 36 whale bones. 22" waist. European. Caption by M. Talkington. From the M. Talkington Collection. ~Petticoat, circa 1895~ Blue silk taffeta with self trimmed ruffles and flounced hem. American. Caption by M. Talkington. From the M. Talkington Collection.
~Bridal Corset, circa 1903~ Cotton eyelet corset with bias seams, bust and hip gussets. Cotton net lace with moire bow. Marked, NOBLESSE. Made in France. Imported by MARSHALL FIELD & CO, Paris-Chicago. 26 whale bones. 24" waist. French. Caption by M. Talkington. From the M. Talkington Collection. ~Petticoat~ Ivory cotton trained bridal petticoat with ribbon insertion. Lace flounce with cotton pleated godets. American. Caption by M. Talkington. From the M. Talkington Collection.
~Dressing Gown, circa 1908~ Blue printed silk satin dressing gown with train. Trimmed with rows of net lace and Irish crochet lace with ribbon roses. American. Caption by M. Talkington. From the M. Talkington Collection.
A closeup of the back of the dressing gown.
A closeup of the front of the dressing gown. (Can you tell this is my favorite piece?)
A closeup of the lace on the dressing gown.
(I couldn't find the caption for this one.)
~Miniature Mannequin with Merry Widow, circa 1958~ 3/4 sized mannequin was used in a French department store to sell fabric and trimmings. She was recently purchased in Paris and is now named Babette. Manufactured by SIEGEL. She models a mauve satin merry sidow with attached garters. Marked, CORSETERIA LAURA Arenal, 14 Jorge Juan 76. Spain. Caption by M. Talkington. From the M. Talkington Collection.
Finally, it was time for the fashion show. The show was held outside and featured outfits inspired by French fashion magazine illustrations. Ms. Talkington described it as her ideal wardrobe to wear while she was in Paris for the opening of The Louvre's fashion exhibit. Everything was hand-sewn (of course!) and based on patterns taken directly from antique corsets, which Ms. Talkington says she did "very, very carefully without destroying or harming the corset in any way." She also revealed that her collection has grown significantly in the last few years as other collectors decide to sell their collections to her. In addition, all the crocheted camisoles shown in the photo below are actual antique camisoles. The show started with a Victorian/Edwardian undergarment dressing sequence which I'll be posting a video of later.
The antique robe used at the beginning of the dressing sequence.
A back view of the same robe.
The completed look at the end of the dressing sequence.
Mesh summer corsets
Adult and child corset. Adult corset is antique reproduction of a French corset. The petticoat is an antique reproduction of a petticoat from the Met Museum and is based on a quilting pattern.
(No information for this look.)
(No information for this look.)
Watered silk corset and petticoat
Watered silk corset and petticoat back view.
Watered silk corset and petticoat combination.
Watered silk corset and petticoat combination back view.
Honeybee Corset. Basket and Bows petticoat. In the color Heliotrope (popular during Edwardian period).
Rear view of Honeybee Corset. Basket and Bows petticoat. In the color Heliotrope (popular during Edwardian period).
Corset and brassiere combination with scalloped hems. Striped silk petticoat. The entire ensemble is meant to evoke the "colors of the garden." Style circa 1909.
1910 style seaside corset.
Back view of 1910 style seaside corset.
A few detail shots:
A detail of the yellow corset and chemise from the antique dressing sequence. These are all authentic vintage undergarments.
A detail of the Heliotrope Basket and Bows petticoat.
Flossing detail on the adult French corset from the adult/child look.
Button detail on the 1910 sailor corset.
And, finally, a group photo of all the Lace Embrace corsets at the exhibit:
I hope you enjoyed looking at these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them! Had you heard of Lace Embrace before? And what do you think of Melanie Talkington's work?
Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.