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Dress Up Day in Corset Paradise

Sparklewren Oxford corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Sparklewren Oxford corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

With the Oxford Conference of Corsetry coming up this weekend, England is flooded with corset makers and enthusiasts. Today I spent the day in Sparklewren's studio, aka Corset Paradise, with Jenni "Wren" Hampshire, Lucy of Lucy's Corsetry, and Lowana of VanyanísInaGlo Photography was also present to shoot a few styles for Vanyanís, and Sparklewren's Jenni Hampshire got behind the camera for several impromptu photoshoots with me as I tried on a slew of Sparklewren samples.

Sparklewren "Lovebird" corset | Photo © Morgan Marcani

Sparklewren "Lovebird" corset | Photo © Morgan Marcani

When I arrived at Corset Paradise, shooting was already underway. Lowana had brought several samples which she was shooting on a model and on herself with InaGlo. Lucy shot her Cranberry Butterfly corset by Sparklewren, as well as a curvaceous sample. My services as "model wrangler" were volunteered for me, so I assisted a bit in posing the ladies as I've so often done at Dark Garden's Corset Boudoir photography evenings.

Sparklewren "Rose Gold" corset | Photo © Morgan Marcani

Sparklewren "Rose Gold" corset | Photo © Morgan Marcani

As Lowana and Lucy shot with Glo, I tried on several Sparklewren samples. Being a variety of sizes and shapes, many of them ended up with hilariously oversize lacing gaps, but the beauty of Sparklewren's detailing was exquisite regardless, and her signature Bird's Wing construction molds around the body in a unique flexible manner. My particular favorite was the Rose Gold corset, in a deep blush satin, which miraculously smoothed my rectangular ribs into a conical shape. I also got a peek at an amazing pearl-encrusted corset body being worked on by Jenni's intern, Alycia, aka Emiah Couture.

Emiah Couture pearl encrusted corset body in progress

Emiah Couture pearl encrusted corset body in progress

Admittedly, we all indulged in some last-minute sewing to prepare for the conference (and will continue to do so tomorrow). Always as an artist, there are far more ideas than there are time, so I ended up with a bag half full of corsets needing only a peplum or binding. Later in the day, I finished the binding on my newest personal corset with a bit of hand sewing, and Jenni got behind the camera to shoot a set of it and also my "Minx" mini-ribbon corset.

Pop Antique custom corset | Photo © Sparklewren

Pop Antique custom corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Sparklewren

Corset Paradise will soon be available to rent as a shoot location, so we had fun testing out the various screens and corners as well as pushing Jenni's lighting rig to its limits. At the end of the night, we shot Sparklewren's Oxford corset, made especially for the conference and inspired by our venue, Jesus College. As a spur-of-the-moment decision, Jenni created pearl eyebrows, which we taped onto my face (first as eyebrows, then, as a parting shot, as a mustache -- naturally).

Sparklewren's pearl eyebrows repurposed into a mustache. | Photo © Sparklewren

Sparklewren's pearl eyebrows repurposed into a mustache. | Photo © Sparklewren

Marianne Faulkner

Marianne Faulkner is the designer of Pop Antique, a clothing and corsetry line specializing in sustainable materials and comfortable curves. She is based in San Francisco where she earned her MFA in fashion design at the Academy of Art University, and has been a columnist at The Lingerie Addict since 2011.

5 Comments on this post

  1. Lowana says:

    It was the best day ever! Thanks for the mention :)
    Also, pearl moustache was The Best XD

  2. Maria says:

    This would be so amazing to attend, so much talent in one spot. For now I will live vicariously through facebook updates from the conference.

  3. Evija says:

    I. Am. Overwhelmed.
    I guess it’s good the conference is before university starts, otherwise, I’m afraid, Oxford would finally explode from all the talent in one place. The first image especially has got me totally wow-ed (if that’s even a word in English!)

  4. Johnny says:

    I would love to live in you wonderland corset world.

  5. Laurie says:

    Looks like a great time!

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