10 Specialty Corsetieres
While it goes without saying that many of us are gift shopping for our friends, family, and general loved ones, it's also a fun time of year to get yourself a little treat. As you accumulate corset-y dreams to take with you into the new year, here's a list of ten specialty corsetieres whom I think exemplify a particular niche. Some of these talented designers (all of them crafting a handmade product) are extremely versatile, but I've selected the categories in which I think they really shine amongst the competition.
Decadently Feminine Couture: Sparklewren
Sparklewren's exquisitely layered embellishments have been an inspiration to contemporary corsetieres since she came onto the scene five years ago. If you're looking for an impeccably impractical one-of-a-kind couture corset, let Sparklewren's imagination run wild and you are sure to delight in the ensuing confection.
Plus Size / Full Figure: Dark Garden
Dark Garden has been an industry leader in the corset niche for 25 years. Originally only making bespoke corsets, their RTW line is based on an average of thousands of custom measurements taken over the years. If your "hourglass runneth over," look no farther than the Valentine. If your budget extends to bespoke, trust Dark Garden to support and enhance your curves with panache. Attention is lavished on the angle of each and every seam so it best fits your body with both grace and comfort.
Full Bust: Crikey Aphrodite
Alison Campbell of Crikey Aphrodite works as an expert bra fitter by day, so it's no wonder she is exceptionally conscious of good bust fit and support in her corsets. She particularly wowed me at this year's Oxford Conference of Corsetry when she created a sample corset for the extremely buxom Evie Wolfe... without a mockup fitting. The support and shaping of the bust fit was truly remarkable! (Especially under the circumstances.)
Historical Fusion: Laurie Tavan (formerly Daze of Laur)
Laurie Tavan has an incredibly unique and fun spin on classic historic silhouettes. Using color blocking and graphic bias stripes, Laurie breathes fresh life into antique-inspired styles, reminding us that not all historic corsets need be simple, undyed, underwear corsets. Like any good corsetmaker, Laurie also has a keen eye for detail and fit.
Transgender: Contour Corsets
Fran Blanche's Contour Corsets have received attention as medical and waist training corsets, but where she really shines is in serving the transgender community. As a transgendered woman, Fran is very conscious of both the personal and the fit concerns trans individuals have regarding corsetry.
Leather: Wilde Hunt
For about as long as I've been making corsets, I've been aware of the exquisite leather work of Wilde Hunte. Though her shaping tends to run to the more mild, it serves as a beautiful foundation to the complex scenes appliqued onto her work.
Burlesque: Flo Foxworthy
While many performers may choose to buy a plain corset from any number of makers and embellish it themselves, why not go to an expert and have a perfect costume created just for you? As a showgirl herself, Flo Foxworthy knows just what you need to maximize your va-va-voom potential under those stage lights.
Eco-Conscious / Organic: Pop Antique
Pop Antique is my line, and though I have a selection of traditional silks and coutil available, I do my best to source organic cotton and hemp and use it wherever possible. My standard strength layer fabric is a strong, smooth, and supple organic cotton canvas, and I have a lovely selection of organic cotton sateen fashion fabrics that are both strong and beautiful in their subtle luminosity.
Opulently Gothic: Royal Black
Royal Black is another continual crowd-pleaser, with their beautiful laser-cut designs, distinctive point of view, and unique detailing. Collection pieces may feature bright colors, metallics, and even pastels, but the result aesthetic is always touched with the essence of a fairy tale evil queen, in the most awesome way possible.
Tightlacing: Bizarre Design
This was arguably the hardest category to choose for, but I simply couldn't create this list without showcasing the amazing work of Bizarre Design by Jeroen van der Klis. Bizarre Design has been making exemplary corsets since the late '80s. The lines of his work showcase a classic fetish aesthetic that's so refined as to continually appeal to the modern-day corset audience.
Who's your favorite specialty corsetiere?