Corset Review: Sparklewren Lace Appliqué Sheer Cincher
I'm a little addicted to corsets. It's not enough that I make my own, I feel compelled to collect some of the gorgeous work created by my colleagues. In my collection, I have several Sparklewren corsets. A Sparklewren corset is an art piece as much as a garment and I admit some of them I treasure purely for their aesthetic value – they've rarely seen wear. The notable exception is my Sparklewren cincher, a sample piece I picked up in a Sparklewren sale a while ago.
This tiny waspie originally drew my eye with its beautifully multi-tonal pink appliqué over a sheer burgundy base. In person, the detailing reveals its intricacies. Black nylon corsetry mesh forms the base, with a layer of burgundy tulle lending it some color. An asymmetric, vivid fuchsia lace applique has been hand-stitched on top of that, with gorgeous coral rhinestones sprinkled on and around it. Lastly, a black lace appliqué entwines the layers of pink, adding depth to both lace and rhinestones. These layered variegated tones are so beautiful that I still enjoy just looking at this corset like one would study a painting.
Over the nylon mesh body, the center back panel, external bone casings, and binding are of a simple black herringbone coutil. However, the bone casings are luxuriously lined in black velveteen – one of my favorite details. The lace appliqué wraps around the top binding a bit, and on the interior you can see the outline of the lace shapes visibly (though very neatly) hand stitched. There is no boning at the center front but instead two slightly angled flat bones offset from the center line. Spiral bones fill the channels through the rest of the corset until the center back, where six delicate bronze grommets are framed by flats. Though the flats are fairly stiff (as English flat bones tend to be, in my experience), all of them have curved slightly through my repeated wears. Sparklewren uses shoelace style cotton laces; personally, I tend to prefer ribbon because of the way it glides through the grommets. The waist is unreinforced by a waist tape, but the nylon mesh is very strong and stable on its own, and a tape would ruin the aesthetic lines of this piece.
I've always loved short corsets for their wearability. This cincher has a soft sweetheart shape (a motif that's been evident since some of Sparklewren's earliest work) and is very short at the sides and center back. The back has a bit of sweetheart shaping as well, so the top edge undulates gracefully up and down, creating a bit more support. Sparklewren specializes in one-of-a-kind bespoke corsetry, but as a sample, this corset was made to a ready-to-wear (or RTW-ish) pattern. It has a nice sharp hip spring and a 22" closed waist. Despite its small size, its shaping is spread through 11 panels (the center front is closed). The most noticeable fit quirk is that the ribs are very straight up from the waist. Sparklewren generally designs for a more narrow and conical rib so I wasn't surprised by this shape. It works on the body mostly because the sides are so short, but I also tend to wear it with very blousey styles so that I don't have to worry about a smooth line. It's still very shapely and comfortable.
The cut and colors of this cincher make it really versatile to style. It is both ornate and delicate. I love that I can pair it with a silky boudoir look or a California cowgirl ensemble. Of course, it helps that I have a lot of pink clothing, but the mixture of fuchsia and coral means it pairs well with both purple- and orange-tinted pinks. The black and burgundy base means it would look equally good with richer colors, like jewel-toned purples and blues. As I mentioned above, the narrow rib makes it better suited to loose, blousey styles than bodycon cuts, but the velvet lined casings would make for a luxurious negligee style against bare skin.
If you have an opportunity to pick up a Sparklewren sample, I highly recommend it. Each piece she makes is unique and her style is constantly evolving. Don't forget she's running her Winter Sale now – this is a great opportunity to try out her work. Of course, better yet would be to commission a bespoke Sparklewren. In the corset community, her extravagant aesthetic has her considered by many to be the next best thing to a Mister Pearl corset. The Sparklewren brand is so distinctive because of Jenni Hampshire's unflinching authenticity – it seems the compass for her brand always points due north, and the journey is breathtaking.