I’m delighted to share with you some exclusive, new photos of a couple of custom corsets I made for a client three years ago. It was only at the start of this year that we managed to pull together a photo shoot with the talented Mark Boyle photographing these fine pieces and it’s only now (after my wedding and other things life threw my way) that I’ve found time to finish editing them and share them with you all!
My client Emmelie was kind enough to model her corsets for me so you get to see them as they were designed to be seen (rather than on someone else). The corsets were made using special fabrics that Emmelie found whilst studying abroad and I am honoured to have been trusted with such sentimental souvenirs. The asymmetric overbust was designed for occasional wear, and was made as a reversible piece as illustrated throughout this post. The three-inch lacing gap was as per my clients request to allow for weight fluctuation, without losing the ability to wear her favourite garment, as well as for aesthetic reasons. As a corsetiere (and perfectionist), I can say that my work over the past three years has definitely surpassed what you will view in this post. However, these pieces shown here are a testament to the history of Vanyanís and are pieces that I’m proud of, even though by my standards today I am a better maker.
Emmelie models her the port wine and gold side of her reversible, asymmetric overbust corset. Photography © Mark Anthony Boyle
I recently received this testimonial from Emmelie, it’s quite lengthy and is almost more of a letter (but very lovely); she shares her experience and insight into the world of my custom corsetry and I’m delighted to be able to share it with you:
Custom corsetry is not just an art – it is also a feat of engineering, and its true success lies in a good designer like Vanyanís who can tailor a garment not only to fit a person’s body perfectly, but also their personality and daily needs. You need more than good design and dressmaking ability to pull it off.
To be honest, I did learn this the hard way. Years of curiosity into the history of women’s fashion, as well as an interest in Goth and other subcultures particularly in my teen years, lead to my trying numerous and varied disappointing off-the-rack corset-tops, those that are merely a singlet top with a bit of criss-cross lace, those with various boning (plastic: terrible) – in short, those “corsets” which I (wrongly) imagined definitely looked good on absolutely everybody else. I started to feel like maybe the problem was me, my shape, my height, my tendency to be plump rather than toned. Wrong. Correction: incredibly wrong.
Instead, the real problem was the lack of attention to my unique shape, custom tailoring, and a person like Lowana with the capability of assessing the project from every angle. The construction of a corset, considering all the tiny details, and keeping track of the bigger picture, takes a special type of care, insight, an understanding of how bodies move, and takes consideration of the person the corset is made for.
Emmelie models the black side or her reversible asymmetric overbust corset.
Photography © Mark Anthony Boyle
For anyone who gets ‘attached’ to their favourite garments as I do, and cannot bear the thought of them becoming worn or – heaven forbid! – unravelling, getting excellent quality clothing is a good idea, and much less wasteful than buying numerous garments, none of which make you happy. (We’ve all had a garment do that to us at one stage, yes? Sitting on public transport and suddenly noticing a seam on our arm is loosening, or worse, a strap of our dress has decided to remove itself from the bodice? Infuriating!) I have learnt that this can be overcome by investing in good wardrobes staples, things that can wash and wear, and by letting myself have select pieces that are truly lavish, and rather cleverly designed. For example, I have two very special Vanyanís corsets. I did not foresee just how much wear I would get from them.
Emmelie wears the Veronica Baroque bracelet with her corset.
Photography © Mark Anthony Boyle
To begin with, they are very special to me because of the fabric they are made from. Yes, I love dragons, but also the silk is Chinese, and I bought both fabrics whilst I was studying in Shanghai. The black silk I bought from a little shop on a street dominated by shops selling musical instruments – as an ethnomusicology student, this appealed to me! I also bought an erhu, sometimes described as a ‘Chinese violin’ by Westerners, with a black dragon carved on the head, but that’s another story. The port wine and gold fabric I bought from a factory during a day trip to Suzhou. These fabrics are mementos of a such a wonderful time in my life, I met so many wonderful people, learnt so much, saw so much, did so much, grew so much as a person… and I wasn’t going to hand my keepsake fabrics over to just anyone. (Tip: fabric is such a travel-friendly souvenir. Eating on a plane during turbulence with an erhu on your lap, however…)
This photo shows off Emmelie’s delightful curves and the reversible modesty panel. The three-inch lacing gap was as per Emmelie’s request for aesthetic and practical reasons (allows for weight loss/gain). Photography © Mark Anthony Boyle
I had the idea to make my port wine overbust corset asymmetrical from a portfolio piece I saw in the Vanyanis collection, but I wanted something completely different to anything Lowana had made before. Without the busk, my overbust corset does take a little longer to slip into, but it also has an ingenious feature: a modesty panel (I like my corsets to have modesty panels so you don’t see my skin under the lacing) that has been devised in such a way that the garment can be fully reversible!! It’s like having two corsets that take the wardrobe space of one corset, for the cost of one corset, and I can decide if I want to wear a port wine corset with gold dragons, or a black overbust corset with the port wine fabric as an added detail at the edges. Choice is a wonderful thing, and this has become the corset that I wear for special events: weddings, special birthdays and anniversaries.
Make Up and Hair by the talented Emma Curry and Julie Giuricin [joooli(at)live.com.au]. Emmelie is wearing some of our accessories from our online shop. The Florence Sparrow necklace is available here and the Eleanor Cameo Necklace can be found here.
I love how my fabrics, purchased as a souvenir of memories aboard, have collected new happy memories of friends’ weddings, picnics with friends, concerts, birthdays and I have even gone hiking in the arctic wearing my underbust corset – however eccentric it sounds, it was warm and practical in temperatures that froze my breath on my eyelashes. I could not be happier with my Vanyanís corsets. – Emmelie
Emmelie models her custom underbust corset (pictured in a warm parlour, not the arctic!). Photography © Mark Anthony Boyle
And there you have it! One client’s experience with my corsets. I was rather moved by the letter when I read it and I’m glad to have made such a positive difference in her life.
During the shoot we calculated that Emmelie has worn her underbust corset in excess of 300 times! And look at it! It’s in extremely good condition! In Victorian times if a corset lasted a year that was considered an extremely high selling point. I always take the utmost care when creating corsetry, and use the best fabrics, German steel and threads that I can find. Using an extremely high quality thread is so important as the thread holds the garment together. I’ve witnessed people cutting corners when it comes to thread quality (to save themselves a few dollars but costing you in durability) and it is just a big NO. You will only ever find the best thread on my machine and the best materials inside my corsets. I think the longevity is a testament to both my workmanship as well as the value Emmelie places on it. I know she takes great care of it and looks after it properly – it just goes to show what is possible when you buy quality garments and follow the care instructions.
Left: A close up of the stitching and a peak at the lining.
Right: A close up of the f-hole embroidery at the back.
Left: Showing the back of the corset – the silver laces are the original ones as supplied with the corset and you can see that the waistline is still perfectly intact. This corset does not have waist tape as my high-quality construction methods and techniques mean it is not required for waist-reduction and long-term use, as this frequently worn corset proves. Right: The luscious red cotton lining looks extravagant but is very soft and comfortable next to your skin.
If you would love to be the owner of a quality custom corset, please send an enquiry here. I also do Gift Vouchers if you know of someone who’d love something custom-made (they make the best Christmas presents!).
Thank you so much for reading and being a part of my blog, your support is very much welcomed and appreciated.