Corset Pilgrimage 2016
This June/ July I had the opportunity to visit a bit of the USA and of course I could not go America without reaching out to some of my fellow corset-makers there. The main reason for my trip was to attend two weddings but it also turned into a bit of #corsetpilgrimage.
The first wedding was of my husband's cousin Lynn. I had made her a single layer rosebud coutil overbust corset to go under her wedding-gown. I wanted to keep this corset light as she was getting married in the Arizona heat and it was meant to function as foundation wear. I intentionally kept the back low so it would no show above her gown. The corset made her dress sit beautifully and I have not seen her tug on dress all evening, meaning the corset did it's job of keeping everything in place. And yes there was definitely dancing involved ;). The corset also gave Lynne a more pronounced waistline and eliminated all under-bust wrinkling of the wedding dress which it was previously doing without the corset under it. The design I made for her featured custom dip-dyed boning channels in sky blue and blue and white flossing. With this corset she had her something blue and new covered in one go. The wedding was a lot of fun, it included super nerdy center pieces, light-saber flights and great food. You got to love geeky weddings <3 !
While in Arizona I also had the chance to go for an evening of drinks and corset-chat with Shar and Shelly, both corsetmakers. It is always nice to be able to talk techniques, business and goals with like-minded people. And just to emphasize how small the corsetry world is, Shelly mentioned she had met Autumn Adamme (whom I would meet up with later in my trip) at a wedding just the week previous. That evening as I walked back to my aunt's house it had just rained, marking the start of monsoon season in Mesa Arizona. Up until than I had not realized it ever rained in Arizona ^^. The fresh just rained scent, the lightning running through the sky and the still hot pavement and a million corset ideas running through my head made for a memorable walk. We are in the USA for the 4th of July and of course we had to go dress up and watch the fireworks! It felt to me like a mashup between New Year's Eve and King's day here in the Netherlands .
After hanging out with family for a week my husband and I got a chance to do some traveling around, our first stop would be San Jose. We flew out there from Phoenix. As the Bay Area can be quite expensive to stay, I was happy Laurie (of Laurie Tavan Bespoke Corsetry & Gowns) had gracefully invited us to come stay with her and her family for a few days. I had met Laurie at the 2015 Oxford Conference and we had kept in touch by social media since. She even had expressed and interest in making a corset to my measurements to get some practice with more curvaceous patterns. Despite it being a little bit of a rush for her to get the corset finished in time we did do a mini photo-shoot in the 'little phoenix' corset she made for me to try. But that was definitely not the only corset of her I tried on. I had a blast playing dress up in all of her beautiful creations. I am always exited to try on work from other corset makers and modeling Laurie's work was a dream come true.
It was wonderful to have a chance to exchange corset ideas and discuss techniques in debt and at length. While I visited Laurie's beautiful studio I also got a chance to help her out, by putting my textile conservation training to good use. I help her properly pack/ store her (antique) corset collection. Preventive conservation is half the job for the longevity of your textiles after-all. After spending a few days in San Jose I learned a lot and added a dual needle machine to my wishlist. So a big thank you once again to Laurie and her husband for putting us up for a few nights! Here are some of the beautiful shots Laurie took of me in her corsets while I was visiting her:
From San Jose my husband and I took the train up to San Francisco where we stayed among all the beautiful painted ladies. I had never realized that these cool Victorian houses were all over rather than just that one street you see in pictures over and over again. What did strike me is the mad checkerboard differences between rich and poor areas in this city. We stayed at the Casa Loma Hotel on Fillmore St which was a simple but tidy hotel. The room was small but at least we didn't have to share a bathroom. So we accidentally choose a very nice part of the city to stay in. We really loved walking along Height street and we felt right at home among all the tech-savvy peeps in this city.
I had arranged an appointment beforehand at Dark Garden. My husband took the chance to visit the computer history museum while I went for my fitting to get a custom underbust ordered. I like collecting pieces from other corset makers as everyone has their own individual style. Slowly but surely I will build up a collection of makers I admire. Autumn Adamme (founder and owner) received me and showed me around their workspace. As I had already expected, we quickly figured out I had to get a custom rather than one of Dark Garden's off the rack corsets. Visiting the Dark
Garden shop was a delight, I mean it is as close to a modern day Victorian corset shop as you are going to get and I loved it!
The fabrics I choose were a bright pink satin, a black and pink patterned fabric and some nice black Chantilly lace. (I have now received my first mockup and I am waiting for the next, exciting stuff!) Autumn also agreed to go out for lunch together and I really appreciate that she took the time to talk business with me.
I kinda wish we had had more time to see more of San Francisco because I really loved it, but at €200 a night for a hotel room it added up rather quickly. I have a feeling however I will be back there at some point though.
We traded the painted ladies for the mountains of Colorado as our next stop would be Denver. And you guessed it, more corset related visits were on the itinerary. Here I met up with Heidi and Kitty (of Crimson Rose Corsetry ). I ended up spending the better part of 2 days in Kitty's shop chatting away. The next morning she took me fabric shopping, and let me tell you that was a bad idea for my wallet ;). Despite the awesome deals that the shop gave us. I went home with a suitcase full of beautiful fabrics. I found this gorgeous blue/purple/teal wool, a dipdye silk that exactly matched my hair at the time, and of course more silk. I also spotted the dip dye green voile and as soon as I saw that I had a feeling it matched the lily of the valley corset I had just made. I went digging in my purse to see if I had a rogue silk swatch of that corset with me, but no such luck. When I had unpacked my entire purse I found a tiny bright green thread stuck to my mirror cover, and as expected it was exactly the right shade of green so it came home with me. You can see the result in the photo on the right. Of course Kitty and I also had to do the corset swap. If you are ever find yourself in Denver make sure to step by Artsmyths as it is truly a fab place to hang out.
Our last leg of the journey took us to Fruita Colorado and all I can say is wow at the amazing scenery along the way there. Nation monument Colorado was absolutely stunning! We also took home some lovely mead from Palasade, which I sampled before lunch, which made me slightly tipsy. We had the pleasure of attending a beautiful Pinterest prefect garden wedding of one of my husband's friends in Loma on our last weekend in the VS. The evening before the wedding we got invited to a wonderful pre wedding dinner and for the second time in my life I saw fireflies. They may be common in some parts of the the USA but in Europe they are rare, they are so so so magical.
The food cooked by the groom's mother was amazing! She also did the wedding catering and wow was it gorgeous. The was a beautiful intimate ceremony in the garden of the bride's parents. We had the most amazing sunset that night. I really loved the whole atmosphere of the wedding, it was truly magical.
To sum up this US corset pilgrimage was a fantastic, looking forward to the next one!