Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine’s Day Corsets at Dark Garden—Necessary Luxuries


Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and other actresses of her era seem to be endowed with impos­si­bly beau­ti­ful hour­glass fig­ures that are guar­an­teed to turn heads. Nowa­days we just don’t see a fig­ure like Marilyn’s, above in ‘River of No Return.’ Diet and exer­cise, per­sonal train­ers and plas­tic surgery are eas­ily avail­able to much of the pub­lic, but if you are won­der­ing what might be miss­ing from the equa­tion, it’s time to exam­ine the corset.

Over­whelm­ing Under­pin­nings

Few things are as sexy as a beau­ti­ful corset­ted midriff, as seen below in the photo by Kevin Duda. Made with opu­lent color and mag­nif­i­cent lace, corsets are what screen sirens of a bygone era wore when they wanted to look out­stand­ing, with that curvy hour­glass shape.

Dg corset back

Tra­di­tional corsetry, how­ever, may bring to mind a painful process or an uncom­fort­able manip­u­la­tion of the waist­line, but mod­ern corsets reveal that noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.

Autumn Adamme, pic­tured below in the photo by Joel Aron, is owner of San Francisco’s Dark Gar­den Corsetry and Cou­ture. She stated, “A bad corset hurts and a good corset actu­ally feels sup­port­ive, like a com­fort­ing hug.”


Corsetry–custom corsetry, in fact, is Dark Garden’s spe­cialty, and they do it well. Stated bur­lesque sen­sa­tion Dita Von Teese, pic­tured below, “Dark Gar­den has been my go-to corset maker for the past 15 years, mak­ing all of my stage corsets, apart from the ones Paris-based mas­ter corsetier Mr. Pearl has made.”

Peach corset

Our corsets are made to fit mod­ern bod­ies as opposed to Vic­to­rian bod­ies,” Autumn said. Most corset mak­ers are start­ing with his­tor­i­cal pat­terns, she told me, and you can’t really put a woman of 2014 into a corset from 1860 because their pro­por­tions are dif­fer­ent due to lifestyle changes. Women of today do not start wear­ing corsets at age five, as they did his­tor­i­cally. As a result, mod­ern women have rib cages that have expanded dif­fer­ently. In addi­tion, the mod­ern woman is much more phys­i­cally active, which also affects bone struc­ture and mus­cu­la­ture. “The Vic­to­rian shape had very slen­der ribs with a really nar­row back and a wider front, because women’s pos­ture was affected,” said Autumn.

Autumn is a stun­ning visual odd­ity from another place and time. Her pas­sion for the unique, the fem­i­nine, and the beau­ti­ful is per­cep­ti­ble imme­di­ately when you step inside her petite bou­tique and behold the wear­able art that engages the mind with fan­tasies that can actu­ally come true.

The beauty and fash­ion indus­try tend to be very focused on mak­ing us feel bad about our per­ceived flaws,” she told me. “We at Dark Gar­den invite peo­ple to see them­selves in a new light, to feel bet­ter in their bod­ies, to see their inner bomb­shell beauty.”

Women of any size can dis­cover their own hour­glass shape at Dark Gar­den, where they fit to a 55-inch waist and up to an H cup! And Autumn, a mae­stro in fash­ions of the unex­pected, blends refined with risqué, mak­ing her the ideal can­di­date for cre­at­ing cus­tom corsets and cou­ture, as well as mem­o­rable one-of-a-kind wed­ding gowns.

In addi­tion to Dita Von Teese, other celebri­ties have donned Dark Garden’s gowns and corsets, includ­ing Christina Aguil­era, Pamela Ander­son and Kelly Osbourne.


A corset will make a woman look bet­ter in cloth­ing, and it also improves the cur­va­tures of the waist­line per­ma­nently through a process called ‘waist training.’

Dark Garden’s Euphrates Dahout, above, in the photo by John Carey, told me that she has lost four inches from her orig­i­nal waist since she started waist train­ing a year and a half ago. Many celebri­ties, such as Jes­sica Alba, have used waist train­ing post preg­nancy to whit­tle their waist­lines. “I wore a dou­ble corset day and night for three months,” the actress said, “and it worked.”

Not only do corsets make a remark­able dif­fer­ence in the body’s sil­hou­ette, but they are often used as an alter­na­tive to med­ical back braces, Euphrates said.

Of course you can find lin­gerie that claims to be corsetry almost anywhere–Victoria’s Secret stocks ‘corsets’ from around $60 all the way up to $300+ while Agent Provo­ca­teur sells them of higher qual­ity from $660-$990, but none of them will shape the body and cinch the waist the way a true corset will. The corsets you see in bou­tiques are sim­ply lin­gerie mas­querad­ing as corsets, and they will not give you the dra­matic results of a gen­uine corset.

Dita playboy

The Play­boy corset for Dita [above], was done in con­junc­tion with Cather­ine D’Lish,” Autumn told me, “as was my pea­cock feather-covered corset,” she said. Yes, you read it cor­rectly: Autumn has a cus­tom corset cov­ered with pea­cock feath­ers which retails for $4,000!

Cather­ine D’Lish spends months on the embell­ish­ment of corsets,” Autumn said. Lesser dec­o­rated corsets can cost as lit­tle as $500. But find­ing a beau­ti­ful corset does not have to be even that expen­sive. A basic cinched black poplin corset at Dark Gar­den costs $275.

Dark Gar­den also stocks fab good­ies both old (such as vin­tage stock­ings wrapped deco­rously in waxen envelopes) and new (includ­ing the recently-launched epony­mous lin­gerie line by Dita Von Teese.) In addi­tion you will find unique jew­elry from Com­pass Rose Design and fab­u­lous vintage-inspired hats by Tri­cia Roush of House of Nines Designs.

I stopped by the inti­mate bou­tique, world-renowned and fre­quented by men and women of all shapes and sizes, to do a lit­tle inves­tiga­tive reporting.

Sales asso­ciate Danielle helped me shimmy into sev­eral corsets–this is a job best done with assis­tance at first, but I was told by Euphrates that the process becomes eas­ier and even­tu­ally self-sufficient with practice.

Many women find the process of buy­ing their first corset “trans­for­ma­tive,” Danielle said, and I wasn’t really sure exactly what she meant until I found my true love: the black Dark Gar­den ‘Risque Cincher,’ with sheer pan­elling, in the pho­to­graph by Joel Aron below.

Risque cincher

And oh, my, I fell hard! Trans­for­ma­tive, to say the least. This corset is prob­a­bly more valu­able than a month of ther­apy. It’s ‘retail ther­apy,’ as I’ve come to affec­tion­ately call it, when I blow a lot of dough on a highly-emotional pur­chase such as this sexy waist cincher.

The ‘Risque Cincher’ costs $430, which may sound expen­sive, but when you com­pare the value to flimsily-constructed impos­tors, Dark Garden’s prices are com­pletely reasonable.

It cre­ates a dra­matic hour­glass shape that makes me feel truly giddy with won­der at my own curves. Trust me, there is noth­ing like the exag­ger­ated sil­hou­ette that’s cre­ated by a corset–in all its naughty-nice grandeur–that will make you feel quite as fem­i­nine. You’ll look like a total temptress!

And this corset is a glam­orous addi­tion to the wardrobe on so many lev­els. You can wear it over a dress to cut a dra­matic pro­file, or keep it under wraps as a sexy sur­prise for your Valen­tine. The sheer pan­elling allows dec­o­ra­tive fab­rics and tat­toos to peek through.

Dress it up or down, wear it in the bed­room or to the bal­let, with a the­atri­cal play­ful­ness in cos­tume, or with seduc­tion on your wed­ding night. It can go vin­tage, fetish or mod­ern in the blink of an eye.

Most of the girls at Dark Gar­den have what is referred to as a “corset wardrobe”–a col­lec­tion of sexy corsets for dif­fer­ent occa­sions, and I can’t wait to get another one.

You’ll need to buy a bra and panties to accom­pany your corset. I added the Dita Von Teese Savoir Faire set–a vintage-inspired bra, $65, and panty, $45. The set is trimmed in fine chan­tilly lace and priced very rea­son­ably, espe­cially con­sid­er­ing the qual­ity of the laces and the crafts­man­ship of the work. Grand total with tax: $587.25, and worth every cent. If you’re unsure the size of your Valen­tine, stop into Dark Gar­den and let their accom­mo­dat­ing staff help you pick up some under­pin­nings for your love; or, con­sider a gift card. They always fit.

Autumn said, “Dark Gar­den was cre­ated with the inten­tion of adding to the beauty in the world. Life can be very chal­leng­ing at times, and we turn to beauty for inspi­ra­tion and hope. I want peo­ple who wear Dark Gar­den corsets to feel power, beauty, strength, and sensuality.”

And in the words of her client, the famous sex sym­bol Dita Von Teese, “Glam­our isn’t about age, shape or size. You don’t have to be pretty to have it. Any­one can cre­ate it.”

Well said, Dita, well said.

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