An Interview with Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden Corsetry

Established by Autumn Adamme in 1989, Dark Garden has been referred to as ‘the Godmother of modern corsetry’. Designing and hand making corsets from her studio and store in San Francisco, Adamme and her team have cemented Dark Garden as one of the most popular corset markers in the USA, if not the world. She has been Dita Von Teese’s primary corset designer for the past 15 years and has also made corsets for Kelly Osboure, Pamela Anderson and Christina Aguilera.,


What makes Dark Garden corsets unlike other corset makers?

Originally only a destination shopping experience, Dark Garden is the only corset and wedding gown maker in the United States where a person can walk into the retail shop and be measured and fitted for a custom corset or custom gown by the very people that will be creating the garment.
In addition, because I came to corsetry because I love corsets and enjoy wearing them, I know how it feels to wear one – what feels good and supportive, and what can make a corset uncomfortable.
Corsets have a terrible reputation for discomfort and restricted breathing – and this can be true, but not if the corset truly fits. I love to wear corsets but don’t like to be uncomfortable, so I spent a lot of time working out the patterns and construction of the corsets so I could honestly tell people that they’re comfortable.

Why do you think the corset has become popular again this past year – do you think it has anything to do with the current ‘body ideal’ of Kim Kardashian’s hourglass figure?

I think the sudden mainstream interest in waist training comes from the influence of first, Jessica Alba, then Kim Kardashian. That said, over the last 25 years I’ve seen the interest in corsets ebb and flow a bit, but for the most part simply increase as people realize that they’re not torture chambers if made well, and that a corset really can improve your figure and posture, and can be a fantastic accessory to many types of outfit.

What makes a good corset?

First and foremost a good corset is about fit. Corsets have the potential to be uncomfortable  in a number of ways. If they’re too tight all over, it’s true, it’s hard to breather, but if they are comfortably snug throughout, with sufficient room for hips, ribs and bust, they are wonderfully supportive. By the same token, if they’re only tight at the waist and don’t support ribs and hips, they’re not comfortable. Seam lines should not curve drastically around the body, but flow harmoniously, and the waist curve should be spread out over several seams. The stitching should be even and small, the boning should be steel, and the fabric should be stable and comfortable. In addition, the grommets where the corset is laced shouldn’t be spaced more than 7/8″ apart, and must have a bone between them and the edge of the corset. If the corset has a busk, it should be moderately flexible and the loops and buttons should line up perfectly. There are now a few corset makers working with cheap, brittle steel. This can actually snap and cause damage to the body as well as the corset.

Why do you think people enjoy wearing corsets so much and what would you say to someone thinking about trying waist training?

My clients love wearing corsets for a number of reasons. The ones that I hear most often is how empowered they feel and that they love having a defined waist. “Oh my God, look at your waist!!” is the phrase I hear people’s friends shriek as their friend comes out of the dressing room to show off.
Many of us feel safe and comforted by the corset, like being hugged by someone that loves you. The pressure of the corset honestly is like that of a good hug.
As for trying out waist training – it’s amazing how much the body can be manipulated, but make sure you go for quality and a good fit. Try to only buy from a reputable company with years of experience. Corset making is quite an art, and “custom corset makers” come and go quickly, because it’s not an easy business to be in. In addition, try to buy from someone who actually wears what they’re making – it’s the only way they can really know if their corsets are comfortable.
If you’re scared to try it but are really curious, buy a corset that’s the right size and wear it for fun. If you enjoy that, then you can contemplate starting to train. It’s not for everyone, and there’s no shame in discovering you’re one of those people that doesn’t love corsetry. But if you do – prepare yourself for some attention!


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