Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Private Fitting Clinic with Autumn Adamme!

Dark Garden's proprietress and lead designer,
Autumn Adamme, in a bespoke corset dress
made from upcycled men's shirt and tie
We're currently putting together a syllabus for sewing-related classes. This launches an exciting development for us, showcasing our strength: creating beautifully fit and well-constructed handmade garments in the heart of San Francisco. More will be revealed in the future! In the meantime, we invite you to schedule an appointment for one-on-one fitting and sewing advice with our founder, Autumn Adamme.
Autumn fitting, draping, and hand-finishing a couture bridal ensemble
What kinds of projects can Autumn help you tackle? How about...

  • A garment in-progress
  • A mockup that you've started, but can't muster the courage to go forward with
  • A hard-to-fit client for your personal sewing business
  • Cutting for stripe and plaid matching
  • Fine finishing and embellishment techniques
Autumn's process for hand-placed and -finished textural overlay.
While this is a new service at Dark Garden, Autumn is no stranger to teaching. She's done several very successful workshops at the iconic Britex fabrics, and has both taught at and been keynote speaker for the Oxford Conference of Corsetry. Appointments are available in 1/2 hour increments up to 2 hours. The rate is $85 per hour, or $50 per half hour. Please email boutique@darkgarden.com to schedule, or call the boutique at 415-431-7684.

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere
Read More

Annual Corset Rummage Sale, July 17

Bespoke High-Back Dollymop Corset
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Alyxander Ryan
The curviest event of the year is nearly upon us! Join Dark Garden on July 17th for our annual rummage sale, our biggest single-day event. Savvy shoppers line up on Linden St. before we open to get first dibs on a selection of archive, unworn bespoke samples, and gently loved pre-owned corsets, as well as discounted stock corsets, clothing, accessories, and studio odds and ends.

Dark Garden Annual Rummage Sale
Sunday, July 17, 11am-6pm
Dark Garden Unique Corsetry
321 Linden St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-431-7684

Signature Collection Corselette
Model: Autumn Adamme
Photo © Joel Aron
Here's what you can expect to find in the way of corsets at our rummage sale:
  • Corset raffle! A single $5 ticket could win you a made-to-order corset from our Signature Collection
  • Unworn bespoke sample corsets, deeply discounted from their list price
  • Pre-loved corsets, sold on consignment from their previous owners
  • 10% discount on in-stock corsets
  • Deeper discounts on select in-stock corsets
  • Fashion show & archive corsets and ensembles
Beyond the corsets, our Rummage Sale also features:
  • Last-season garments and accessories on sale
  • Fabric remnants from the studio
  • Vintage patterns
  • All manner of miscellany
Bespoke Adelaide corset
via @darkgardencorsetry on Instagram
If you've outgrown - or outshrunk - your old Dark Garden corsets, bring them in between June 3rd and July 3rd to be assessed for consignment. You can opt to get cash or Dark Garden store credit if your corset sells at the rummage sale. Corsets must be dry cleaned and in good condition to be eligible; only Dark Garden corsets can be sold at our rummage sale. Please email boutique@darkgarden.com with, "Rummage sale consignment," in the subject line to make arrangements for consigning your Dark Garden corset.

Thank you for making last year's Rummage Sale such a resounding and joyous success. Please RSVP to this year's event on Facebook and share it with your friends - the rummage sale is a crazy day, and it's also an absolute blast. We'll see you there!

Dollymop Lancer Corset
Photo © Joel Aron
~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere
Read More

Friday, April 1, 2016

New Spring Hours & Scheduled Closures

Dark Garden Valentine corset with wrap bolero.
Designed by Autumn Adamme for our Spring 2016 collection.
Photo © Shoot That Klown Photography
Our Hayes Valley boutique has newly updated our store hours for spring. Beginning this week, our retail location at 437 Linden St., San Francisco will be open for business during the following times. Of course, you can shop online 24/7 at www.darkgarden.com!

Sunday through Wednesday: 11am to 5pm
Thursday: 11am to 6pm
Friday & Saturday: 11:30am to 6:30pm

In addition to these new hours, we have two scheduled closures coming up. The Dark Garden boutique will not be open on Wednesday, 4/13, and Sunday, 5/1. We invite you to explore Hayes Valley during Urban Air Market on May 1st, and return to visit us during our normal business hours another day.

Bespoke High Back Dollymop Overbust with Sleeves
Photo © John Carey

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere
Read More

Monday, March 28, 2016

Couture Corsetry Techniques: Flossing

Here at Dark Garden, we are all about the details. As well as our exquisitely pattern matched brocades and hand-pieced lace appliqué, we also offer corset flossing. Flossing is a traditional corset technique which combines form and function into beautiful embroidery which can actually prolong the life of your corset. This versatile design accent can be applied to virtually any corset, whether it be a pretty bridal piece or seductive vamp style.

Dark Garden "Paris" bespoke corset
with Moss Stitching and Satin Wings.
Model: Autumn Adamme
Photo © Joel Aron
Historically, flossing served to anchor the ends of corset boning within their channels. By reducing chafing against the fabric, the risk of a bone popping through is diminished. Naturally, this gave rise to quite an array of beautiful designs! As well as this functional style of flossing, we are also offering a curated selection of decorative embroidery options, including moss stitching and lovely sprigs of wheat sheafs.

Dark Garden corset flossing samplers.
via @DarkGardenCorsetry on Instagram.
Dark Garden's corset flossing was developed with the fabulous embroidery expert Diana LaFerry. Bone casing flossing is available in 10 motifs, as well as the decorative styles mentioned above. From classic Satin Wings and Double Fan to bold styles like Double Hex and Black Widow, each bone casing motif is designed for our signature paired bones on each seam. All styles of flossing are available in 11 different thread colors.

Dark Garden Sweetheart corset
with Shocks of Wheat and Satin Wings.
via @DarkGardenCorsetry on Instagram.
Flossing begins at $66 per corset plus $30-$75 for each placement, and can be added to your existing Dark Garden corset, a new stock corset, or a new order. We recommend a starting budget of at least $150 for the addition of simple flossing – but why stop there? Consider the luxury of $1000 worth of hand embroidered flossing. Either way, it's an excellent way to add unique texture and a pop of color to a simple and classic corset design. We particularly love it on bridal style corsets. Let it transform a traditional ivory corset with a uniquely elegant style, lending that heirloom feeling.

Dark Garden bespoke Alyscia coset
Photo © Stereo Photo Album

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere
Read More

Friday, March 4, 2016

Meet the Makers: Matthew Nash



Dark Garden is a special place, not just because we offer such a unique product, but also for the special people we hire to craft it. In our new Meet the Makers series, we'll take you behind the boutique into our atelier. You'll become acquainted with the artisans who work here at 321 Linden St. to create our beautiful corsets and ensembles. For this, our first installment, we're focusing on Matthew Nash, the mustachioed man who leads our bridal & couture department.


What is your background? Describe the path that led you to Dark Garden.
My first professional job in garment making was as a stitcher with the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico, in 1979. They had a summer apprentice program with on-the-job training. I put together a portfolio with costumes I'd made for friends, and interviewed in New York. I was hired though I had no professional experience and no formal training. I learned how to pattern by looking at books, and all the sewing I learned by trial and error. When I saw that there was a whole team of people that builds costumes, it was a turning moment. I realized I wanted to be a patternmaker, not a designer, and be the one who can turn those sketches into a real garment.

Then I was hired as a draper/patternmaker by the Folger Shakespeare's Theater back in DC, where I'd lived previously. I'd never done that before, but it was Shakespeare, so... not that complicated. So I just looked at books, and figured it out! The resident costume designer there used to work in England, in Covent Garden, and he was a patternmaker there. I learned a lot from him. I worked there for about five years.

Then I moved to California, with no job, and sent out resumes up and down the state. I only got one interview in San Diego, but they said I didn't have enough experience. I only had one resume left so I sent to the San Francisco Opera. Everybody said, "Oh, somebody has to die before you can get a job there," but it had just been taken over by Jenny Green from England. She was revamping the whole costume shop. She called me for an interview and it turned out that the resident costume designer that I used to work for in Washington DC used to work for her at Covent Garden. She knew he was a really good patternmaker and that I would have been trained in the style that she was interested in.

So she hired me! My first year I was there, I had 5 pay raises and 3 promotions. I guess I was good at it! There was always a last minute emergency in every production, and I quickly proved what I could do under pressure. I was there almost 30 years as their senior patternmaker.

After about a year working on my own, a colleague suggested I apply to Dark Garden. I hadn't made much womenswear before, let alone corsets, but I interviewed, and they were looking for someone to sew. I'm really a patternmaker, but I gave it a go, and here I am a year later! I learned to put in an invisible zipper and work with "girl" fabrics – charmeuse and chiffon and all that.


How would you describe what you do here?
I make everything that's not a corset!

Matthew in his Tailored Cincher with matching slacks.
Ambyr wears a Dollymop Amelia ensemble.
Photo © John Carey
That covers a pretty broad range of things, doesn't it?
I'm responsible for doing most of the patternmaking and sewing on all of our custom bridal ensembles. We do a wide range of skirt styles, as well as slacks and boleros.

I did menswear almost exclusively at the opera. I think that we could do more menswear here, especially trousers. A lot more men are coming in who want corsets – I see a lot of that! We can make corset vests and trousers as a matched set.

I also have my own business, Timeless Tailor. I do more menswear, costume, and leather work under that name. Visit my website at www.timelesstailor.com.


What are some of your favorite projects that you've done at Dark Garden?
It's great to be able to do ensembles like an elaborate Halloween wedding gown. But then we can also do simple stuff – a great, slinky skirt that fits really nicely and is beautifully finished.

We're working on a really rewarding project right now, with a petticoat, underskirt, overskirt, bolero, corset, and veil. It's based on a computer generated character design. I put a lot of time into draping the skirts, and at the first fitting they were perfect.

Design is all about proportion – that's what I learned at the Opera. No matter what someone's size and shape is, you play with the proportions and make them look the best they possibly can. 'Cause that tenor's gotta look like the soprano's going to kill herself over him! Just... gorgeous.


Describe your work philosophy.
When I was little, my dad told me, "No matter what you do, do it to the best of your ability, even if it's digging ditches. If you do your best, it'll be recognized."

I can't compromise on quality. I do things the way I do them... because it's the way I have to do them. I can't do it to anything less than my very best. It's a curse and a gift!
Read More

Friday, February 19, 2016

Why We Lace Our Corsets the Way We Do

Here at Dark Garden, we have a very particular way of lacing our corsets. There's a specific reason why we like them laced this way. Let's delve into not just why we lace them thusly, but also how we figured it out. Our proprietress and lead designer, Autumn Adamme, will be recounting the story firsthand.
Dark Garden Aziza corset
Model: Vienna La Rouge
Photo © Joel Aron
Along the way to explaining these things, I’m going to take a moment to say that while I may not be the first person to choose to lace corsets this way, I know that I worked it out all on my own. I believe it has since been named cross lacing – I’m not sure, it’s just how I do it. It happened sometime between 1989, when I started and named Dark Garden, and 1992, when Monique Motil joined me and our quest for corset mastery truly began.

Dark Garden corset, laced without our signature crossed waist loops
In the three photos above you’ll see three types of lacing. The photo directly above illustrates how many corsets are laced these days, and how nearly all corsets were laced when I started making corsets (1987 - yes, I WAS a child). I decided to re-lace one of ours to show why I personally don’t like it. You’ll notice that there’s a gap at the waist, where the garment is tightest. In addition, the skin that has been pulled to the back of the body bulges between the laces, even on this very slender corset wearer.
Dark Garden corset, laced to our standard method
The second photo shows the same corset put back to rights. (Kidding, it’s laced as all Dark Garden corsets are: to my preference, right or wrong.) You’ll see that at the waist there’s more lacing, instead of less. Therefore, the skin there is supported, and kept inside the corset.

Maidenform advertisment circa 1990
The third photo is a Maidenform advertisement which has been part of my inspiration wall in 5 locations now, since 1990. I ripped it out of Cosmopolitan Magazine, if I recall correctly. You’ll see that one of the pairs of grommets has been skipped, and I wondered for a while why they’d do this, but I also thought at first that the laces crossed, as we do our laces. I recall looking at this photo and wondering how the top ribbon went to the bottom and vice versa (I was a kid, remember?) and I experimented, and came up with what we’ve been doing ever since.

Dark Garden bespoke "Grable" corset
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Joel Aron
Since I’ve taken a ride in the way-back machine to write this post, I must give credit where credit is due. My friend Jwlhyfer de Winter laced her corsets with satin ribbon when everyone else was using round cord or shoe lace. She did this because she liked how easily it slid through the grommets, and I copied her. I also like that you can buy it in so many colors and it’s really darn strong. As my friend and rope-bondage expert Mistress Midori pointed out, satin ribbon is braided polyester – which really is just pretty rope.


So, to sum up: The strength of cross-lacing is greater than conventional lacing and I rest my case there! If you're interested in learning more about corset lacing, do come by our upcoming How to Lace Up a Corset event on Friday, March 4! We will also be hosting this event on several other dates throughout the year at our 321 Linden St., San Francisco boutique.
~Autumn Adamme
Founder
Read More

Friday, February 5, 2016

Treat Yourself to a Champagne & Corset Service This Valentine's Day!

Risqué Cincher
Model: If-N'-Whendy
Photo © Chris Gaede
Treat yourself like a VIP this Valentine's Day! Dark Garden would love to host you and up to five friends for an exclusive champagne service styling party. During our regular business hours (11am-5pm) on Sunday, February 14, we are accepting bookings for 2-hour Sparkling Style Parties at our 321 Linden St. boutique in San Francisco.

Risqué Sweetheart
Model: Dwoira Galilea
Photo © Joel Aron
Each $500 party hosts up to 6 guests and includes 2 bottles of sparkling wine... delicate nibbles... and 2 private attendants. Lounge in our cozy couture loft while our experts fetch and fit corsets and other intimate apparel and accessories from our boutique floor. Describe your personal style and we'll help you select the perfect custom fabric and details for a made-to-order corset.

The Ambrose and Tailored Cincher
Photo © Joel Aron
To book your private party with us, email boutique@darkgarden.com or call 415-431-7684 and ask for Ambyr or Alee.

This package is great for:
  • bachelorette parties
  • couples 
  • or trios, or more! – we pride ourselves on our inclusivity
  • best friend dates
  • couple friends
Signature Collection Cincher
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Joel Aron
For those looking to treat someone else this Valentine's Day, a Dark Garden gift certificate makes a lovely gift. From now through next Sunday, we are giving away two free pairs of luscious red garters (a $40 value) with every gift certificate purchase of at least $100. This offer is valid while supplies last.

Couture ensemble featuring
"Alyscia" bespoke corset
Photo © Chris Gaede

Happy Valentine's Day!

With love,
Dark Garden

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Read More

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Private Fitting Clinic with Autumn Adamme!

Dark Garden's proprietress and lead designer,
Autumn Adamme, in a bespoke corset dress
made from upcycled men's shirt and tie
We're currently putting together a syllabus for sewing-related classes. This launches an exciting development for us, showcasing our strength: creating beautifully fit and well-constructed handmade garments in the heart of San Francisco. More will be revealed in the future! In the meantime, we invite you to schedule an appointment for one-on-one fitting and sewing advice with our founder, Autumn Adamme.
Autumn fitting, draping, and hand-finishing a couture bridal ensemble
What kinds of projects can Autumn help you tackle? How about...

  • A garment in-progress
  • A mockup that you've started, but can't muster the courage to go forward with
  • A hard-to-fit client for your personal sewing business
  • Cutting for stripe and plaid matching
  • Fine finishing and embellishment techniques
Autumn's process for hand-placed and -finished textural overlay.
While this is a new service at Dark Garden, Autumn is no stranger to teaching. She's done several very successful workshops at the iconic Britex fabrics, and has both taught at and been keynote speaker for the Oxford Conference of Corsetry. Appointments are available in 1/2 hour increments up to 2 hours. The rate is $85 per hour, or $50 per half hour. Please email boutique@darkgarden.com to schedule, or call the boutique at 415-431-7684.

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Annual Corset Rummage Sale, July 17

Bespoke High-Back Dollymop Corset
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Alyxander Ryan
The curviest event of the year is nearly upon us! Join Dark Garden on July 17th for our annual rummage sale, our biggest single-day event. Savvy shoppers line up on Linden St. before we open to get first dibs on a selection of archive, unworn bespoke samples, and gently loved pre-owned corsets, as well as discounted stock corsets, clothing, accessories, and studio odds and ends.

Dark Garden Annual Rummage Sale
Sunday, July 17, 11am-6pm
Dark Garden Unique Corsetry
321 Linden St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-431-7684

Signature Collection Corselette
Model: Autumn Adamme
Photo © Joel Aron
Here's what you can expect to find in the way of corsets at our rummage sale:
  • Corset raffle! A single $5 ticket could win you a made-to-order corset from our Signature Collection
  • Unworn bespoke sample corsets, deeply discounted from their list price
  • Pre-loved corsets, sold on consignment from their previous owners
  • 10% discount on in-stock corsets
  • Deeper discounts on select in-stock corsets
  • Fashion show & archive corsets and ensembles
Beyond the corsets, our Rummage Sale also features:
  • Last-season garments and accessories on sale
  • Fabric remnants from the studio
  • Vintage patterns
  • All manner of miscellany
Bespoke Adelaide corset
via @darkgardencorsetry on Instagram
If you've outgrown - or outshrunk - your old Dark Garden corsets, bring them in between June 3rd and July 3rd to be assessed for consignment. You can opt to get cash or Dark Garden store credit if your corset sells at the rummage sale. Corsets must be dry cleaned and in good condition to be eligible; only Dark Garden corsets can be sold at our rummage sale. Please email boutique@darkgarden.com with, "Rummage sale consignment," in the subject line to make arrangements for consigning your Dark Garden corset.

Thank you for making last year's Rummage Sale such a resounding and joyous success. Please RSVP to this year's event on Facebook and share it with your friends - the rummage sale is a crazy day, and it's also an absolute blast. We'll see you there!

Dollymop Lancer Corset
Photo © Joel Aron
~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Friday, April 1, 2016

New Spring Hours & Scheduled Closures

Dark Garden Valentine corset with wrap bolero.
Designed by Autumn Adamme for our Spring 2016 collection.
Photo © Shoot That Klown Photography
Our Hayes Valley boutique has newly updated our store hours for spring. Beginning this week, our retail location at 437 Linden St., San Francisco will be open for business during the following times. Of course, you can shop online 24/7 at www.darkgarden.com!

Sunday through Wednesday: 11am to 5pm
Thursday: 11am to 6pm
Friday & Saturday: 11:30am to 6:30pm

In addition to these new hours, we have two scheduled closures coming up. The Dark Garden boutique will not be open on Wednesday, 4/13, and Sunday, 5/1. We invite you to explore Hayes Valley during Urban Air Market on May 1st, and return to visit us during our normal business hours another day.

Bespoke High Back Dollymop Overbust with Sleeves
Photo © John Carey

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Monday, March 28, 2016

Couture Corsetry Techniques: Flossing

Here at Dark Garden, we are all about the details. As well as our exquisitely pattern matched brocades and hand-pieced lace appliqué, we also offer corset flossing. Flossing is a traditional corset technique which combines form and function into beautiful embroidery which can actually prolong the life of your corset. This versatile design accent can be applied to virtually any corset, whether it be a pretty bridal piece or seductive vamp style.

Dark Garden "Paris" bespoke corset
with Moss Stitching and Satin Wings.
Model: Autumn Adamme
Photo © Joel Aron
Historically, flossing served to anchor the ends of corset boning within their channels. By reducing chafing against the fabric, the risk of a bone popping through is diminished. Naturally, this gave rise to quite an array of beautiful designs! As well as this functional style of flossing, we are also offering a curated selection of decorative embroidery options, including moss stitching and lovely sprigs of wheat sheafs.

Dark Garden corset flossing samplers.
via @DarkGardenCorsetry on Instagram.
Dark Garden's corset flossing was developed with the fabulous embroidery expert Diana LaFerry. Bone casing flossing is available in 10 motifs, as well as the decorative styles mentioned above. From classic Satin Wings and Double Fan to bold styles like Double Hex and Black Widow, each bone casing motif is designed for our signature paired bones on each seam. All styles of flossing are available in 11 different thread colors.

Dark Garden Sweetheart corset
with Shocks of Wheat and Satin Wings.
via @DarkGardenCorsetry on Instagram.
Flossing begins at $66 per corset plus $30-$75 for each placement, and can be added to your existing Dark Garden corset, a new stock corset, or a new order. We recommend a starting budget of at least $150 for the addition of simple flossing – but why stop there? Consider the luxury of $1000 worth of hand embroidered flossing. Either way, it's an excellent way to add unique texture and a pop of color to a simple and classic corset design. We particularly love it on bridal style corsets. Let it transform a traditional ivory corset with a uniquely elegant style, lending that heirloom feeling.

Dark Garden bespoke Alyscia coset
Photo © Stereo Photo Album

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere

Friday, March 4, 2016

Meet the Makers: Matthew Nash



Dark Garden is a special place, not just because we offer such a unique product, but also for the special people we hire to craft it. In our new Meet the Makers series, we'll take you behind the boutique into our atelier. You'll become acquainted with the artisans who work here at 321 Linden St. to create our beautiful corsets and ensembles. For this, our first installment, we're focusing on Matthew Nash, the mustachioed man who leads our bridal & couture department.


What is your background? Describe the path that led you to Dark Garden.
My first professional job in garment making was as a stitcher with the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico, in 1979. They had a summer apprentice program with on-the-job training. I put together a portfolio with costumes I'd made for friends, and interviewed in New York. I was hired though I had no professional experience and no formal training. I learned how to pattern by looking at books, and all the sewing I learned by trial and error. When I saw that there was a whole team of people that builds costumes, it was a turning moment. I realized I wanted to be a patternmaker, not a designer, and be the one who can turn those sketches into a real garment.

Then I was hired as a draper/patternmaker by the Folger Shakespeare's Theater back in DC, where I'd lived previously. I'd never done that before, but it was Shakespeare, so... not that complicated. So I just looked at books, and figured it out! The resident costume designer there used to work in England, in Covent Garden, and he was a patternmaker there. I learned a lot from him. I worked there for about five years.

Then I moved to California, with no job, and sent out resumes up and down the state. I only got one interview in San Diego, but they said I didn't have enough experience. I only had one resume left so I sent to the San Francisco Opera. Everybody said, "Oh, somebody has to die before you can get a job there," but it had just been taken over by Jenny Green from England. She was revamping the whole costume shop. She called me for an interview and it turned out that the resident costume designer that I used to work for in Washington DC used to work for her at Covent Garden. She knew he was a really good patternmaker and that I would have been trained in the style that she was interested in.

So she hired me! My first year I was there, I had 5 pay raises and 3 promotions. I guess I was good at it! There was always a last minute emergency in every production, and I quickly proved what I could do under pressure. I was there almost 30 years as their senior patternmaker.

After about a year working on my own, a colleague suggested I apply to Dark Garden. I hadn't made much womenswear before, let alone corsets, but I interviewed, and they were looking for someone to sew. I'm really a patternmaker, but I gave it a go, and here I am a year later! I learned to put in an invisible zipper and work with "girl" fabrics – charmeuse and chiffon and all that.


How would you describe what you do here?
I make everything that's not a corset!

Matthew in his Tailored Cincher with matching slacks.
Ambyr wears a Dollymop Amelia ensemble.
Photo © John Carey
That covers a pretty broad range of things, doesn't it?
I'm responsible for doing most of the patternmaking and sewing on all of our custom bridal ensembles. We do a wide range of skirt styles, as well as slacks and boleros.

I did menswear almost exclusively at the opera. I think that we could do more menswear here, especially trousers. A lot more men are coming in who want corsets – I see a lot of that! We can make corset vests and trousers as a matched set.

I also have my own business, Timeless Tailor. I do more menswear, costume, and leather work under that name. Visit my website at www.timelesstailor.com.


What are some of your favorite projects that you've done at Dark Garden?
It's great to be able to do ensembles like an elaborate Halloween wedding gown. But then we can also do simple stuff – a great, slinky skirt that fits really nicely and is beautifully finished.

We're working on a really rewarding project right now, with a petticoat, underskirt, overskirt, bolero, corset, and veil. It's based on a computer generated character design. I put a lot of time into draping the skirts, and at the first fitting they were perfect.

Design is all about proportion – that's what I learned at the Opera. No matter what someone's size and shape is, you play with the proportions and make them look the best they possibly can. 'Cause that tenor's gotta look like the soprano's going to kill herself over him! Just... gorgeous.


Describe your work philosophy.
When I was little, my dad told me, "No matter what you do, do it to the best of your ability, even if it's digging ditches. If you do your best, it'll be recognized."

I can't compromise on quality. I do things the way I do them... because it's the way I have to do them. I can't do it to anything less than my very best. It's a curse and a gift!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Why We Lace Our Corsets the Way We Do

Here at Dark Garden, we have a very particular way of lacing our corsets. There's a specific reason why we like them laced this way. Let's delve into not just why we lace them thusly, but also how we figured it out. Our proprietress and lead designer, Autumn Adamme, will be recounting the story firsthand.
Dark Garden Aziza corset
Model: Vienna La Rouge
Photo © Joel Aron
Along the way to explaining these things, I’m going to take a moment to say that while I may not be the first person to choose to lace corsets this way, I know that I worked it out all on my own. I believe it has since been named cross lacing – I’m not sure, it’s just how I do it. It happened sometime between 1989, when I started and named Dark Garden, and 1992, when Monique Motil joined me and our quest for corset mastery truly began.

Dark Garden corset, laced without our signature crossed waist loops
In the three photos above you’ll see three types of lacing. The photo directly above illustrates how many corsets are laced these days, and how nearly all corsets were laced when I started making corsets (1987 - yes, I WAS a child). I decided to re-lace one of ours to show why I personally don’t like it. You’ll notice that there’s a gap at the waist, where the garment is tightest. In addition, the skin that has been pulled to the back of the body bulges between the laces, even on this very slender corset wearer.
Dark Garden corset, laced to our standard method
The second photo shows the same corset put back to rights. (Kidding, it’s laced as all Dark Garden corsets are: to my preference, right or wrong.) You’ll see that at the waist there’s more lacing, instead of less. Therefore, the skin there is supported, and kept inside the corset.

Maidenform advertisment circa 1990
The third photo is a Maidenform advertisement which has been part of my inspiration wall in 5 locations now, since 1990. I ripped it out of Cosmopolitan Magazine, if I recall correctly. You’ll see that one of the pairs of grommets has been skipped, and I wondered for a while why they’d do this, but I also thought at first that the laces crossed, as we do our laces. I recall looking at this photo and wondering how the top ribbon went to the bottom and vice versa (I was a kid, remember?) and I experimented, and came up with what we’ve been doing ever since.

Dark Garden bespoke "Grable" corset
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Joel Aron
Since I’ve taken a ride in the way-back machine to write this post, I must give credit where credit is due. My friend Jwlhyfer de Winter laced her corsets with satin ribbon when everyone else was using round cord or shoe lace. She did this because she liked how easily it slid through the grommets, and I copied her. I also like that you can buy it in so many colors and it’s really darn strong. As my friend and rope-bondage expert Mistress Midori pointed out, satin ribbon is braided polyester – which really is just pretty rope.


So, to sum up: The strength of cross-lacing is greater than conventional lacing and I rest my case there! If you're interested in learning more about corset lacing, do come by our upcoming How to Lace Up a Corset event on Friday, March 4! We will also be hosting this event on several other dates throughout the year at our 321 Linden St., San Francisco boutique.
~Autumn Adamme
Founder

Friday, February 5, 2016

Treat Yourself to a Champagne & Corset Service This Valentine's Day!

Risqué Cincher
Model: If-N'-Whendy
Photo © Chris Gaede
Treat yourself like a VIP this Valentine's Day! Dark Garden would love to host you and up to five friends for an exclusive champagne service styling party. During our regular business hours (11am-5pm) on Sunday, February 14, we are accepting bookings for 2-hour Sparkling Style Parties at our 321 Linden St. boutique in San Francisco.

Risqué Sweetheart
Model: Dwoira Galilea
Photo © Joel Aron
Each $500 party hosts up to 6 guests and includes 2 bottles of sparkling wine... delicate nibbles... and 2 private attendants. Lounge in our cozy couture loft while our experts fetch and fit corsets and other intimate apparel and accessories from our boutique floor. Describe your personal style and we'll help you select the perfect custom fabric and details for a made-to-order corset.

The Ambrose and Tailored Cincher
Photo © Joel Aron
To book your private party with us, email boutique@darkgarden.com or call 415-431-7684 and ask for Ambyr or Alee.

This package is great for:
  • bachelorette parties
  • couples 
  • or trios, or more! – we pride ourselves on our inclusivity
  • best friend dates
  • couple friends
Signature Collection Cincher
Model: Victoria Dagger
Photo © Joel Aron
For those looking to treat someone else this Valentine's Day, a Dark Garden gift certificate makes a lovely gift. From now through next Sunday, we are giving away two free pairs of luscious red garters (a $40 value) with every gift certificate purchase of at least $100. This offer is valid while supplies last.

Couture ensemble featuring
"Alyscia" bespoke corset
Photo © Chris Gaede

Happy Valentine's Day!

With love,
Dark Garden

~Marianne
Multi-Purpose Corsetiere