Corsetiere started from one garment
DAILY GRIND A resurgence in the popularity of pin-up culture has put corsets back in vogue. Corsetiere Ivy D’auton chats with reporter Danielle Street about how she has stitched up a career in making the traditional garment.
It was sheer necessity that got Ivy D’Auton started in corsetry.
‘‘I wanted a corset, years ago now, and I was living in Dunedin at the time and there was nothing around so I purchased one off a rather questionable retailer who sold basic steelboned corsets.
‘‘The first night that I wore it the steel popped out and dug into my armpit.’’
Before returning the subpar product for a refund, Ms D’Auton took a pattern to try her hand at corset making.
‘‘I thought I could whip something up that would do the job better. And I did. And a friend wanted one, and then another friend, and so on.’’
Since sewing that first cor- set seven years ago the 28-year-old has crafted her own business as a bespoke corsetiere under the name Asphyxia Couture.
Her corsets are beautiful pieces of art that are intended to be worn as outer wear – each one tailored to the client’s particular desires.
Ms D’Auton has never trained professionally but says as a youngster she was often modifying her clothes.
Over the years the selftaught seamstress has worked with a lot of professionals to hone her craft and now caters for the cream of the burlesque crop as well as doing a fair share of bridal wear.
Though she tends to stick to corsetry she will sometimes design an outfit around a corset she is making.
One of her custom outfits, worn by entertainer Bonita Danger Doll, took the title of best costume at this year’s Miss Burlesque New Zealand.
The Arch Hill resident says quality is of utmost importance.
‘‘The steel that I use is highquality spring steel which often gets mislabelled in cheaper corsets. It’s usually just steel which doesn’t have the spring which generally warps and goes all funky and breaks through the fabric.’’
Another large difference between bespoke corsets and an off-the-shelf item is that each garment is tailored to fit the wearer properly.
Ms D’Auton says tracking down particular laces and fabrics from around the globe can mean a corset can take months to make.
‘‘But if I have everything there in front of me it can take between 10 and 30 hours for the patterning, cutting and sewing,’’ she says.
Her clientele ranges from 16 to 60 and includes ‘‘a lot of people you think wouldn’t be into corsets’’.
She says the popularity of 1950s pin-up style has helped put corsets back on the fashion map.
On top of that, she says more people are becoming interested in waist training – a semi-permanent form of body modification where a corset wearer can shrink the size of their waist from regular corset wearing.
However, Ms D’Auton says there are still many myths about corset wearing.
‘‘It’s still relatively new in New Zealand and a lot of people have no idea,’’ she says.
‘‘A lot of people still think they are some kind of Victorian torture trap for women as opposed to something desirable and alluring.’’
Ivy D’Auton custom-makes corsets as outer wear for clients ranging from 16 to 60.