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.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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.’’

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

Tight lace:

Ivy D’Au­ton cus­tom-makes corsets as outer wear for clients rang­ing from 16 to 60.

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