Thursday, October 23, 2008

High Drama, Anyone?

Okay, friends. Let's talk. I want you all to know that my mind is constantly working on new corset designs. I have a very vivid imagination, and it just won't shut off, and thanks heavens I have a good hobby to channel all of that crazy energy into. Now, there have been many failed attempts at taking a pattern I dreamed up from the sketch on a piece of paper to actual cloth. I wish I would have saved some of those sketches, and then I would have shown you the misshapen, shameful piles of cloth and boning that they turned into. It's really quite funny....in a painful "I'm a failure" type of way. But, let's get to the point. I want to ask you, honestly, -Are very unique-dramatic-bold-character-filled bodices a good thing or a bad thing? The reason I ask is because I've designed a few that I thought were marvelous, and I NEVER get orders for them and they never sell if I have them at renaissance festivals. For instance, I have hooded corsets, and there's the occasional custom order for them, few and far between. If I ever have one at a renaissance festival, some lady always comes by, pinches it in her fingers, holding it at arm's length as if it were a dead rat, and asks, "What is THIS?" I say "Uh....a hood?" And she says, "Why?"


And then there's this bodice in these pictures. It has a huge crazy collar, and I think it's simply fabulous, but I NEVER sell these. It makes me want to weep. Do people really NOT want innovation in designs? Should I stick to your basic "lace-up-the-front-with-shoulder-straps" bodice that is bereft of any collars, tails, whistles, or bells??? Every time someone contacts me and asks, "Hey, can I get this bodice, only without the collar?" , a little part inside of me dies. I think, "Well, HELL! What's the use of trying to be a non-conformist?" If being a mindless, thoughtless lemming is what will make me money.....maybe I should take that route?

Thus, back to the original topic. I'm asking all of you in the vast internet world out there-Is it a good thing for my business to have lots of different designs, or should I just stick to 4 basic patterns, thus eliminating the already brutal decision-making process? Sometimes too many options is just confusing and makes peoples' brains shut down. I CAN be boring, if you think I should. I'll keep all of those goofy little sketches to myself, and I'll only show them to my husband (he always gets a good chuckle out of my vampire-janeausten-medieval-disney villain ideas!) Talk to me people, I really want to know. My business is made for women who want to look sexy, stunning, and basically better than everyone else. If the crazy bodices are too much, they can ALWAYS go.

With that, I'll get to bed so I can wake up at 5 in the morning for more corsetland adventures!!!!

I love you guys!


Damsel in this Dress Corsets


  1. No! Don't be boring! No no no! Don't conform!

    (Too many exclamation points or not enough?)

    If I weren't dirt poor I'd commission something fabulously creative. It's why I watch your blog--to see your creativity work and to drool and have saucer eyes and then gleefully show your designs around to friends and say "One day, I swear, and it'll be grand!"


  2. Ok so I happened upon your booth at the Shrewsburry Renaissance Faire and I loved it!!! I wanted to buy something so badly, but of course I was dead broke (stupid lack of money!), so when I got home I tracked down your website and blog and now here we are. Anyway I love your designs and say you should definitely not keep all those unique ideas to yourself! The more original options the better I say. People who can't handle your awesome designs should just go home. I love the whole outfit in the pictures on this post, bodice and skirt. I would buy one of everything you made if I could afford it. So yeah, I hope this comment wasn't too ranty and creepy since you don't know me and all, but don't let those conformists get you down!

  3. It's a matter of finding and marketing to the right people. I love some of your more innovative designs, and always find myself disappointed and upset when they sell... heck, I even have a few ideas for a piece I'd like to see you make (kind of a 4-in-1 piece).

    Pieces like this are amazing, but I think that it's got a very fine niche market... SCA'ers/re-enactors aren't always going to want the creative and beautiful, vibrant and bold pieces. You have to find clients like me who are theatrical in nature, dress up alot, etc., and aren't so concerned with accuracy so much as fabulousness...

  4. OK, personally, the collar on this one is not my cup of tea. I'm all for innovations, but it depends on who you're trying to sell it to. I can't see these collars without thinking, "Oh God, the crazy Dracula capes from the Lon Chaney-era movies." Some people will love them, but ren-faire people? Not as much - because they don't look historical and they don't do a lot to flatter a figure (in my very humble opinion, mind.) Perhaps some expanded marketing? I bet if you could get word out to places like NYC you'd get more orders for it because there are more theater people and fewer SCA folks.

  5. I think it all comes down to money, honey. If I had money to spend I would buy so many of your designs...and not just the basic ones. I LOVE extravagant eccentric things and your creations are cleverly designed and made with quality. Anyone who sews can see that, and anyone who doesn't sew wishes they could sew like that. You have a talent and if you stop designing all the fun pieces, it just becomes another job. But it shows in your work that you love what you do. And I for one LOVE to see what you'll come up with next. I stalk your blog page like a kid at a toy store window. I only wish I had the money. I'm sure you hear that a lot, but that really is the only thing holding me back. Hell, I lived off top roman for a week when I bought my first bodice from you and was prepared to do it again for my last one...so glad I didn't have to though. Anyway, you brighten up my day when I see what fun new creations you have manifested from the artistic depths of your mind and I for one am eager to see more.

    Your devoted groupie,

  6. I love all your bodices.

    Esp. the collars, and esp the hoods. I wish I was the kind of girl to be able to pull them off! If I were, I would snatch them up in a heart beat.

    As to what *I* would like to see more of, not that you asked, but I would love to see more custom made for you posted. (Or the fabrics page updated.) And I love your skirts!

  7. Ooooooooooooooooooh stop! It's hard for a creative person not to be absolutely crushed when some stupid person picks at their awesomeness...but don't let it get you down, they just want plastic boning anyway ;) So I say, let their stomache look like a ski slope! Let their back rolls flow from their crappy cheap bodices! Let people make faces at them as they walk by! And meanwhile, we'll smile and laugh in your booth (because we refuse to leave-FRIENDS FOREVER!! RIGHT?! *stalker smile*) and truly be happy when someone who recognizes good quality can come around and say "WOW these are absolutely worth the price! I look hot! I feel amazing! I'm telling all my friends!"

    I say, make your website bodice section have the "normal stuff" and maybe make a special link in there to a custom gallery for the "extreme couture wearers" out there. Put the hoodies, collars, funky ruffles and every other creation you love out there! ALL of them! Someone will be inspired and HAVE to have it so give prices for sure. But it also lets people know that you've got a great imagination and that if they ask you to do something, you'll absolutely be able to follow through.

    Besides, the minute you don't do a funky collar the world will stop spinning and the universe as we know it will gasp in one collective breath to the point wher all oxygen will get sucked up and we'll all die. So don't conform or else the world will perish...or something like that.

  8. oh! also, quite a lot of fashions from Venice in the late 1500's and early 1600's had very high collars...ummm so did Queen Elizabeth, so just because it's not some people's idea of flattering and they wouldn't wear it, doesn't mean everyone agrees with them. Besides, your work is period inspired, let the costume nazis wallow in their own unhappiness and don't allow them to suck you in. I could show you some paintings from that era that look way more funky than your work.

  9. i think it looks great, i may not be remembering everything right, but isnt that one in those photos the 'Ariel' design of the month thats been up for several months?

    but i do think the issue is money, not everyone is going to be able to afford your fancy ones and since the normal ones look fantastic, most of us normies likely cant justify their purchase.

  10. I have to tell you this dress is just perfect.

  11. Michelle,

    Don't be a sheep. You are leading the pack with fantastic, unique designs. Unfortunately, a lot of people are afraid to be so bold. But don't stop for those who are boring, because your vision is truly inspiring to some of us.

    You have inspired me to pursue my own crazy dreams in starting my own costuming business. Without seeing your wild designs, I may have left mine locked up.


    The Wicked Wench

  12. I think it's fabulous you have so many ideas to choose from, and aren't afraid to experiment! I'm in love with the black/white fabric on this one; I think the collar is a bit much up like that, but that's probably because I have too much hair and it'd get crowded back there. (the collar can fold down though, so that shouldn't be a worry.

    I for one adore your corsets for their creativity. At the Folsom faire I fell in love with your patchwork dress; you mentioned a patchwork corset and I started drooling. I still want (desperately) one of your bustled skirts, although now with these pictures I'm unsure which corset I want to go with it. They're all just so incredibly gorgeous.

    So, just gotta say I for one adore your creativity and hope it doesn't end ANYTIME soon! (and I'm still putting in an order whenever/if-ever you get unbusy again) ;-P

  13. Personally, I love the high collar, but I think I'd have to have shorter hair to pull it off. I love seeing your new designs every year & missed having your booth across from ours in July, because we didn't get to see as many this year. Keep doing what you're doing & making us all look gorgeous, the right person will come along to buy your more unique pieces!

  14. I love your corsets because of your creativity. Honestly I have never really been into corsets until I saw yours. Your corsets inspire a lot of ideas for customs and I would never have purchased one without the unique pieces.

    As for the hooded corsets - I love them! I am going to save my money for a while but eventually I plan to order a hooded corset, even better if you think you could sew a floor length cape on the back to give it sort of a cloak feel. XD

    When I see a unique, artistic corset it makes me want to order a custom, not buy a premade. I also agree with ariel:

    "I say, make your website bodice section have the "normal stuff" and maybe make a special link in there to a custom gallery for the "extreme couture wearers" out there. Put the hoodies, collars, funky ruffles and every other creation you love out there! ALL of them! Someone will be inspired and HAVE to have it so give prices for sure. But it also lets people know that you've got a great imagination and that if they ask you to do something, you'll absolutely be able to follow through."

    Perhaps take your corsets to fantasy, scifi and anime conventions? Particularly conventions that include steampunk? It's always been my impression that people at ren faires were more picky about being historically accurate.

    I love the fact that your corsets are so creative and I would not have ordered if they were like everyone else's. I check your blog and gallery often to see what new design you came up with that I can drool over. =)


  15. I love all your designs.Don't change anything.I bought one of your bodices at the castle of Muskogee.I love it,my husband loves how I look in it.I'm hoping that you will be back in May so I may purchase the Empire Corsair Set.Please don't go to boring.


  16. Definitely don't stop being original and creative (as much for your own sake as for your customers')!!

    I will admit, collars are not my thing, and I think they fall into that category (like hats), where they can look really great, but need to be worn with comfort and confidence. Since most women are NOT used to sporting collars or hats, they seem to shy away from them (even if they shouldn't).

    Your creativity and unique take on the standard designs are what make your work so irresistible! It may be slightly easier to sell a basic bodice, but speaking from a purely business perspective, there are more sellers who offer a basic bodice (and customers can be stupid when it comes to realizing the quality of an item), so I think it's excellent business sense to make designs that stand out like yours do. Even if a customer doesn't buy the collared bodice, it might be what caught their attention and brought them into your shop to buy another one of your designs.

    Ultimately, I would say not to be "boring" or stick to a few basic patterns, but to also understand that many people won't venture into certain areas of fashion for fear that they can't pull them off well, and take that into consideration when designing, if you want to avoid (what must be very frustrating) disappointment.

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  18. Hi Michelle,

    All I can say is, "Yes, please!"

    Your creative designs are really neat. In fact, the reason I ordered the bodice that I did, was because it didn't look like "just a corset" - even though the color is not one I normally would feel confident in. After trying it on tonight, I can tell you confidence ain't going to be a problem! ;)

    I haven't come across corsets that were - a. so unique, b. so affordable, and c. so well made. I'm ever so excited to see what you come up with.

    The patchwork gown that you created made me want to be Cinderella, and I've *never* wanted to be Cinderella.

    So please stay creative!


  19. I think the drama design gets you attention. It is very much like haute couture. Nobody sells their haute couture stuff and yet they are out there every year flaunting unwearable over the top designs, And I don't think yours are (over the top I mean) maybe if you'd just showcase the stuff a bit different it might actually get ordered: as a bridal aragnge ment or with really low riding jeans :D

  20. I would love if you guys came to the MN Ren Fest, it is the second largest in the states, and I think you'd find a good market here! That said, I'm a photographer (www.stulagu.com) and would love to talk to you about a possible photoshoot! Check out my blog to see a recent shoot that is along the lines of what I'd love to do for you. Contact me any time! I love your work!

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  22. Michelle don't ever go into the boring same 4 basic designs. the fact that you offer many options and are always creating more. Please please please share all your ideas with the world!! the more options the better IMO. and like a few other people have already said let your creativity flow PLEASE!
    I've currently got so many ideas for the commission I asked you about recently and once they are all together I can not wait to see what you do with them. keep that creativity flowing and please do share all of it with us!
    your pieces are works of art!!

  23. Michelle-

    I love your creativity, and I would cry if you stopped making fabulously unique bodices.

    Let me agree with a number of things my fellow posters have mentioned - I suspect that money is a big factor. Your garments are in no way overpriced, but money is tight for everyone right now. Even in a more robust economy, women often have trouble having the cash for lots of "play" items. I'm a LARPer and a Ren Faire fan, so I have way more chances to wear your wonderful bodices than most, and I still can't buy as many as I want.

    I do think that your beautiful and unique designs are what bring buyers to your booth and websites. As was mentioned before, there are a lot of places to buy basic bodices. Most of those are far inferior to your bodices, but the novice buyer doesn't know that. Your unusual and striking garments are a good way to draw attention to your wares, even if the attracted customer only buys the basics.

    The next issue is versatility. Since, as we all seem to agree, money is a factor, shoppers are going to want to get the most bang for their buck. A basic Courtier bodice, especially one of the reversible ones, is able to be worn for a lot of different looks, whereas a long peacock tailcoat with a tall collar is more distinctive. As I mentioned, I LARP. I'd love to have one of your sinister looking Peacock Vixens with a high, scary collar the next time I play as an NPC evil sorceress, but I really can't justify the cash for something I'd only wear in character once or twice. I am delighted to buy unique things from you for my player characters, the ones I get to wear again and again. For faires and other wear, though, I want versatility.

    Which brings me to my idea - would it be possible to make detachable collars, hoods, cloaks, etc.? I envision a line of smart-looking buttons on the back of your standard Courtier collar. You could wear the collar "as is", but you could also button on accessories to change up your look. If I could buy a basic bodice, with a set of matching collars - like the Ariel; or a really tall, pointy, boned villainous-looking one; and a pointed hood or gathered hood; etc. I would squeal with happiness. I'd be delighted to pony up more cash for that set as opposed to just a bodice. You would also then have accessories you could sell to your repeat buyers. Maybe all I can afford at one faire is a bodice, but I come back the next year and buy a collar and a hood, and a cloak and a pointed collar the next year. I wouldn't be able to get matching fabrics, but I bet I could get some that contrast or coordinate in a fetching way. What do you think?

    No matter what, I'm enjoying dreaming up my next custom order!

  24. Michelle,
    Please don't stop making your fabulous designs! I'm begging you here. I love all of your things. I know you're tired of hearing it, but if it weren't for lack of available funds, I would be the proud owner of several of your creations. Even if I can't indulge myself and go on a buying frenzy, I love looking at what you're capable of creating. And sometimes seeing one of your designs makes me think...hmm wouldn't that collar look just fabulous on that custom order I've been dreaming about:) So please, please don't conform just because some snooty, unimaginative, mean person dissed your stuff. For every one of them out there, there are twenty more who love everything you do!

  25. It seems from the number of posts that no one thinks you should stop being creative! And I certainly agree, the pirate coat corsets, the corsets with tails, and the ruffley collars are all just divine.

    I will offer a single constructive criticism/logic behind people's reaction to the hoods though. They do seem a little disjointed with the rest of the corset. I've always associated hoods with more substantial and concealing garments. To have it on something sexy and sleeveless feels out of place. Especially when considering that at renn fairs almost everywhere one turns they find cloaks and coats with hoods. Pile that on top of a bodice with a hood - regardless of the pure sex of the bodice - it's going to be a bit much.

    That said, the other innovations are pretty damn awesome. Part of creativity is seeing what actually works, and by golly, some of those *work.*

  26. What ever you do.. DO NOT stop creating uniquely delicious designs. Just because a few individuals at the SCA are staunch traditionalists doesn't mean you should give up on all those who can flaunt your innovative designs like no body's business:-) New things are always hard to implement, but I think in the long run you should just keep pushing ahead. One of the things that attracts me to your designs is your ability to think outside the box. I think it is all fabulous!

  27. I really love the dramatic ultra-high collar. However, I'm not a fan of the wide pinstriping. I tried to get a custom order in but the timing was off and ended up buying one from Ebay. I am a short gal and while the bodice itself was fabulous and I looked great in it, the torso was too long for my stumpy body. The shoulders and neck puffed up a bit too high and the back bloused out a little. But, now I know that for a future (truly) custom order, I should notate my back measurement as well so I can get a fabulous fit both on the hanger and on me. =) Wish I could order all the beautiful garments you make but my husband would kill me. At least I'll have a gorgeous outfit to be buried in!

  28. Please don't give up on your innovative designs!! I love, love, love your pirate ensembles--just don't have the money (times are tight right now you know). I also love the hoods, just not sure how I personally would look in them as I am a slightly older lady--some of my smile lines are turning upside down! LOL Keep creating, never give up :)

  29. Frankly, I've always adored the high collar, high drama corset, but now that I own three of your corsets, I really have to slow down. ;) Most of my pirate friends have been pimped about your corsets, and now I'm moving on to non-pirates with the idea of, "Here is a gorgeous show corset you can wear with a ballgown skirt to formal events." I think you might get really good reception if you did something like a high fashion trunk show or something with your more radical designs. Lots of local boutiques do runway shows a couple of times a year; try organizing to get in with one of them!

    Jessica (of BOOM! :))

  30. You've probably gotten a bizillion responses, but NO - do NOT just stick to the ordinary! If for no other reason than every crafter should make some pieces that take everyone's breath away.

    Besides, I'm not Ren, I'm Goth. We need something with some drama in it :)

    I certainly hope you are advertising in the Goth and Steampunk markets - we're better at Drama than the Ren-folk are (I speak as also a ren-goer). Although Goth stuff should have less gold - you're right there for the steampunk stuff. Also, the Empire is awesome for LARP-ers, so they can have a corset look while being able to do boffer fights.

    I wonder if you can hoop in the Empire Corset. I'm a hoop-dancer, and a corset we could hoop in would be awesome! I'm planning to get an empire corsair soon anyway, so if I can I will let you know and send you pics.

    Also, my favorite is the empire corsair set and the designs you base off of that one, and if you were not dancing to your own drummer, that option would completely not exist. Not to mention I *love* your high collared pirate coat drama stuff!

    (ESPECIALLY the Empire Corsair Pirate Coat. Best of all worlds!)

  31. Girl, I am not kidding you. Your designs are awesome. I love it that you come up with all this new stuff. If I could afford it, I would buy every corset in every color from you. I haven't bought anything yet, but trust me I am loyal to every design I have seen so far... Screw what everyone else thinks. Keep it coming because when I win publishers clearing house(wink wink), you are getting a big a$$ order!

  32. This outfit, if I had the funds at this moment, I would buy and wear on Fridays to strut and scandalize.

  33. I saw a lady today at the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville, FL that had on this AMAZING corset. I literally stopped in my tracks and had to go ask her where she got it. That's when I heard about you! Such gorgeous corsets ... I want them all! Damn being a poor pharmacy tech!

  34. If I had the money and wasn't in the process of losing weight (don't want to buy and not have fit) I'd be extremely tempted to get one like this with the coat tails on it. I think it would be a lovely, long look, and completely stunning. Heck now you've got *me* thinking of variations on this that would probably cost me a fortune! :D