As a kid, playing dress-up with my mom’s old clothes was my favorite playtime. I wafted about, pretending to be whichever magical Princess I had most recently read about. As I grew up the impulse to dress up didn’t diminish, in fact, it may have intensified! That interest grew into the creation of Dark Garden Unique Corsetry in 1989, a San Francisco based business currently employing 12 talented and very skilled individuals: designers, cutters, stitchers, stylists and finishers, all dedicated to helping everyone we come into contact with to feel more beautiful.
Beyond feeling beautiful and desirable when wearing a corset is the desire to have something to show other people how fantastic we looked in the corset - out come the cameras, the phones, the Facebook and Twitter uploads - but there’s SO much more than a quick snapshot in a dressing room to be had.
Remember those Old Timey photo booths at tourist attractions? I grew up in Santa Cruz, and I loved looking at the pictures in the window of the photo booth on The Boardwalk. They were a quick ticket to an era gone by, fun to do and fun to revisit every time someone commented on the photograph.
The Dark Garden Corsetry Boudoir Photography experience is all about that, stepping back into a time when ladies had assistance getting dressed and the daily experience was rather more elegant. Wouldn’t you or someone you love, like to experience this? A brief moment laced up like a Victorian Lady, perhaps a "Lady" of a different sort, Can-Can dancer, or Pin-up Queen, beautifully photographed and documented for posterity, how much fun is that?
We offer the Corset Boudoir Photography experience several times a year at our boutique in San Francisco - each time we focus on a specific theme - coming up in February we'll be doing our "Romance Novel Cover Shoot" complete with a male model who will put Fabio to shame.
The other place we offer this experience is at the magical Victorian holiday party that is The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, full immersion into a cleaner, better smelling Victorian London. Holiday cheer in the form of Christmas Carols, cinnamon toasted almonds, warm Cider and a wide variety of costumed characters from the pages of the novels of Charles Dickens roam the streets. Our photo parlour is a great way to take a piece of that experience home with you - we dress you up, usher you into our beautifully appointed photo studio, take photos and even send one home with you.
Where do you come in?
We need fresh corsets, gloves, fans, shawls and slippers, a luxurious chaise lounge (we broke the last one!), some training time for our friendly and helpful stylists and photographers as well as additional wardrobe for the gents. We think our gentlemen deserve to be photographed in finery as luxurious as our ladies, who get to wear the most beautiful and comfortable corsets and underpinnings around. We’re also working with a very skilled dressmaker, Jane Xavier Dougherty to make some really delicious peignoirs (that means really fancy, pretty robes) so the experience is nothing short of decadent.
We open at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair the day after Thanksgiving. We’ve got a whole lot to do before then. Not only do we need to create or source all of the garments (more than 100!) that we’ll be using at the booth, but we also build our environment from the ground up, walls and all, complete with three dressing rooms, the Parlor and the photo studio itself. Your support will make it possible to hire some additional people to help our modest and dedicated staff make all of this happen and reward our hardworking regular folks for the extra hours they’ll be putting in. Kickstarter funds will go toward buying materials and above all, paying for the labor for the corsets made in the San Francisco atelier, and our other accessories made by local crafts people. The greater the support- the more luxurious things we can add to the studio at the Fair, the better the experience we can offer, the further the magic of beauty and glamor reaches.
Risks and challenges
We're already committed to opening on November 23rd. It's a bit daunting right now, knowing how much work is ahead of us.
We've chosen the fabrics for corsets, carefully looked at the sizes we need the most variety in and are looking at diving into the production of them in the next few days.
Our core team of five already have pretty full time work going on, so this is all going to be in addition to the hours we're already putting in - but we've all done this before. This is both reassuring and a little scary because we really DO know just how much work it's going to be.
We've got most of our support staff chosen and have training sessions on the calendar - it's really exciting to be working with such fun people.
Our experienced crew have given us lots of feedback about the things that were missing last year and how they'd like things to be better...a new chaise is a big part of the equation, as are some new corsets in the upper ranks of our size range. We all like our clients to feel great in their corsets, no matter what their bust/waist/hip ratio may be, so some additional variety is required.
We've got a new pattern designed and are making a prototype this week to test the theory. After it's been fitted and perfected it'll go into production, we're planning to have corsets that will fit up to a natural 50" waist.
Some of these plans and dreams might remain plans and dreams this year. However, with this support, we have the opportunity to come even closer to the luxurious and nurturing experience we envisioned at the start. We have an incredible team that only gets to work together at events like this, so we'll all be pulling together towards a common goal which makes every challenge much more achievable and even fun.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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