Photos: Where the Dark Art of Custom Corsets Lives On

Categories: SF Oddities

By Peter Jamison

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This woman wants to sell you a corset.

Autumn Adamme, pictured above, is the owner of Dark Garden, a corset shop on Linden Street in Hayes Valley. These days, corsetry of the kind practiced at Dark Garden is a lost art. In fact, Daphne Merkin, writing in T Magazine, the glossy Sunday style rag of the New York Times, recently lamented the absence of girdles and other forms of ironclad undergarments from lingerie shops in Manhattan.

Adamme, after reading the piece, wrote a letter to the editor. "I just wanted to say, 'You're on the wrong coast,'" she said during an interview at her store. Adamme, 37, has been doing business in Hayes Valley for the past 14 years. Her childhood fascination with period costumes eventually led her to focus on the corset - that monument to coerced curvature which went out of fashion sometime in the early twentieth century, and, by all indications, has not been sorely missed.

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"I was really fascinated that you can sculpt the human body from outside, as well as inside," Adamme said. "If you look at the history of clothing, 'corsets' have moved from the outside to the inside. Now people go to the gym; they sculpt their bodies from the inside."

Not all. Adamme says her store still does business with customers from around the world, selling both ready-to-wear and tailored corsets to everyone from costume hunters to women who want to tighten up around the waist for a high school reunion. Take a look...

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How fetishes are born.

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Anyone else remember the ghoulish wedding scene from the end of Beetle Juice?

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Nice...

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And naughty. Maybe it is high time for the corset to make a comeback.

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