Artist you should knowArts and CultureNewsPerformer you should knowSF Bay Area

Masterful Designs by Dark Garden Corsetry Debuting at Edwardian Ball

The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news

It’s that time of year again when San Francisco’s iconic Edwardian Ball is right around the corner. Whimsical, elegant, romantic, kinky, silly, or avant-garde, Edwardian Ball costumes highlight two of the best parts about San Francisco – its rebellion and creativity when it comes to self-expression. While photos of the ball may show you the most outlandish and over-the-top outfits, there is actually no required dress code. They only ask that you express yourself in some way or another by dressing up.

Image via Dark Garden Corsetry – by John Carey of Edwardian Ball collection RoseCoco 2017 (Kat Robichaud in black)

Edwardian Style for All

You’ll find over-the-top costumes at Edwardian Ball and performances that celebrate the delightfully eccentric parts of San Francisco.

There is one particular piece of attire that can be seen on both the stage and the costumes of guests – form-fitting corsets in every style. For 16 years, San Francisco’s bespoke corsetry shop, Dark Garden Corsetry, has been a featured performer in addition to designing an exclusive collection of handmade corsets for performers and attendees for The Edwardian Ball.

Photo by Daisy Rose Coby – Memento Moda Daniel wears a Jacob corset and Morse trousers. Autumn Adamme wears a Risqué Underbust Victorian over a black velvet Simone dress.

I spoke with Founder, Lead Designer, and Master Fitter of Dark Garden Corsetry, Autumn Adamme,  who told me about what goes on behind the scenes while they design their Edwardian Ball Collection:

“Nearly every year we release one new collection, which we debut in a stage show at The annual Edwardian Ball in San Francisco. For months before creation begins, we three designers and our production manager Shelby Pujol meet to design a cohesive look for the collection, and then decide on models. From there we draft patterns, source fabrics, create prototypes, do fittings, perfect the patterns, do more fittings, then begin cutting and sewing the garments.

The production of the garments and accessories that we show is only the beginning. We coordinate fitting and rehearsal time with performers and models, meet with makeup and hair artists, photographers, our choreographer, the event staff of the Ball, lighting designer, sound engineer, stage managers, and dressers, not to mention our own production staff and content creators.”
– Autumn

The collection they design for and debut at Edwardian Ball each year costs more than $15,000 in supplies, labor and time away from regular sales. They coordinated a GoFundMe to help offset the cost of the Edwardian Ball Collection.

New Orleans Vampire Ball 2022 featuring Dark Garden corsets – Photo: Mateo & Co. @mateoandcompany

Dark Garden’s highlights that corsetry can be inclusive

You may think of corsets as being just historically used as an undergarment that highlighted traditionally feminine features such as smaller waists. Now, you can find corsets worn on the outside of your clothes to highlight more than just a small waist. They highlight self-expression. According to the staff at Dark Garden, the most common comment when someone sees themselves in one of their corsets is, “OMG, look at me!”

The feeling of combined happiness and elated surprise when a person sees themselves for the very first time in a corset is equal parts the masterfully designed corset and the fact that you can see yourself in a way that makes you feel more self-assured, confident, and sexy. The beautiful colors in gorgeous fabrics and the attention to detail that Dark Garden heirloom-quality corsets are expertly made makes you feel special when you wear them because they are each so special themselves.

Dark Garden Invocation 2018 collection by Dark Garden corsetry. Models: Nicole Simone, Serafina, Lindsay Ferguson, Alotta Boutté, Nina Sawant, Carolina Leon, Carynn Milne. Photo © Joel Aron

A while back, I went to the shop for a boudoir photoshoot with my friend. I’m a pretty average body type and hadn’t ever worn a corset before then. I thought I’d feel out of place in some way. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The staff worked to find me a look that highlighted the parts of me that I felt the most confident about. They showed me that corsets aren’t just about highlighting a small waist. They are meant to make us all feel beautiful in our bodies no matter who we are.

Heirloom-Quality Corsets which celebrate every body

Dark Garden corsets fit within nearly every subculture within San Francisco.

Whether you’re looking for a costume to wear to the Renaissance Faire, Dickens Faire, Edwardian Ball, looking to impress people at your wedding, or are a prominent member of the kink or fetish community… these masterfully made corsets are covetable and beautifully styled to fit all.

Corsets & ensembles by Dark Garden. Hats by Kalico Delafay. Photo © Loic Nicolas. Models: Miss If N’ Whendy, Ashton Miyako, Lex Lima, Cat Mitchell, James Alvarez, Jamie Young, Stefani Pelletier, Lindsay Ferguson.

Thinking back to when I went to Dark Garden for that photoshoot, I can say that the way Autumn and her staff made me feel that wearing a corset and feeling confident in yourself is not for one body type over another. They believe that their work is for every type of body, every gender and every type of person. They specifically work to be “radically inclusive” in their designs and focus on quality and encouraging self-expression.

Photo via Dark Garden – Photo by Max Johnson

Dark Garden founder Autumn is passionate about helping others feel good in their bodies when they wear a Dark Garden corset.

“When I was a teenager I worked in several specialty retail businesses, and I witnessed how out of touch each business’ corporate headquarters was with their customer base. I experienced  customers’ frustration and emotional pain firsthand. People often shop not simply to fill a hole in their wardrobe, but frequently in an attempt to feel better emotionally about their physical appearance. Many people have experienced extensive cultural wounding from the “ideal” body types put forth by all kinds of media. Clothing that doesn’t fit or flatter can spark an emotional spiral.

While I knew I wanted to work in fashion, I also knew I didn’t want to be part of a system so ecologically and psychologically out of touch with the world. I felt certain that there was a better way to serve the consumer and environment, so I went to school to study fashion and fashion history. This led me to corsetry, which I felt was the best way to effect my brand of radical inclusiveness.”
– Autumn

Dark Garden is a legacy business making bespoke heirloom-quality corsets exclusively in San Francisco since 1989

It makes sense that Dark Garden would be part of Edwardian Ball for as long as it has been (16 years so far). Edwardian style aside, both are San Francisco institutions and they both celebrate self-expression.

Dark Garden Corsetry with Mystic Midway. Model: Frankie Fictitious. © John Carey

Autumn has been creating gorgeous corsetry exclusively in San Francisco for decades. She’s proud of San Francisco and loves its rebellious side. She’s seen so much change since she opened her business in 1989 but still sees San Francisco keeping some of what makes it such a special place. She feels that she may not have been able to have this type of business anywhere else.

She has created a team of expert corset makers that create her world-renowned bespoke designs – all of whom have been trained under Autumn herself. Their collections are size inclusive, style inclusive, and they have worked hard to be accessible with off-the-rack heirloom-quality corsets for the most price-conscious. Soon, they will be debuting a collection which will fit anyone up to a 60″ natural waist.

Photo by Daisy Rose Coby – Memento Moda

Get Styled by Dark Garden Corsetry Masters This Weekend:

This weekend, Dark Garden is hosting their annual Edwardian Ball styling party at their shop in Hayes Valley.
While they will be focused on the upcoming ball, this event would be perfect for anyone who has an upcoming event that you’d like to look fancy at.

Some of their favorite small local businesses will be there as well which include:

RSVP for the event here

Dark Garden Photo by Daisy Rose Coby – Memento Moda

Find Dark Garden In-Person and Online:

You can be expertly fit by one of the Dark Garden corset makers by appointment any time and can support Dark Garden online here:
Website: Dark Garden Corsetry
Instagram: @DarkGardenCorsetry
TikTok: @DarkGardenCorsetry
Facebook: Dark Garden Unique Corsetry
Their Blog – which outlines stories about corset history and style

Address & Contact Information:
Dark Garden with Revelation in Fit
321 Linden St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-431-7684 (call)

All images are property of Dark Garden unless otherwise marked

This artist interview was brought to you by the find folks of The Edwardian Ball!  And they’re giving away sets of tickets to the Friday Feb 3, extravaganza!!!

Win tickets to Friday Night at The Edwardian Ball by entering our ticket giveaway here!

OR visit their site all ball information!

Previous post

SF Woman's Death Highlights Dangers of Eucalyptus

Next post

SF's Newest Theater Opened With The Amazing Neo-Futurists!

Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy has lived in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.