Age: Timeless, born in the month of love: February
Provenance: Calgary, Canada
How long have you lived in Vancouver? I arrived in Vancouver in 1992 and love to call this place home.
Occupations: My first job was working at Laura Secord selling chocolates and ice cream, followed by odd jobs to save money so I could travel to Europe and ‘find myself.’ On my return I moved to Vancouver and followed my dream to study fashion at Kwantlen College. I won an award for creative styling on my final collection of historic bridal gowns, which included an 18th century corset. Although I knew I wanted to start my own business, I decided to obtain some industry experience. I worked for local clothing companies such as Norco and Please Mum. In 2003 I started Lace Embrace Atelier, which specializes in reproductions of antique corsets inspired by my own private corset collection. My clients are from all walks of life: burlesque dancers, actresses, brides and historical fashionistas. Some highlights have been making a corseted wedding gown in Chantilly lace and crystals, teaching a deaf woman to lace herself into one of my corsets while she reads my lips and helping a beautiful young woman in a wheelchair put on her first corset. Film and TV also provides Lace Embrace Atelier with exciting opportunities, and we have created custom-designed corsets and costumes for various productions.
Passions and Interests: My antique corset collection has grown into one of the largest collections in the world, so it is a huge passion for me. Touching and seeing an antique corset inspired me to dedicate my life to the art of corsetry, a skill that is nearly obsolete today. I am very close to realizing my dream of opening an antique corset museum so that my collection can be shared with the public. Last year I was invited to share my collection with the Louvre Museum in Paris in an exhibition named “Mechanics of Underwear.” During the exhibit I lived in the Montmartre district of Paris and spent my days searching for antique corsets to add to my collection.
What do people know you for? Corsets, corsets, corsets, vintage clothing, my atelier Lace Embrace, my love of pretty things, my T-Bird and my little dog Bella.
Thoughts on Vancouver? It is a special treasure; a stunning city filled with nature and surrounded by magnificent mountains, forests and ocean. I love living near the ocean, smelling the sweet scent of spring, walking barefoot in the soft grass, picnics on the beach and riding my vintage cruiser bicycle. It saddens me that Vancouver doesn’t value its heritage and older buildings, which have been replaced by high-rise glass towers. The cost of real estate is extraordinary. We are known for rain, but I know the sun always shines here.
I met Melanie at a corset soiree, where my ill-fitting corset drew her attention. Over the years I have had the opportunity to see her antique corsets up close and enjoyed wearing many of her designs. This portrait was taken at Hycroft, a magnificent Edwardian mansion in Vancouver. Melanie is wearing a Lace Embrace Delilah corset in black with red dots, hand embroidered with flowers, worn with a black camisole, vintage petticoats and reproduction boots from Paris. The hat and ribbon choker are by Vancouver costume designer Debbie Wiecke.