I knew I wanted a unique wedding dress, but didn't know exactly what I was looking for. I came across Dark Garden on the Offbeat Bride Tribe and looked through their photo gallery of other wedding ensembles they had made. I found something inspiring there and decided that I wanted a dress similar to it.
I first visited Dark Garden about 9 months before our wedding to discuss what I wanted. I brought pictures and talked about what I wanted and they sketched something for me which looked perfect. I returned to Dark Garden about 6 months before the wedding to get measurements taken. The ensemble (a corset with a separate skirt) was made to fit me. I returned for a mock-up fitting and another time for placement of the vine-like trim on the dress. When I went to pick the dress up, I had lost some weight and the trim needed to be altered slightly for the top and bottom to match. Kali was able to make the changes overnight.
The staff at Dark Garden is amazing. Autumn and Kali were so helpful and supportive throughout the entire process. They had wonderful suggestions and I trusted them to bring my idea to life in the best way possible. Their work exceeded my expectations. I couldn't be more pleased with my ensemble. I was not accustomed to wearing a corset, but it was so comfortable, I could have worn it even longer!
This was the first time I have had any clothing custom-made for me and I was also surprised at how reasonable it was for a wedding dress. I tried on some other dresses to get an idea of what I liked and my Dark Garden corset + skirt was less expensive than most of the dresses I tried on.
I highly recommend Dark Garden for ANY custom corset needs (although they do have ready to wear ones as well), but especially for a unique wedding outfit.
Dark Gardens does very beautiful work. They semi-customized my wedding dress top and made it a perfect match in fabric and color to a skirt I had found. We met early on to discuss what I wanted, and they really helped me choose a beautiful design. They do not upsell at all, in fact what they recommended ended up more affordable than I had initially wanted. They helped me design something unique and within my budget and timeframe. This is custom work! So it's not cheap at all. BUT, it is a way better deal than a designer off-the-rack dress. It's a special day. Have something made specially! They have a wide range of styles, way more than other corsetieres (is that word?), mostly Victorian-style, and a very wide range of gorgeous fabrics. It will be hard to resist buying something extra, especially for the post-wedding festivities...
Open Sundays – Tuesdays 11am to 5pm and Wednesdays – Saturdays 11am to 7pm
“I’ve Never Felt More Beautiful than in a Dark Garden Corset” •Amy R.
Dark Garden, located in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, creates beautiful ready-to-wear and custom corsets and clothing for both women and men. Using the finest fabrics, Dark Garden’s amazingly talented craftspeople skillfully build each corset and couture garment. Dark Garden’s designs range from:
• traditional designs to alterna-bridal options for bride and groom,
• silky prom gowns to leather club wear,
• couture evening attire to tailored business ensembles, and
• steam-punk fantasy to historically-accurate, museum-quality costuming.
In addition to its stunning array of designs, the construction and pattern drafting techniques are also unique to Dark Garden. Unlike most other off-the-rack corset makers, the sizes and shapes of the Dark Garden ready-to-wear or made-to-order corset patterns are based on an average of thousands of custom clients, rather than dress forms. This means Dark Garden corsets are made for real flesh-and-blood people and are as comfortable as they are beautiful.
Autumn Adamme established Dark Garden in 1989. She fulfills her customers’ dreams of owning stunning, custom-designed, handcrafted corsets made from the finest materials.
Autumn’s vision and leadership have brought her company to the forefront of the world’s corset market.
Her gowns and corsets can be seen on the red carpets of Hollywood on Christina Aguilera and Dita Von Teese, throughout San Francisco’s post-modern cabaret nightlife, on countless alternative and traditional brides not only in San Francisco but also in Europe and elsewhere in the United States.
In 1994, the store and workshop moved to the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Autumn and Dark Garden take pride in contributing to the community of the San Francisco Bay Area by currently employing over two-dozen local people as cutters, stitchers, fitters and production coordinators. All work—from design concept through to garment completion—is done at the Hayes Valley shop.
To learn more, visit Dark Garden online.
A custom Le Jardin ensemble (a corset and skirt) generally runs from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the complexity of the design, the fabrics, and degree of embellishments. Full historical ensembles usually run in the range of $3,000 to $6,000. We are happy to work with you to design an ensemble that creates the look you desire while staying in your budget parameters.
I am looking for a corset to wear underneath a gown I already have. How does that work?
Le Jardin specializes in creating foundation corsets that you can wear underneath almost any gown. Under our Dark Garden label, we create foundation corsets that provide elegant waist shaping and better bust support than you can get from a bra or bustier. Since many bridal gowns have strapless necklines and dip in the back, we’ll need to have some visual reference of the dress you plan to wear so we can make sure the corset works with the lines of the gown. Ideally, you’d bring your gown to a consultation appointment so you can try on the dress with a sample foundation corset.
IMPORTANT: You’ll need to have your corset before final alterations are made on your gown because the corset can dramatically sculpt and change your torso shape. We’re happy to coordinate a fitting schedule accordingly.
What happens at Le Jardin Design Consultation?
You’ll emerge with an original Le Jardin couture bridal sketch in-hand, fabric swatches to contemplate, a schedule/timeline working back from your wedding day, and a wholly inspired vision of your special day to share with your family and friends! Some of the details we’ll discuss to determine your ideal design:
* Which silhouettes best flatter your figure
* Modest vs. flaunt-it necklines
* The best skirt line: straight, full, or flared
* Historical or modern
* Colors, sheens, and textures
* Favorite fabrics and patterns
* Luxurious laces, trims and embellishments
* Future mother-in-laws and much more!
And no fretting! Certain cuts and styles can emphasize your best assets while hiding your perceived problem areas. We’ll make sure you look and feel nothing short of stunning with a design that’s perfectly YOU. To schedule your private Le Jardin Design Consultation, call (415) 431-7684.
I have an antique gown I want replicated—can you copy it or integrate it into the design?
We are happy to replicate a dress and can give you a price estimate. Ideally, we would either need the garment itself to base the pattern on, or photographs of the garment from multiple views. At your Le Jardin Design Consultation, you can review the dress with members of the design team to discuss what details you like, as well as review fabric samples. We can then make recommendations on style and suggestions on how you might integrate a bridal corset into the design, if that is something that interests you. We can also work with vintage dresses if you want to use pieces, fabrics, or lace from an heirloom gown. We are happy to assess the gown at your consultation and make recommendations on how we could best integrate it into your custom design.
Couture sounds expensive… Isn’t it cheaper to buy from a bridal boutique?
Buying couture is probably a lot less expensive than you think and a much better investment. Buying off-the-rack is probably much more costly than you realize. Once you factor in all the hidden costs, even the lowest-priced dress in a bridal boutique could end up being the most expensive one. For example, if alterations are not included (and most of the time, they’re not), a hem here (times two if your skirt is lined) and a “take in” there could quickly add hundreds of dollars to your grand total. Many brides are horrified to learn of the additional costs that accrue along the way when working with a traditional bridal boutique (steaming, ironing, dress storage, etc.!).
Buying couture, on the other hand, means you put your money towards getting the exactly the dress of your dreams from the get-go rather than altering one to fit you (and taking so long to do it). Le Jardin designs are made to fit your form—not a dress form—so you get a better fit (the best), the most flattering line, and the most comfortable garment for your big day. You deserve nothing less—and certainly shouldn’t have to pay a lot more to have it!
This will be a one-of-a-kind creation especially for you, so together we’ll find the neckline you love, the fabric that feels good, the color that most flatters, the sleeves that make sense, and jointly decide on all details that will ensure you are your most gorgeous, unforgettable self on your wedding day. And all within your budget.
And here’s a funny anecdote we often hear at Le Jardin: While most brides easily spend up to $3,000 on a dress they’ll never wear again, we’ve learned that most Le Jardin brides end up saving money by finding reasons to put theirs on again… and again! Our corsets and skirts are separate pieces that can be worn for many special occasions—Black & White Balls, costume parties, charity events, etc. (And shhhh… Don’t tell your boss, but our Dark Garden corsets add beautiful shape when worn under a suit jacket—yeow!)
I’m just looking for a corset. How much would that be?
A Le Jardin/Dark Garden custom corset ranges in price from $600-$850, depending on style, fabrics, embellishments, and accessories, including a modesty panel, detachable garters, etc. We also offer ready-to-wear corsets made from pre-existing patterns that range in price from $300-$450. We have a large number of gorgeous bridal silks and brocades at our San Francisco location, Dark Garden, which will create an exquisite wedding corset in any style. We can also special order fabrics to get the perfect color and finish.
I’m excited! What’s required to start an order?
If you are local to the San Francisco Bay Area, we recommend you e-mail email@example.com or call us at (415) 431-7684 to schedule a Le Jardin Design Consultation with members of our design team, during which we discuss your ideas, take your measurements and give you an estimate.
If you’re not local, we offer phone consultations with our design team. Call us toll free at (877) 431-7684, Mon. – Sat. from 1 pm – 7 pm PST and we’ll schedule a time and discuss the mail-order bridal ensemble process.
Once I place my order, is a deposit required?
For bridal ensemble orders, we require a 30% deposit based on the original estimate (usually around $700). For custom corset orders, we require a 50% deposit based on the price of the corset style you choose.
How long does it take to make a custom Le Jardin corset/ensemble?
About 8 – 10 weeks. However, it’s never too early to start the process! As a general rule, we start bridal orders four months in advance of the wedding date. This gives us three months to produce the garments with your final fitting approximately one month from the ceremony. That way, we have some flexibility in case any last-minute adjustments or alterations are required. And it saves stress and anxiety for all!
What if I don’t live near San Francisco? Can I still work with you?
Absolutely. Le Jardin has worked with hundreds of satisfied customers, both stateside and overseas. We are happy to complete custom bridal corset and ensemble orders through the mail. Here’s how it works: First, to ensure a timely delivery, you must schedule a phone consultation with members of the Le Jardin design team a minimum of five months before the date of your wedding. Call us at (415) 431-7684 or toll free at (877) 431-7684, Sundays to Tuesdays from 11am–5pm PST and Wednesdays to Saturdays 11am–7pm and we’ll schedule a time to discuss your ideas and give you an estimate.
Once we have your measurements (Don’t worry, we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on exactly which measurements we need and exactly how to take them.), we’ll draft custom pattern to your proportions in the styles requested and create muslin prototypes (mock-ups) that we’ll send to you for a fitting.
Included with the muslin mock-ups are instructions detailing how to put them on, a list of photographs to be taken (so we can assess fit), and a “Fit Questionnaire” to help you give us your feedback and communicate the relevant details. Once you return the mock-ups, photographs, and completed “Fit Questionnaire,” we assess the materials and make the necessary pattern revisions. We will also include fabric swatches in the colors, fabrics, and prints that interest you—to give you plenty of choices to create exactly the look you want.
Only then do we cut and stitch your final garment(s). As soon as your balance is paid, the finished garment ships—ideally one month before your ceremony.
NOTE: Corsets with fitted, non-adjustable straps require a final strap fitting at our San Francisco location to pin the straps in exactly the right place on the body. Unfortunately, we cannot offer finished set straps as an option through the mail.
I’m full-figured/short-waisted/ultra-petite/flat-chested etc… Can you still work with me?
Of course and we’ll love you even more for it! Le Jardin prides itself on designing absolutely gorgeous couture bridal wear for every body type, shape and size. Because every body is unique, it’s nearly impossible to find a good fit from any off-the-rack design which is sized for a dress form rather than a realistic human form. But since every Le Jardin corset and ensemble is custom-created for you and only you, it will flatter your already perfect proportions.
Can I use my own fabrics?
You are welcome to source and provide your own materials, however, we’d need to see a swatch of the material to make sure it is suitable for your design. While most brocades are fine, occasionally we come across a silk that is too light or too heavy.
It's so stressful being a bride!
Autumn has both worked with brides for over 17 years, so rest assured, we understand brides and the stresses that come with being one. Le Jardin production manager will work closely with you to discuss your budget and timeframe to create a fitting and payment schedule that ensures your gown is ready in plenty of time before your big day. She’ll be part therapist, part fairy godmother, and will make sure everything is absolutely perfect.