Stella with Actress Dakota Johnson

Stella with Actress Dakota Johnson

Remember that scene in “Gone With the Wind,” one of the first introducing the feisty heroine, Scarlett O’Hara? The vain, spoiled plantation dweller is hanging tightly onto her bedpost, steadying herself as Mammy laces up her corset. “Lace me tighter!” demands Scarlett, wanting to fully show off “the smallest waist in three counties.” Back then, the quest for a small waist was synonymous with a large amount of pain; but Scarlett was a stubborn little renegade who cared more about her tiny waist than any degree of discomfort and would do whatever it took, thereby snagging a man in the process.

Yes, corsets have been around for centuries, actually some 500 years, but the days of holding onto a bedpost and enduring terrific pain in exchange for a shapely form are over. Matter of fact the corset has had a rebirth; and in the process, has gone from being whalebone uncomfortable underclothes to high fashion.

Stella, the talented powerhouse behind Champagne Corsets and Designs know this well. She’s built a successful business creating fashionable corsets and wants to share her talent, knowledge, and fun fashion sense with the world, one corset at a time!

Stella (no last name needed, thank you!) is a highly trained corset maker with a great eye, skilled hands, and never-ending ideas for how to make YOU look good and feel good in a custom designed, hand sewn corset. “I’m fashion forward,” says the petite blonde who has had fashion in her blood “since the 6th grade. I told my whole family that when I graduated I was going to New York to become a fashion designer.” Although most of them nodded and chalked it up to pre-pubescent idealism that would, no doubt, change in a few months, Stella surprised them all. “As soon as I graduated high school in Bristol, Connecticut, I was off to New York!”

A renegade like Scarlett O’Hara? Perhaps. But Scarlett was conniving, and Stella had a well-thought out plan. It began with a thorough education at New York’s famed Fashion Institute of Technology where she was fully immersed in every facet of design and structure in building fashion. “I studied everything…sewing, knitting, tailoring, I even had a course in historical corsetry.”

It was that course that got Stella thinking about designing corsets as a fashion investment, not as a passing trend. “People today want fast fashion; I don’t do that,” says Stella resolutely. What she does do, however, is hand craft beautiful corsets, one at a time, that are meant to be worn on the outside of clothing, with both style and practical applications. Corsets can correct posture, control nagging back pain and muscle tension, help strengthen the core after childbirth or surgery, support heavy breasts, minimize menstrual cramps, help with weight loss; and for many, create that much sought after hourglass shape. Each corset Stella designs is created for the specific needs and wants of her individual client. And are they stylish!

After working 11 years in New York as a fashion design, Stella opened her own corset and lingerie boutique in 2012 in neighboring New Jersey, finding immediate success. But being in the shadow of New York meant being in the shadow of big city prices, so after two and a half years, she hooked and laced up her corsets and returned to her native Connecticut. Stella decide to concentrate on what she knew and loved best: corset making…thus Champagne Corsets & Designs was born.

The designer is quick to point out that she doesn’t sell any “off the rack” items. Everything is custom crafted, and each client undergoes a thorough process. First, specific measurements are taken; if the client is out of state, Stella recommends getting properly measured by a tailor. Once measurements are taken and/or received, she drapes on mannequins, drafts, creates patterns, cuts, and sews a mock-up which can be mailed, if necessary, to out of state clients.

“Next we talk in great detail about the design process. What is the occasion or reason for this corset? Is it to make a fashion statement, dazzle at a wedding, or is there a medical reason?”

Stella does all work herself from construction of the 2-3 layers involved in building a beautiful corset to the separate horsehair lining. All materials come from frequent trips to New York since eleven years in the trade taught her exactly where to shop for the best materials in the fashion district.

Most corsets take 6-8 weeks to properly build for the individual and can include multiple fittings until it’s exactly right for the client’s body. After the fittings – and only then – does Stella cut the fabric and begins the painstaking process of creating high fashion. Colors, lace, accoutrements are all chosen by the client and individually stitched to the corset. “I am a perfectionist,” Stella relates. “Everything has to be just so.”

Education is as much a part of the process as the corset itself. Therefore Stella’s website is constantly changing and was not created merely “to sell.” It grabs the attention, dissolves the myths and old wives tales surrounding corsets, and talks about the many benefits that wearing a corset can give. Perhaps best of all is the glossary of terms provided, so potential clients can become fully informed about the product, the process, and the positive effects on the body.

“It’s more than just the physical benefits of better posture, body sculpting, waist cinching, and back pain relief. When you wear one of my bespoke corsets, you are making a statement. I see women come alive and become empowered as soon as they put it on. It raises the confidence level while it whittles the waist.”

Men as well as women nationwide have become Stella’s customers for the numerous medical benefits a corset affords. Her boundaries extend far beyond Connecticut. “I go to the client, so I will go anywhere: Connecticut, the Tri-State area, the world,” the talented corset maker says.

Indeed, Champagne Corsets & Designs has no competition in Connecticut – absolutely none. There are a few corset makers scattered throughout the country, the most being in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but competition is but one of her goals. Stella has many, one of which is to get into the costuming end of show business. With theatres, repertory companies, and Broadway in her veritable backyard, she hopes to make a significant dent in this market behind the bright lights.

Long term goals are many, and Stella actively works toward them. She is on the cutting-edge of fashion as it changes and evolves, she yearns to one day have an entire design team working with her, and most of all to get the message out: corsets are no longer a Victorian contraption. They are beautiful, fun, fashionable, never wear out, and help immeasurably to alleviate pain and improve posture while empowering the wearer.

Too bad Scarlett never knew.

See what a beautifully crafted corset can do for you at Champagne Corsets & Designs, LLC

Contact Stella directly at: (917) 524-9908

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