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Corset company launches in Frog Hollow

MIDDLEBURY — Artist Anjanette Lemak had tried her hand in numerous mediums, including photography, sculpting, fashion and jewelry design. Faced with some major life changes, she decided early this year to pick an artistic pursuit in which she hoped to carve out a livelihood: Creating fine jewelry.
But fate — in this case a February snowboarding accident in which she sustained a broken wrist — would steer her into a new, very specialized realm: Making corsets. And we’re not talking about great-great-grandma’s Victorian-era corset designed to be worn under the dress to truss up the flesh and force good posture. Lemak makes high-end, custom corsets for day and evening wear worn out where everyone can see them — garments designed to make a powerful fashion statement while on the town, at a wedding or during other special occasions.
“There are people who wear corsets for waist training, but my (focus) is making beautiful garments,” Lemak said on Monday as she continued to add flourishes to her newly opened Quiver Corset Co. store at 2 Frog Hollow Alley in Middlebury.
Lemak, 41, opens her doors with a solid background in the fashion industry.
In 1999, she went to work for The DiSanto Group in Cleveland, an advertising specialty company that did its own silk-screen and embroidery work on the premises. Lemak moved to Vermont in 2001 to take an assistant design position with Dia Knitwear. There, she learned how to operate a knitting machine and the software used to design patterns. She quickly began drafting complete collections for approval by the owner, Dia Jenks.
Lemak’s resume also includes stints with Danforth Pewter in Middlebury; Baobei in New York; The Turtle Fur Company in Morrisville; and Icelandic Design in Colorado.
When it became clear that her wrist injury would prevent her from making jewelry, Lemak naturally gravitated toward corsetry.
“Corsetry just sort of grew out of a bunch of research I had been doing for fashion anyway; I had a whole folder of corset designs that I had been looking at, just because the detail is so exquisite and I loved it,” Lemak, a former Ripton resident who now lives in Rochester, said. “It was the best blend of high-end fashion and high detail, which is what jewelry design is.”
She got to work designing her corsets and developed a working relationship with a very talented Middlebury seamstress, Elizabeth Blodgett, to take her concepts from paper to fabric. Some of her creations were modeled last month at the STRUT! Fashion Show at the South End Arts and Business Association (SEABA) Art Hop in Burlington.
The positive feedback gave her extra encouragement to open her store space in downtown Middlebury, where she invites women to come in, check out her wares, and be measured for a corset. Each corset provides a palette upon which Lemak — in consultation with the client — can blend embroidered silk, faux suede, lace, satin ribbons, French lace, feathers and other adornments to give the garment a custom “wow” factor.
All of Lemak’s corsets are lined with coutil, a sturdy cotton fabric that inhibits penetration of the corset’s bones and resists stretching.
“They are designed to last,” Lemak said of her corsets, which take around four to six weeks from design to completion and can run anywhere from $1,200 to $2,500.
For those not interested in corsets, the store offers other clothing and craft items at different price points. Customers will find lingerie imported from France and Japan, and soon from Italy. Lemak has scoured second-hand clothing shops for an assortment of fetching skirts that she said can be handsomely paired with corsets.
The store shelves are stocked with pottery creations from Tom Homann of East Middlebury. Samples of Lemak’s jewelry, photography and woodcraft creations are also available for sale. Among them — miniature wooden dressmaker forms, carved out of solid spalted maple. Each form stands on soldered cage work, with a vintage looking patina. Some of Lemak’s craft creations date back several years, before she imagined she would run her own store.
“All of these things I created 20 years ago make sense in this space,” Lemak said with a smile.
Quiver Corset Co. is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and by appointment. Lemak hopes groups of women will make appointments for fittings, to check out the store’s offerings and to socialize.
“It’s a nice, relaxing time, almost like going to a spa,” Lemak said.
She knows that some women will seek out her wares with the idea of adding an extra spark to their relationships. But Lemak hopes her clients shop with themselves at the top of the list.
“I am more interested in women knowing they are beautiful regardless of their size,” Lemak said.
“When you feel beautiful from within, it radiates out.”
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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