The Kentucky Museum hosted “Modern Corsetry”, an event focusing on Alisha Martin, founder of Bad Button custom corsets, Thursday, April 14.
The event chronicled Martin’s life as she began making corsets and delved into the interesting history of the garment.
As the daughter of a seamstress, Martin’s love for corsetry began at a very young age. Growing up, she was able to visit museums in Europe, and her fascination grew from there.
Martin is a graduate of WKU, where she studied in the Folk Studies program, with a focus on historic preservation. After working for the state in the Folklife program, her husband’s encouragement led Martin to start her own corset-making business in 2010.
We tried to make our clothes look like our bodies. I bet body dysmorphia has been around forever, but being told that our bodies are guilty of not looking a particular way probably upped that a bit.
According to Martin, corsetry began to go out of style around the time of World War I. Since the corsets were made of steel, a material required by the war effort, the production of corsets was discontinued.
According to Martin, the four ways most people wear corsets today are for dressmaking, casual wear, for medical purposes, and for costume.
“What I love is my sewing,” Martin said. “I like to collect.”
Martin’s collections include ‘Versailles’, ‘Birds of Paradise/Birds of Prey’, ‘Venetian Carnival’ and ‘Mythology’.
Martin said the most popular form of corsets she makes are for casual wear.
Martin also makes corsets for medical support. His clients include an emergency room nurse, someone with scoliosis, and people who want the weight of their chest to be redistributed throughout their torso.
Martin begins the corset process by taking measurements and creating a model of the corset for his client to try out. Martin will take up to 29 measurements for a single corset.
Martin allowed the public to circulate the materials she uses, such as spiral steel, spring steel, and buses.
Speaking about her ‘Mythology’ collection, Martin said corsets are something every body type can appreciate.
“One of the things I hear a lot is ‘I’m too tall or too short to wear a corset,'” Martin said. “Corsets are for everyone.”
At the end of the event, Martin discussed his views on today’s societal norms, specifically how too much pressure is placed on people to make their bodies look specific.
“Historically, we’ve had ideas about what fashion is, but we’ve never tried to get our bodies to do that,” Martin said. “We tried to make our clothes look like our bodies. I bet body dysmorphia has been around forever, but being told that our bodies are guilty of not looking a particular way probably upped that a bit.
To learn more about Martin and corsetry as a whole, visit Bad Button custom corsets.
News reporter Madison Carter can be reached at [email protected] topper.wku.edu.