by MIKE CHAIKEN
Kiss Designs sat squarely at the entrance to the recent Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret at the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, Conn.
Aficionados of the Steampunk universe entering into the festival would stop at her booth and admire the corsets, blouses, and skirts that prepared them to dress for another time and place.
The creator of Pennsylvania based Kiss Designs Amber O’Boyle said “I love the immense creative license allowed in creating clothing for festivals and events. I can literally create whatever comes into my rather crazy head. If I am in the mood to work with black, plum, and spikes, I can. If I want to craft a pink fairy with little moving wings, I can. If I want to go to the salvage yard and pick through old keys and hardware, I can create steampunk pieces.”
When appealing to the “time travelers” of Steampunk and fans of other pop subculture genres, O’Boyle said, she keeps in mind quality, size, price, and comfort. “Many of my clients have a limited cosplay budget or they are just starting to be involved in events and festivals.”
“We are the ‘poor college girl’ booth,” said O’Boyle.
“I don’t do steel boned corsets, waist trainers or traditional corsets. I don’t do fashion corsets either,” said O’Boyle. “My corsets are a hybrid, they are sturdier and better quality than fashion corsets yet are not as constricting and difficult to move in as a traditional corset. We call them ‘eat, drink and be merry corsets.’”
Kiss also caters to a variety of body shapes,” O’Boyle said. “I am the booth for the everyday, perhaps slightly odd person… My booth is purposely (focused on) where you can find your size if you are not a perfect size 6… A very large portion of American woman do not fit into commonly produced sizes so end up wearing basically baggy guys clothing, leggings, and tees.”
“There is no reason why woman can’t find decent garb in decent sizes,” said O’Boyle.
“If I’m sold out of your size, I will make it and mail it to you,” said O’Boyle.
When she creates something for another time and space, O’Boyle said, it may begin as spying something “in a thrift shop, a salvage yard, the backyard, and think(ing) ‘Oh that would be a gorgeous corset; that wants to be a hat; that would be beautiful a as a peasant top sleeve.’”
“I use mainly antique, vintage or found items because the quality and variety of materials are better and more interesting, said O’Boyle.
“The whole world is full of things that are waiting to be made into something else, why would I buy something brand new with no history?” said O’Boyle.
Kiss Designs can be found at SteampunkByKiss on Etsy and at Kiss Designs on Facebook. For a full schedule of its festival appearances, look at its Facebook page. Among the upcoming events in Connecticut are the Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire in Ansonia, Conn. in June and July, the Connecticut Renaissance Faire in Lebanon, Conn. August through October, and at Tommy’s Tattoo Convention in Hartford, Conn. in October.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN
Models are Lili Rojek and Erica Blake.