A Resurgence of Historical Ladies’ Wear: Corsetry with Designer Larissa Boiwka

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Larissa Boiwka (pronounced Boy-eve-kah), a recent recipient of the Greater Columbus Art Council’s grants, and her Wilde Hunt Corsetry came to my attention through a Facebook post on the Art and Artists of 614.  I was totally enthralled by her artistry and amazingly detailed work.  I’ve never had a corset before but her work has sure made me think about that twice! I asked her if she would be interested in being interviewed and, happily, she said yes.

blue and gold corset

Not only did I interview her, but I got to take a great 3D embroidery class from her near the end of April. First, the interview and then a little bit about the class.

Originally from Amherst Ohio, she is both a first and second generation here in the USA…her dad immigrated from the Ukraine and her mother’s family immigrated (great grandparents on her mother’s side) from Germany and England…THAT is an interesting bloodline and could explain her love for history.

Creating came to her through her genes as her mother is an artist and raised Larissa in an environment that fostered creativity, artistry and creation. While her mom doesn’t enjoy sewing much, she taught Larissa the basics at an early age. ‘As far as corsetry is involved, I  am 100% self-taught through a lot of expensive mistakes!’


Like so many other artists I have interviewed, she states:

Yes, I have always been drawn to creating. I have thought about this a lot over the years, and I don’t think that you really get to choose. If you are an artist, you simply are. You can try to defer it, stifle it, but it will always surface. I feel that generally when an artist tries to forego art for another occupation, they end up pretty miserable.  Ask me how I know…ha ha!

Having a degree in anthropology from OSU, she has a passion for historic clothing, ancient cultures, cultural adornments and ethnic costumes that have inspired a lot of her work. ‘Towards the end of my degree I realized that while I am very interested in and inspired by ancient cultures, I did not want to spend my life in academia. I worked as a retail buyer for an art and jewelry gallery after college. It was during that time that I established Wilde Hunt Corsetry in 2007. ‘ She calls her work ‘art corsetry’ since it is a mix of fine art, traditional craft and fashion. Nature, Art Nouveau, antique furniture, ethnic textiles and jewelry, extreme contrasts and beautiful and distinctive women serve as inspiration for her gorgeous creations.


In addition to her own creations, she teaches couture embroidery and beading. She sometimes teaches Couture Embroidery and Beading at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) or at her home studio. Since she believes that it is kind of a dying art form, she thinks it is important to pass on the techniques. Recently, she taught a course in am obscure medieval style of embroidery called Or Nue’ (nuance in gold). It is like painting with silk upon densely laid threads of gold. ‘The detail and subtlety possible in this medium is incredible.’ Unfortuntately, the best artisans in this style died without passing on their skills and so now, just a handful of them internationally practice this form of embroidery, having taught themselves through studying extant examples and trial and error. Fortunate for the Columbus art and fashion scene that Larissa is among them!

This creative lady is very busy with numerous projects.  Among them is a commission for an 1800’s Victorian style corset for a client who participates in living history events (this will be an undergarment that will provide the proper foundation for her historic gown). She used her GCAC grant to fund her Art Nouveau Collection, featuring hand tooled leather with a genuine 23kt gold finish.  Currently, she is  working on scheduling a special embroidery class inspired in part by the extraordinary embroidery seen on the costumes from the Game of Thrones TV show. The designer on the show uses historic, Old World 3-D embroidery techniques to create lifelike animals and plants which raise up off the surface of the garment. She will be instructing her class on the historic techniques used to create these kinds of effects and  students can then use the techniques on clothing, framed artwork, or other decorative objects like mirrors or wooden boxes. Saying she is really excited to teach this class is an understatement!  She’s been wanting to teach this style of embroidery for years but now with the popularity of the TV series…well, it seems like the perfect opportunity!!!  ***(If you want to be notified of the date and how to register for this class, you can email: sales@oldetownebead.com)

gold corsetlarissa gold corset

All of her work is custom, made-to-measure and sold only through her website wildehunt.com. Clients can view my portfolio of past works there and contact me at larissa@wildehunt.com for commission inquiries.
I create a custom garment experience for clients worldwide by tailoring a leather corset to fit an individual’s body and personal style. It doesn’t matter where you live, I can accommodate you. In our modern world, it is very rare to be able to choose every detail of how a garment will look. Wilde Hunt Corsetry can provide this luxury experience.
Melisende, an example of one of her patterns
Melisende, an example of one of her patterns

In addition, her  work has been worn on the TV show Oddities (Science Channel) and in many music videos, including the video for Grammy award wining artist Chamillionaire’s ‘No Room in Hell’.  She was also featured on Good Day Columbus in June 2014…Quite impressive!!

Good day Columbus
Many thanks to my amazing hair and makeup team (M’lou MacKay santilli, josh santilli, Ricki Retino, Beth Gray) and my wonderful models for making our Good Day Columbus appearance go so beautifully.
Besides a love for historic clothing, she grows rare orchids and loves to visit Franklin Park Conservatory if she needs a creative boost.  You can see this inspiration in some of her most colorful corsets.  And, since I received 2 (yes 2!!) orchids from kiddos that I work with within the last year, I have and will continue to hit her up for advice in growing!
another corsetorchid
 Now on to a little teaser about her class!  Below you will see the project we began during a 5 hour class teaching about 3 D embroidery and how to use a variety of materials with your embroidery.  I learned to embroider from my mom when I was in high school (back when everyone was doing it to their jeans and, yes, I am aging myself) but I never learned how to make raised pieces so this was a great creative adventure for me.
20150425_102817We first learned how to transfer the image to our silk then learned techniques for stuffing the peacock to create a 3 D effect.
Larissa instructing
Larissa instructing
The beginning of my peacock
Although we didn’t have time to complete the project while at the workshop, we did learn lots of great techniques and I even learned some new stitches plus got info about what is called ‘Stumpwork’ and the book to learn more.  And, since I got a gift card from school for Amazon, I know just what I am gonna use it for!
Stay tuned to my In the Studio with Vicki page to learn more about the workshop.  In the meantime, check out this talented lady’s work and be on the look out for one of her detailed corsets being featured in an upcoming Civil War drama on PBS called Mercy Street airing next to Dowton Abbey in winter of 2016.  Way to go Larissa!!!
Contact info for readers:
Wilde Hunt Corsetry
Website: http://www.wildehunt.com
Instagram: @wildehuntcorsetry
For embroidery and beading classes and supplies –
Olde Towne Bead Supply

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