We like to look back at our history
of ROMANTASY particularly this past month of January, 2015 --
our 25th year in
business -- and credit our first and most
influential mentor, Ruth Johnson of BR Creations
* * * *
Ruth was an inimitable presence in the corset
world -- fairly and undoubtedly to be credited
with the rebirth of corsetry in the US if not the world.
We are gratified to have known and learned from Ruth,
and proud to have represented her from 1990 until her
retirement in 2004. We remained in touch with Ruth
until her untimely passing in 2010.
There will never again be a more perfect,
comfortable hourglass silhouette created or replicated
as in her simple, underbust Victorian --
the quintessential "tight-lacing" corset often made
in two simple layers of cotton-backed satin (no coutil
in sight!) with velvet trim and only eight panel pieces.
Those of us owning one or more "BR corsets" are lucky indeed
to have a valued and irreplaceable piece of corset
history! One of her friends became Melodie Chan Doss, a
sales assistant at the famed Britex Fabric Store in San Frnacisco,
"Thanks for the walk through memory lane. Mrs. Johnson
was my first major customer when I began my retail
career at Britex. Whenever she shopped at the store,
she always greeted me with a smile and left me with a
little gem about fabrics and corsets. It was a privilege
to meet her." Melodie (1/12/15)
We were saddened on August 1, 2010 to learn of the passing
of Ruth Johnson, a most unique and talented individual
in the world of quality custom corsetmaking.
We attended a lovely memorial
celebration of her life held in her home town of Mountain
View, CA, and met her family and many friends from Ruth's wide
ranging life experience and many associations.
We were proud to stand and offer a brief verbal acknowledgment
of Ruth's enormous, world-wide influence commencing
twenty-five years ago in her
second career in custom corsetry; her
first was as a school teacher.
OUR HISTORY WITH RUTH
Hundreds and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of our ROMANTASY
clients enjoyed Ruth's creations
during fourteen years of our productive association with
BR Creations commencing in 1990 when we opened our
retail boutique in the Marina District of San Francisco.
During the eight subsequent
years in retail before going online,
Ruth visited several times to present seminars on
corsetry and tight-lacing, pictured below on such a
Therefore we were
exceedingly disappointed to announce her retirement from
our corsetmaking team on April 15, 2004.
Ruth remained in contact with us from time to time and
offered her advice and encouragement. She often told us
how much she valued the additional time she had to spend
with her husband Lewis and their children and many
grandchildren. Then we were later saddened to learn of
the passing of Lew, pictured below standing left, at a small social
gathering to honor
Michael P. Garrod from London (seated),
True Grace Corset Company.
Like Michael, also a
very good ROMANTASY friend and team member who passed
some years ago, Ruth was one of a rare handful
of superb corsetmakers contributing in modern times to
the rebirth of quality corset making, tight-lacing, and
corset education in this country and abroad.
We are grateful to have known and learned from her.
She initially influenced Ann's grand passion with the
corset. Ann will ever more be proud of owning 19 of
Ruth's inimitable and beautiful hourglass creations,
many of them seen below. On one occasion while visiting
with corset scholar David Kunzle, Professor of
Art History at UCLA, Ann reached her personal best
in tight-lacing wearing the pink brocade BR corset (below)
at 19.5" (over measurement, 18.5" under corset)
worn for two-and-a-half hours.
BR Creations corsets were well-known for creating
perfect hourglass-silhouette, for their durability and
for their waist-training suitability. An overview of
Ruth's manner of approaching and educating about
corsetry and her corsets themselves, reveal an amazingly
wide range of images from the
extremely fetish to the extremely feminine. You may view
this wealth of images below on this page and in her ROMANTASY
Ruth's quirky personality and mannerisms reflected
the same juxtaposition of
opposites, a delightful quality but sometimes frustrating, as well.
After a few months of our association, we noted that
above all Ruth loved and promoted the mystery
corsets and tight-lacing! It was only after five years of
our active association with her that one day Ruth revealed to
how garter ribbons were meant to be positioned and
part of the romantic history of the corset.
(Apparently, Ann as well as others had to "earn" her
right to know; do you know, too?) Ruth was slow to
student or client who was not a true corset enthusiast,
devotee of quality and fit,
or one willing to learn from her long experience. She was
known to promptly refuse orders if the potential client did not
reflect the high values and standards in which
Ruth believed and which her corset-making quality
reflected. Others who became her devoted clients and
students, earned her respect in turn and thus
benefited from Ruth's
knowledge and suberb personal corset creations.
TYPICAL AND NON-TRADITIONAL STYLES
Because Ruth personally oversaw the finishing of each
garment and took orders from around the world, clients
waited patiently, sometimes for over a year, for her lovely
products. The demands for her garments made her
workload such that "only one style" was offered:
double outer-boned Victorian, notable diagonal front boning,
typically with velvet
binding although later Ruth entertained requests from ROMANTASY
satin binding. Typically Ruth's corsets were lined in
satin, but no fabric was ever bonded or interfaced as far as we
are able to determine. Still, the quality, fit, and
durability of BR Corsets were
superb, and diminish if not demolish some social-media
discussions by corsetiere "newbies"
about additional elements they feel are "necessary" to create quality corsetry.
Despite the limits of the pattern
she would typically produce, Ruth would sometimes deliver
a stunning corset heavily boned for more fetish wearing
preferences, such as the blue cotton corset pictured
This tall corset was constructed for a gentleman client, with
seven double bone casings interspersed with
eight single bone casings per side. The front length is
Ruth licensed and made perfect
the pattern that Fakir, an icon
in the Bay Area fetish scene, had carefully worked out.
varied the eight-panel design for full-figure or extreme
tight-lacing of fetish clients.
Corsets were typically delivered with four wide
per leg, but on one occasion, our client ordered and received
nine garters per leg!
Our clients customized this single pattern using various colors, laces and trims, and fabrics which
you can see on this page.
Ruth offered exquisite leather creations and rolled
piping to contrast with outer bone casings. She was
exceedingly particular in choosing high quality
cotton-backed satin and top quality velvet trims and
braids to adorn a corset, plus used only double
We hope you enjoy below photos of beautiful BR
Creations corsets and in the BR Creations
and the many
Kudos and Corset Kisses
we have received about Ruth's creations
over the years of
our association, and about her untimely departure.
You are invited to send comments and photos you would
like included on this memorial page.
None of the corsets
shown here are for sale, however from time to time
we feature a few
consignment BR Creations corsets for sale. It is
always worth it to visit this page and other online corset venues, to
keep an eye out for such treasures!
- "Lovely (web) tribute to Ruth Johnson --
a good artist and person." David Kunzle (Professor of
Art History, UCLA, 8/3/10)
- "I'm sorry to hear Ruth's passing. I really
hoped to meet Ruth someday. She seemed like an
amazing woman and corsetiere. I really am sorry
to hear of her passing." Jade Locke, corsetiere
(Boulder, CO, 8/3/10)
"I'm sad to hear that yet an other corsetiere,
Ruth Johnson, has left us. It was the corsets from
Ruth (BR creations) which inspired me to start designing
corsets over 30 years ago. I still have her little
catalogue from that time. So sad sad sad." Jeroen van
Der Klis (Amsterdam, 8/12/10)
- "My condolences to ROMANTASY on loosing a fine
corset maker, Ruth, and my condolences to Ruth's
family on their loss. I am honored to have one of her
corset creations in my collection." Sarah R.
(Roseville, California, 8/4/10)
- "My corset has arrived safe and well and it is
just so beautiful! Ruth is a genius; it fits so
well and gives me such a fantastic waist line
especially when I get that extra inch in once I have
seasoned it !! (I put it down to a little winter
spreading at the waist line!!) I am wearing it at
the moment lightly laced :-)) and feel so good, I
just threw on the first skirt and top I could lay
hands on and tried it on---oh, its just fantastic.
Now I have to start thinking about outfits to go with
it so as to really show off my curves. I think the
fabric just has such a classy look. Enough, I could go
on for ever !! :-))
Thank you so much." Abby (New Zealand, 10/19/01)
I received the corsets today. HOLY #$%@^ I must
humbly apologize. There is no comparison or custom with
readymade corsets! These corsets
are so comfortable, and yet, my corseted waistline is
now 27" (I didn't even have to try to accomplish this).
The best I could do with the off-the-peg was 28 ½" at
a comfort level that doesn't even approach these
corset. Kudos to Ruth! Forget this silly nonsense about
ordering anymore off-the-peg. (I'll bet you
knew/predicted this!). You know I'll be calling!
You're the greatest!" Charlie (8/14/99)
- "I was fit for my corset in September of 1996.
I chose a black floral brocade BR Creations basic
Victorian corset with extra stays that would provide
about a 4-inch waist reduction. The hardest part was
the waiting; it takes about 12 weeks, but my corset
was completed right on time, 2 weeks before Christmas.
Unpacking it with great excitement, I was not
disappointed; it is LOVELY!"Judy (writing in 1998)
- "Wow! Am so excited, this morning when I got up the
postman knocked on our door delivering your parcel.
I ripped it open immediately and nearly fainted when
I tried on my new BR corset! It looks so gorgeous!
Can't wait to wear it out. Am running around in it
already the whole day..." Susanne, Melbourne,
- "It's been a week now and I am VERY happy with my
BR Corset. While I have been trying to follow your
directions, a custom made corset is so wonderful that
I find myself wanting to go too fast. I am VERY happy
with my figure and the way I look now. Thanks!"