Maeri Certo



(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Photos by Tigz Rice, remotely; video music: Fuga y Misterio by Astor Piazzolla and played by Ocelli- this song was listed as "The Birth of a Swan" in some places online

Outline the story …

When we still had 3 possible themes, I knew that if this was chosen, I wanted to do a Black Swan design, and that I wanted to use the pewter vinyl from my stash for whatever corset I made this year. I love dance and story telling through music/movement, so I have wanted to design Odile for a while, but she is also a figure from folktales and modern fairytale "Black Swan" by Mercedes Lackey. There is a full description of the book character's ball outfit with my video on YouTube. I wanted to change it up and went for a tango-1950s inspiration, with a kicky skirt and a vinyl and coutil corset, with about 110 lace feathers individually sewn to tulle for an overlay. Borrowing from the book description, I added in pearls and rhinestones like Odile's ball gown was "encrusted" with. The metallic threads in my skirt fabric seemed like magic woven into fabric, and the pewter vinyl gives a nice bit of contrast against all the black. Instead of a mask like Odile has in the book, I made a 1950s style cocktail hat that arches over the head similar to how many Swan Lake headpieces are done for ballet.

Outline the construction…

I started my project with sketches, then made the hat out of feather trims rescued from worn out vintage hats donated to me. In the video, you can see my hat, skirt, and corset processes. The hat is a wire frame, wrapped in grosgrain and covered in windowpane sinamay. Feathers are hand sewn, trimmed with a velvet rosette on one side and velvet ribbon and beetle wings on the other. The skirt was interlined with silk organza, and the hems are bound with metallic blue bias tape. The corset was the hardest part of the project for me. The pattern is the Petal corset from Corsets by Caroline, and I am just slightly above the size range. Trying to make my mockup pieces fit the stand gave me trouble and in the end, though the corset is done, I know of multiple things I'd change next time, including not using vinyl! This is only my 4th corset so I was a bit ambitious and certainly underestimated the time and energy I'd need to make it happen. However, I am especially happy with the 110 pieces of hand cut lace feathers.




  1. Avatar bobbie NELSON on March 11, 2021 at 9:46 pm

    Great job and taking on a corset. They can be a handful. I love the feathers too.

    • Avatar Maeri Certo on March 12, 2021 at 5:49 pm

      thank you! this is my third completed corset (I have a corset vest for a guy friend that has been delayed due to covid). It was a bit of a beast but I’m glad I tackled it!

  2. Avatar Lorraine Lysen on March 11, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    This outfit is the bomb! That skirt! Those feathers! Stunning work.

  3. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 12, 2021 at 12:02 am

    That headpiece! Those hand-cut feathers on the corset! Your outfit is bang-on for the inspiration! Great job!

    • Avatar Maeri Certo on March 12, 2021 at 5:51 pm

      Thank you! I am pretty in love with my little hat… I might have to just start wearing her around the house!

  4. Avatar Gabrielle Amey on March 12, 2021 at 2:46 am

    So cool!

  5. Avatar Lady MOa Barington on March 12, 2021 at 3:55 pm

    It is a really good job. I love it. Je suis impressionnée!!!

  6. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 12, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    It’s beautiful! I love it !

  7. Avatar Miriam Lewis on March 12, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    Exquisite work, Maeri! It’s beautiful in every way, and beautiful on you!

  8. Avatar Nancy Stange on March 13, 2021 at 5:26 am

    I can’t imagine how long those feathers must have taken but the result is so beautiful! You look stunning and I absolutely love the Tango/50’s design!

  9. Avatar Lili on March 13, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    I also love the 1950s/ tango design with the adorable hat. It’s sultry and elegant at the same time. Your attention to detail down to those iridescent beetle wings is stunning. I’m amazed by the feathers. It’s an absolutely beautiful showcase!

  10. Avatar Lorna on March 13, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Such a beautiful design and the details are intriguing. Congratulations on the beautiful costume

  11. Avatar Rebecca on March 13, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    the featherwork on your hat is divine! as an aside, i love that you get two cat-calls from the strings section in that tango accompaniment to your film!

    • Avatar Maeri Certo on March 14, 2021 at 10:07 pm

      Did I create cat-calls in my video? Shame on me! I actually inserted parts of that song out of order.

  12. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 14, 2021 at 1:27 am

    So beautiful, I love all the layered feathers.

  13. Avatar Katie Hernandez on March 17, 2021 at 5:29 pm

    I think I’m in love! From sketch to reality you make this ensemble tell a tale. Bravo mon ami!

  14. Avatar KC (Keowyndrial) on March 19, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    This is amazing – I love the whole ensemble, it’s so fresh and elegant. The book by Mercedes Lackey is a favorite of mine, and I could totally see Odile wearing this in the ball scene were the book transported to the 1950s.

    • Avatar Maeri Certo on March 19, 2021 at 10:38 pm

      Thank you!– I’m still quite tempted to do some kind of ballgown overskirt at least, to really kick into that mood. I reigned myself in but I do love dresses! 😀

  15. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 20, 2021 at 5:11 am

    All I can say is WOW! What an inspiration you are! Thank you!

  16. Avatar Denise Young on March 25, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Beautiful detail!

  17. Avatar Annie Bartholomew on March 28, 2021 at 3:29 am

    Love the shape of this corset, and the point in the back. It’s those little design elements that make it so memorable.

    • Avatar Maeri Certo on March 28, 2021 at 5:01 pm

      Caroline is a fantastic designer– I can’t take credit for the lines of the corset, only the materials used. 🙂

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