When I began performing on the UK Burlesque circuit in 2006, a love for the costumes was a large part of the fuel behind my ambition. As the years passed, I would avidly inspect the costumes of everybody I worked with, to look for inspiration, and performers have always been very generous in sharing their tips and insider knowledge.
As you are a fan of Crystal Parade, I figured that you may also be a fellow magpie and interested in hearing from some of the most prominent figures in the UK Burlesque industry about aspects of their costuming.
This month I’ve spoken with one of the shiniest of stars, voted Best British Burlesque Performer 2016 by @Burlesque_Bible and Number 41 Burlesque Performer in the World by @21stcenturyburlesque (and my old housemate – can you imagine how many rhinestones ended up in our hoover?) - it’s @BettsieBonBon!
CP – Ok, we’ve been ogling costumes together for over ten years, so I’m going full nerd with these questions. Up first - do you have a favourite size and colour of rhinestone?
BBB - My favourite ‘useful for anything’ size is SS20. ‘Most useful’ colour and my favourite are different. The most useful is Crystal AB but my current favourite is Volcano.
CP - Something I know you feel really enhances the visual of a Burlesque costume is a headpiece. What are the key elements to a successful one?
BBB - Definitely a good base and headband or clip to secure it.
CP - There are a lot of newer performers out there who are inspired by your acts. Can you give them one tip to elevate their next costume, if they are on a small budget and creating it themselves?
BBB - I actually run a workshop on this, there are many things but one of the best pieces of advice is to mix your rhinestone quality and size. You can get a smaller amount of the top level crystals and mix them in with cheaper ones, they will shine off each other.
Think about using bigger shapes of jewellery stones to create patterns that will give a costume more texture.
CP - Let’s talk fringing. Always fun to wear. You use it very creatively in your costumes. Do you have any suggestions on a few different interesting ways to use it?
BBB - I do love fringing! It creates movement and depth to costumes. Think about adding it to new and exciting places for an element of surprise. I have it on shoes, gloves, headpieces and dresses. Consider different lengths and types. I love mixing fabric fringing with beaded fringing to elevate the look of the costume.
CP - Finally, a chance to go full fangirl. Which performer’s costume in particular do you covet and why?
BBB - Well, having just seen Dita perform, it has to be one of hers! I think the cowboy one with the pink crystal cowboy boots – breath-taking! Closer to home, the outfits that Alston Stephanus has done for Betsy Rose for Sublime Boudoir are pieces of art. Much the same with anything Vicky Butterfly wears.
Miss Polly Rae always looks elegant yet sexy and I love that about her style. Lada Red star’s bug will always be a favourite. The creativity of making herself a gorgeous insect is genius. I could go on, but those ones stand out the most to me.
Interview by Charlotte Pacelli (Liberty Sweet) - Director of costume makeover service @primpmycostume (IG/ Twitter/ Facebook) / co-founder of London’s leading Burlesque Troupe @thefollymixtures/ original Hurly Burly Girly for @themisspollyrae
Photos © @vsanchorstudio