As a pre-Christmas treat for you all, this month I’ve spoken with UK Queen of Burlesque @themisspollyrae. With a string of West End runs under her belt, this star of the Burlesque world has kindly shared a few of her golden costuming secrets with us…
CP – Best costuming tip you've received from another performer? Who was it?
PR - Not so much a performer but the director of the ‘Hurly Burly Show’ William Baker gave a life-changing tip of putting rhinestones on EVERYTHING!!! I had always used a splash here and there but William taught me that more is definitely more when it comes to sparkle.
CP - How have costumes changed and developed in the time you've been performing?
PR - When I started with the Hurly Burly Girlys in 2006 it was all about customisation and being as creative as possible, we’d buy knickers from Primark or Topshop and sew sequins and ribbons on or collaborate with cool boutique lingerie brands. To be honest, nothing much has dramatically changed, it’s still very much all about creativity and customisation but I have been very fortunate that my budgets have increased somewhat.
I now get to collaborate with brands and designers such as Beau Rocks, Katy Adeney, Sara Constantini, Cut A Bitch and Klare ‘Yaya’ Wilkinson to create wonderful custom made-from-scratch unique pieces. Over the years I feel I have honed and developed a signature style. I’ve always gone with a Hollywood glamour feel but I’ve experimented with different eras and mixing eras. I’m at a place now that I really feel is ‘me’. These days I’m all about a marcel wave with a catsuit or thigh high boot. I love it!
CP - Are there any figures in fashion that inform and inspire your work?
PR - Designer wise I adore The Blonds, a design duo from New York. They are the epitome of glamour, fierceness and extravagance. Madonna has always been my ‘show’ fashion style icon. There is always a little bit of Madonna in what I do, there are so many references to choose from! Then of course there is every single Queen in RuPaul’s Drag Race…
CP - Which one piece of costume can immediately make the overall look appear more expensive?
PR - Anything that has been rhinestoned within an inch of its life!
CP - You've produced Burlesque shows for a variety of venue sizes. What different considerations did you have to make when designing costumes for shows in cabaret supper clubs in comparison to West End theatres?
PR - For supper club venues, attention to intricate detail is very important as the audience is so close to the costume, they can see everything so you better make sure there aren’t any rhinestones missing!
In a big space the more elaborate the costume the better so it can be seen from a distance. Having said that though, even in a small space I say the bigger the better and it’s always nice to have detail in your costume wherever you are even if it’s only something that you can admire!
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
Follow @themisspollyrae for details on upcoming shows
Photographs by @vsanchorstudio