This month @primpmycostume speaks burlesques costumes with a shining star of the London burlesque circuit, the Cyd Charisse for a new generation, Didi Derrière.

A born entertainer and maven of all things glamorous, Didi exhilarates and enthralls every audience that is charmed enough to meet her. Since she exploded onto the London Burlesque scene in 2015 she has delighted in fashioning acts in a variety of genres and moods. From her seductive Fan Dances to her deliciously authentic New Orleans 20’s Bump and Grind she has grown into quite the creative chameleon.

A professionally trained dancer, her exquisite acts are polished to perfection; executed to the highest of standards every time. From the rise of an eyebrow to a sky-high kick, every move exudes class and sass.

She won the Crown of Burlesque Idol in her first year on the scene and has continued growing ever since. She has been sashaying across stages in the UK and Europe, including Belgium, Switzerland and Estonia. She is resident in many of the capital’s top Burlesque spots and regularly makes Guest Appearances with the Gin House Burlesque. She has become a firm favourite of the cabaret community, both on and offstage, finding a home in the hearts of producers and burlesque connoisseurs alike.

Charlotte Pacelli (CP): Firstly, we need to talk about you wearing Madonna's Gaultier coned bust corset. How did that epic photo shoot come about? What was the iconic piece like to wear?

Didi Derrière (DD): The piece was due to be sold by an auction company (@kerrytaylorauctions) and I received an email from them asking if I would like to model the iconic piece. They wanted to recreate a famous Jean Baptiste Mondino image of Madonna wearing the corset to publish in their monthly magazine. Apparently they had just searched the hashtag #madonnalookalike on Instagram and I popped up. I hadn’t even debuted my Madonna Act at the time and the costume was still under construction. It was only by chance that @vsanchorstudio had used the hashtag on a photo she posted of me on Instagram that they managed to come across my profile. I felt extremely privileged to have been asked and to have had the opportunity.

Whilst trying on the corset we had to be very careful and we weren’t allowed to touch it without wearing gloves. We had Madonna’s music playing in the background whilst we were praying that the corset was actually going to fit (it was extremely snug with no stretch in it at all). Ironically the song that was playing while this was happening was “Like a Prayer”. I wasn’t present at the auction but I found out later the piece was sold for a whopping £30K! (CP: EXCELLENT insider information, thanks Didi!) It was an unforgettable experience and a memory I will treasure forever.

CP: Embellishment geek section approaching. Do you have any favourite crystal patterns/designs for use on burlesque costumes? What's important to you when selecting crystals for your own costume creations?

DD: I don’t necessarily have any favourite crystal patterns or designs, it all depends on the style of the costume and the amount of crystals I’m applying. The main thing for me is making sure I have quite a big range of different sizes of crystals. I also love to mix different shades of the same colour together to create more of an in-depth effect. I prefer to embellish everything with Swarovski crystals however sometimes I mix them in with other brands to stretch the showgirl budget.

CP: Your Sweet Dreams act took eighteen months to create. Tell us a little about what went into pulling this piece together.

DD: This was the first time I had such a clear vision for an act before I had settled on music. I am so passionate about fashion and dramatic silhouettes. My favourite designers are Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler, so my look for this act was very much inspired by them and their striking flare. This was the first time I collaborated with @onlybourgeoisie @cutabitchdesigns on a costume project and we have built such a wonderful working relationship. They were able to bring my vision to life so beautifully and I enjoyed working with them every step of the way. Settling on the right music for this act was the biggest contest, as I had such a clear vision of how I wanted the act to feel and be portrayed.

Music is one of, if not the most important component to me when it comes to constructing a new act. I spent months searching for the right tracks that would bring my dream to life. In the end, I ended up using the two tracks I had originally thought of in the first place. Even though the creative process of this act took a long time, it has proven to be one of my favourite numbers to perform on stage and I have so much fun when I do.

CP: Your photographic modelling is particularly impressive. What would you suggest as a good outfit choice for a newer performer who is booking an upcoming shoot? Any insider posing tips?

DD: I would say to wear something that makes you feel absolutely fantastic! If you feel amazing in your burlesque costumes, that will come across in the photos. The best photographers are the ones who know how to make the model feel at ease and that energy always comes across clearly in the images. It’s always good to practice posing in the mirror at home too and really get to know your face/body and your best angles, as it’s different for everyone. Try to keep making small adjustments to your poses throughout your shoot and make sure you don’t become too stiff and stuck in one position. If this happens it’s always a good idea to have a really good wiggle before settling back into another pose. And most importantly have fun and try not to take yourself too seriously.

CP: Let's talk about show memories. Which individual show are you most proud of performing in? Most challenging? Most fun? Show you'd love to perform in?

DD: I have performed in so many shows that I am proud to have been involved with, but I would say that I am most proud of being part of Gin House Burlesque family. The ladies of Gin House Burlesque have given me so many opportunities right from the beginning of my career and I am proud to have represented the Gin House brand at countless shows and showcases. A particular highlight being the ‘Roaring Twenties Revue’ at the Underbelly festival back in 2017.

There have been many challenging shows during my career, most of which would include quick changes. I often have nightmares about situations where the host/compere is announcing me to the stage and I am either completely naked and not ready at all or I am sitting in the audience watching the whole terrifying scene unfold.

I always have fun when I’m performing, I love every aspect about it. I especially love chatting with the other performers in the dressing room and all the backstage antics that go on. However, there are some special shows that come to mind which are a joy to perform in. Rumour Mill has always been such a fun show to be a part of.

There is such a family vibe about it and the audiences are always so fun and up for a good time. Another show I have lots of fun performing in is Legends at Bunga Bunga (Covent Garden) on a Saturday night. The cast of this particular show is such a wonderful group of people and the green room is always buzzing with love and laughter. I am, of course, always having fun at my cabaret home with my @proudcabaret family.

A show I would absolutely love to perform in would be The Crazy Horse in Paris. I would love to be a featured guest artist and collaborate with them on creating a new unique show. I have been to see the show a few times and I loved the version they adapted to incorporate Dita Von Teese. I also have a big dream of creating my own solo show, and have started to put some ideas together to make this a reality, so watch this space!

Keep up to date with Didi Derrière and her gorgeous burlesque costumes at @dididerriere on IG/ Facebook/ Twitter or visit dididerriere.co.uk

Photos by @neilnezkendall/ @tigzrice/ @paul_monckton/ @kerrytaylorauctions