Ballet School Dropouts Night and Day Art Deco burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 4

Night & Day | 1920’s Burlesque Costumes

If you’re a follower of New Zealand burlesque, you’ll already be enamoured with Dahlia and Trillian, the Ballet School Dropouts. If you’re not, get acquainted with them now. You won’t regret it. (I mean now, hit that link already!)

The Ballet School Dropouts perform as duets and soloists, delivering gorgeous 1920’s inspired performances. They capture the breathless extravagance of the era like no other act I’ve seen. Their Night and Day act pays tribute to the artwork of Erté and the music of Cole Porter, encompassing the beauty and decadence of the Art Deco period. When they approached me with their concept I knew it would be a challenge, but I was also absolutely in love with the aesthetic they were after.

Ballet School Dropouts Night and Day Art Deco burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 4

 

The Costume Concept

All costumes start with inspiration. Dahlia and Trillian are wonderfully organised, and sent me images of Art Deco statuettes, Erté illustrations and rough sketches. Their theme was dusk and dawn, incorporating flowing fabrics with heavier drapes, Grecian influences and colours borrowed from the sky. My job was translate their inspirations into garments that were beautiful, durable enough for stagewear and met some very special requirements for their choreography.

While designing I focused on the fluid lines of Erte and Paul Poiret, since uncluttered elegance would highlight the visual strength of the Ballet School Dropout’s tableau style choreography. The headdresses were already under construction by the talented Skull Stylist, so I sent photos and fabric swatches to ensure our costume pieces were cohesive.

 

Ballet School Dropouts burlesque wearing night and day costumes by Velvet DeCollete 5

Ballet School Dropouts Night and Day Art Deco burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 4


Layers, Fabrics and Construction

Heavily sequined fabric forms the top layer of drapery. Lined with satin and sparkling in silver and antique gold, this layer represents the sun, moon and stars. I carried the metallic tones into the painted vege-leather arm and neck bands.

To capture the essence of sunrise and sunset I chose diaphanous shot silk chiffon for the base layer of drapery. As the fabric swirls the colours shift between blue and purple, dusky rose and orange, just like the sky at daybreak and sunset. During this part of the act, the sheer drapery magically transforms from an asymmetric gown to an open cape attached to both arms. The mechanism behind this enchanting reveal took more than a few trial runs to perfect! Hemmed with a very fine rolled edge, the chiffon is unadorned, allowing maximum fluidity.

 

Ballet School Dropouts Night and Day Art Deco burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 4

Ballet School Dropouts Night and Day Art Deco burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 4

 

Art Deco patterns informed the lingerie and armband design. The shimmering harness draws two triangles on the torso, continuing the top line of the underwear.  Hand cut sunray vege -leather embellishments on the arm and neckbands reveal chiffon sandwiched between their layers. The bands themselves glitter thanks to geometric beaded trim.

I hand painted the underwear with sunray motifs in graduated tones, to match the chiffon and beading on the garters. ( I really love making beaded tassels, so they swing from the neckband and garters of this costume.) Dahlia and Trillian did a beautiful job of rhinestoning the painted areas to match their sunray pasties!

 

Ballet School Dropouts burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 1

 

A huge thank you to Roxy of Paradox Photography for these performance photos.
I don’t often see garments once they leave my workroom, so I got butterflies seeing these on stage!

If you’re in the mood for more burlesque costumes, you might like to explore my Flamingo Follies post, or the costume I created for international burlesque performer MisRed Delicious.

With Style and Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

2 comments

Emily Kitsch

Stunning! You did an amazing job and Dahlia and Trillian look gorgeous in your work! Well done! 🙂

velvetdecollete

Thank you darling! They such amazing performers, I love dressing them!

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