custom made costumes

Night & Day | 1920’s Burlesque Costumes

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

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 2 comments

Making History | Vintage Candy Butcher Costumes For A Halloween Ball

When Matt from Glory Days first mentioned Candy Butchers I had no idea what he was talking about.

It turns out these slightly sinister sounding fellows were actually siblings of the iconic vintage cigarette girl. Working during the intermission at theaters and circuses, candy butchers sold candy and snacks, along with the occasional con. ( There’s no harm in using an audience plant to give people the impression there might actually be a gold watch in the next box of candy they buy, right?)

Armed with this new found knowledge my job was to make history, or more accurately remake history. Costuming promo staff as candy butchers for a vintage Halloween Ball.

 

Custom designed vintage candy butcher or cigarette girl costumes made for the Blood Moon Ball by NZ costumer Velvet DeCollete

 

THE BRIEF

A pair of candy butcher costumes, one male and one female. Our candy butchers would be handing out Vintage Town Guides and Sailor Jerry promotional material at the family friendly Very Vintage Day Out. But they’d also be delivering specially made Rum & Raisin ice cream to our very adult guests at the Blood Moon Ball. The costumes needed to switch from innocent daywear to naughtier evening attire, while remaining recognizable and vintage inspired.

Being in contact with ice cream, sticky fingered children and guests with drinks meant they had to be washable. Hot environments meant they had to be breathable fabrics so our performers didn’t overheat. The costumes also needed to be durable, eye catching and fit several fashion eras.

MY INSPIRATION

I wanted to design costumes that were almost timeless – useable for events themed around the 1920’s to the 1950’s – with a fun, vibrant feel and strong graphic appeal. Inspiration came from cigarette girls, circus performers and chorus lines from the likes of the Follies and Cotton Club. Here’s a tiny sample of my mood and style inspiration.

 

Custom designed vintage candy butcher or cigarette girl costumes made for the Blood Moon Ball by NZ costumer Velvet DeCollete
Custom designed vintage candy butcher or cigarette girl costumes made for the Blood Moon Ball by NZ costumer Velvet DeCollete

 

THE RESULT

Two absolutely adorable costumes!

 

Custom designed vintage candy butcher or cigarette girl costumes made for the Blood Moon Ball by NZ costumer Velvet DeCollete

 

To evoke a vintage carnival atmosphere, I chose a classic red and white colour scheme with a wide stripe. Both candy butcher costumes have pillbox style hats, striped bow ties, and rosettes featuring the limited edition Blood Moon Ball enamel pins. Made in sturdy cotton drill and cotton polyester blends the costumes are durable, machine washable ( hats and rosettes excluded ) and can breath.

Madam Rou looked stunning in her red halter playsuit with a low v neckline ( inspired by a 1920’s chorus line costume ). Her full circle skirt features panels pattern matched to create a chevron design. An oversized wired bow with a brooch back adorned the back waistband of the skirt, and then the derriere of the playsuit come evening time. Rou had the perfect B.A.I.T Footwear shoes to match the outfit!

 

Custom designed vintage candy butcher or cigarette girl costumes made for the Blood Moon Ball by NZ costumer Velvet DeCollete

 

Nathan was dapper in a tailored red waistcoat and white soda jerk inspired shorts, shirt and shoes. The buttons on his waistcoat and both the hats feature a rope and anchor motif to reflect the branding of our sponsor Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum.

 

Custom designed vintage candy butcher or cigarette girl costumes made for the Blood Moon Ball by NZ costumer Velvet DeCollete

PHOTOS

David Watson
Reality Dysfunction
Dolly Up Photography

COSTUMES

Velvet DeCollete ( that’s me!)

With Style and Sass,

      Velvet DeCollete

 

 

 

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 3 comments