My memories of the lovely Amber ‘Showpaz’ Topaz go right back to the very start of my burlesque journey. As a newbie back in 2007, I’d nabbed myself the amateur free slot in a Volupté show and was scanning through their beautiful brochure to come across a photo of a sassy red-haired siren lounging provocatively over a piano. Fast forward 10 years and we’re sharing wine from plastic cups, dressed in animal onesies in the back of a squashed tour van and running across freezing cold service station car parks at midnight for emergency toilet dashes. Ah, the glamour of being a showgirl. Amber has been somewhat of a crystal costume guru over the years and I’ve learned a lot from asking her about her costuming experience. She owns some of the most coveted pieces I’ve come across in the business.
CRYSTAL GLAMOUR AND COVETABLE COSTUMES
Charlotte Pacelli @primpmycostume: So firstly, I’m always searching for a new Instagram content to lust after. Which account should we all follow right now for ultimate crystal costume inspo?
Amber Topaz @the_amber_topaz: Well, I am still massively influenced by authentic vintage, which is a large part of my aesthetic. Anything that showcases showgirl glamour with a touch of drag queen thrown in for theatrical measure is fabulous.
CP: I’m definitely on board with that. My favourite, currently, in this line of thought is Jorge D’Glamour at @dglamour who makes the most epic carnival feathered costumes with structured headdresses. Totally swoonsome. Moving from clothes to hair now. What’s the best tip for vintage hairstyling you have picked up over the years?
AT: I follow @neciahairstyling on Instagram for my inspiration. Her do's are to die for. She often posts great tutorials and photos of the cuts required to achieve a successful set.
CP: That’s hair and costuming covered, might as well go for the face next. Best stage make-up tip you have up your sleeve?
AT: I am totally basic when it comes to make-up. Though I cannot go on stage without my false lashes! I feel naked.
CP: Ok, so I’ve sorted the perfect set of pin curls, some extra false lashes and got my hands on some vintage showgirl costume pieces. This level of glamour needs to live forever! Who to choose to capture it…Which photographer got the best out of you in a previous shoot and why?
AT: Thomas R Grady captured some corkers because he was so positive and hilarious and I was relaxed and having fun. Similarly, Zoe Hunn is super chilled and so good at lighting.
CP: Side note, Zoe used to be our International tour manager on An Evening of Burlesque and has taken some of the best photos of myself I’ve ever had. I really hate photoshoots, but I literally tried three poses and on the third one she said “Stop! Hold that! Ok great, we’re done”. The photo was delightful and there was loads of time left over for wine. My kind of photoshoot!
You've also had the pleasure of is being a part of a large range of Burlesque festivals all over the world. I’m interested to know the best you’ve ever performed at and why it was a unique experience?
AT: Hosting the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival (2019 edition) was a marathon of glorious international stars, which I got to enjoy close up and personal from the wings. Beyond this treat, I instantly had a very special relationship with the audience. Maybe because I am Northern? Literally, everything I said or did was being met with hysterical laughter. I was totally on the fly and off the cuff, like I was chatting to a group of old friends. Though in this case there were 400 plus! Being able to generate laughter is priceless and music to my soul. It is especially magic when it's an effortless connection to the funny bone.
CP: If you haven’t seen Amber’s one woman show yet, and you’re Stateside, you lucky people can get yourself in on some of this action. By invitation, Amber will be returning to The United Solo Festival, New York with her award-winning, critically acclaimed one woman show 'The Rude Awakening, Sex, Shame & Liberation'. It is showcased as one of the Best of the Best for their 10 year Anniversary.
One final tip from me, folks, keep your eyes peeled on Amber’s Facebook as she sometimes purges costumes and sells on. You definitely don’t want to miss one of those moments!
THANKS TO OUR GUESTS
Thanks to Charlotte Pacelli and Amber Topaz for taking their valuable time to share some insights into the world of costumes and Burlesque. For more information or to follow them on social media, see below.
OUR COLLECTION OF CRYSTALS
Keep up to date with Amber Topaz and her crystal costumes at:
Facebook: Amber Topaz
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
by @vsanchorstudio and @claireseville