This month @primpmycostume speaks with one of London's most prestigious performers and a key figure on the International Burlesque scene.
Voted the UK’s number 1 most influential Burlesque figure three times, by the highly regarded industry poll, 21st Century Burlesque, as well as placing 12th in the world's top burlesque countdown, Miss Betsy Rose has been dazzling audiences on every continent around the globe for over a decade.
Completely devoted to the original spirit of Burlesque, her classic look combined with her professional dance background has led her to star in two West End runs of The Hurly Burly Show.
She has appeared in feature films, music videos, film premieres, television dramas, and television commercials. She has performed for some of the world’s most elite corporate clients, including Vogue Arabia, Dolce & Gabbana, Bvlgari, Givenchy, Cointreau, and Paris Fashion week.
Miss Betsy Rose is also an established model and has been featured in French Vogue, ID, Harpers Bazaar, and Italian Playboy, to name but a few. This month we are lucky enough to grill her for insider tips and advice.
Charlotte Pacelli (CP): Betsy you are by far the most committed vintage fashion connoisseur I have ever met. I've even witnessed Dita in more casual attire backstage. Can you share a few tips for your audience on how to achieve a few more small touches of glamour to their daywear?
Betsy Rose (BR): Oh wow, well thank you! It’s all in the detail...even the most simple and understated outfits can instantly be transformed by a beautiful silk necktie, a little beret hat, or statement jewellery piece. This is the day-wear fashion equation that I live by! Don’t be afraid to go bold with colours to make a chic black outfit stand out. And the real key to a glamorous look is to wear it with confidence which makes any outfit shine the brightest of all!
CP: Definitely now going on a necktie online shopping quest after this…We have to discuss your stagewear by Alston Stephanus. These pieces are often quoted by other performers as their favourite costume belonging to another. How did your collaboration come about? What's your favourite detail in these pieces?
BR: This is a rather huge compliment and so lovely of my fellow performers. Alston is truly one of the most amazingly curious-minded people on the planet, a one-of-a-kind creative genius.
We met back in 2011 after Alston had watched me perform and we began collaborating for his own productions of Sublime Boudoir in 2013, after establishing a shared appreciation of vintage clothing and a mutual adoration for one another’s work. It is so hard to choose a favourite within our creations, akin to picking a favourite child! The workmanship within the design is second-to-none and the historical accuracy gives it a refined edge.
We will source true vintage buttons or details which nest around the layers of beading and Swarovski crystals that adorn each piece. I like to believe this is what breathes such life and soul into the costume. A stand-out has to be the lingerie created for the London edition of Sublime Boudoir “A Marvellous Adventure” where handmade appliqués were stitched to a bra and boned to create structure, then hand-beaded in antique pastel tones. The depth it created was spectacular!
CP: I reckon we may be on a similar level of crystal geek. Favourite shade of crystal to use on your costumes? If you could only add crystals to one area of a full costume (pasties and pants aside) where would you suggest is most effective?
BR: Well here is a confession for you all. Whilst my inner showgirl magpie is as strong as yours I actually prefer beading over crystals. This is probably due to being so drawn to authentic vintage costumes that rely so heavily on textured fabrics, such as lace and velvet with bead-work over the top.
My top tip is combing all three. Beading provides movement, fabric provides depth and crystals are the beautiful cherries on top. Each costume takes on its very own persona, so I couldn’t suggest one area in particular. In one costume it could be the gloves because the hand and arm movements are so beautiful and they deserve highlighting. But on another costume, it could be the corset - because who doesn’t adore a fully crystallised corset?!
CP: You’ve inspired me to have a little more experimentation with beading. I often use beaded fringing but might go on a hunt for beaded appliqué to play with. You perform in such a variety of stage spaces. What do you have to consider when staging the same act across various types of venues? Any mistakes we can avoid?
BR: Whilst one space can be an enormous raked stage in a theatre, the next might be in a dark club, in the round, and on the same level as your audience. This is why you must approach every performance with such huge energy so that you can fill a large space or demand the audience’s attention.
Not being overly precious to the act’s choreography is also integral, as you have to be ready to adapt the content to fit the space. Be open-minded to how different your audiences can be and be mindful to suit their taste and different needs. They are just important to the success of a performance.
CP: Finally, so many burlesquers worldwide look to you for inspiration. Who continues to inspire you?
BR: I am forever inspired by every single fellow burlesquer that I share a bill with. Each and every one of them is strong, talented, and fierce in their own right.
Every burlesque performer is unique for their own reason and I look up to them for it, which makes me want to better myself in response. There is no measure of who is the best or to choose one particular individual because the talent pool is so incredibly strong and individuality is praised within our beautiful industry.