Saturday, September 04, 2010

All About The Costumes

I love dressing up. That’s the reason I was lured away from ‘serious’ jazz (if I was every serious in the first place) and into cabaret. To me the whole point of being on stage is the excuse it gives me to wear a really fabulous gown. The Blue Lady has not one but two costume designers, because she’s even more high-maintenance than her creator. The look of the original 1958 painting by Vladimir Tretchikoff (once available, framed, for eleven shillings and sixpence from Boots The Chemist, and a must-have in every 60s home) was recreated by production designer Salvatore Forino. Salvatore also persuaded the Japanese wig dressers working on Theatre de Complicité’s show at the Barbican to show him how to set the wig like the painting then bake it in the oven for eight hours so it would hold the shape. “This is not real hair!” they said, appalled. I bought it for £12 from Brixton Market, so I’m not surprised.

The Blue Lady’s 1920s blues vamp costume was created by fashion designer Stephane St Jaymes, who’s been making me larger-than-life creations for six years now. It includes £75-worth of sequinned fringing, and by sheer coincidence it exactly matches the description of a fantasy dress I included in a short story called Gown Envy I wrote about five years ago.

In the last couple of weeks before the Edinburgh festival I was ricocheting across London between these two geniuses with arms full of crystal organza, paper flowers, Indian brocade, and long round tubes of foam as they magicked up two more incarnations for the Blue Lady specially for my Fringe run.

You can see the fruits of their labours in this photo album:

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