Ever wondered where Burlesque performers find their costumes? Most make them or customise pieces with crystals and fringing. We do! But we also, for group numbers have a fabulous costume designer in the form of House of Ivory
The fabulous Rob Ivory made both the opening and closing costumes for this years London Wonderground shows, and our resident Banged Up. We couldn’t NOT let you meet him!
How did you begin in costume design?
The truth is I sort of fell into it.
As a teenager, I attended secondary school on a music scholarship and had been performing for years before that (but those days are a little hazy now). I was always involved in performance in one way or another, be it actually performing or as backstage. By the time I finished GCSEs I knew the school could not provide me with the tools I needed anymore.
My direction had changed. I applied last minute to a local college to do a diploma in pattern cutting for fashion. During my time there I was constantly told my ideas were very ‘costume’. I didn’t really understand what they were talking about as I always got inspiration from the haute couture fashion, and my ideas were tame in comparison. After finishing there I applied for university. I didn’t get in and so I went for work experience as a visual merchandiser at Harrods. Shortly after, I was offered a two week placement with fashion designer Zandra Rhodes. I was assisting the chief designer Ben Scholten with the SS 2010 collection. Well, 5 months later and after a trip to meet the buyers in Milan I was given a place at London College of Fashion to study pattern cutting and left with a high 2:1. Later, I went back to Zandra Rhodes as her Personal Assistant and gained the confidence to go it alone and start up the House of Ivory.
Where did you Meet Tempest Rose & The House of Burlesque?
I met tempest at the House of Burlesque’s monthly show ‘Burlesque Idol’. I went to the show nearly every month for about a year and a half before I got the courage to talk to her. I was very new on the scene and wasn’t sure how to approach her, or anyone for that matter. I was there as a guest of the MC of this event (Barnaby Slater) and eventually asked him to introduce me to Tempest. After that first conversation I had a good feeling that we would have a good relationship in the future and here I am now. I’ve been working with Tempest for just over a year, making several ‘one off’ costumes just for her, along with items for two of her shows.
What are your Costume Inspirations?
My inspirations come from lots of places, usually based around my mood and the music I listen to while in that moment. I do however look to the performers for my inspiration. If it is fashion or costume, I have always felt that the outfit should sit comfortably on the client/model/performer and match their personality or support the character they are trying to convey. Although I will still look for references from the past, there are stimuli everywhere today that catalyse invention.
What is it like to see your work on stage?
There is always an element of shock when I see performers wearing my clothes on stage. I think when you handle something for a long period of time it can loses some of its ‘sparkle’. Then when a performer brings it to life, there is always a sudden realisation that it was me who created the outfit, which is now seen in a new light. I have always found that mental and emotional disconnect-reconnect very interesting.
Do you have a favourite piece you have ever created?
I am proud of many of my items. It’s hard to choose a favourite as what I’m working on now is always my focus. If I had to choose the outfit I am most proud of for overall effect it would have to be the cage skirt and jacket that Tempest is currently wearing for London Wonderground. It is one of the pieces from my first collection that I showed late last year. Working out how to structure and balance it was really enjoyable and actually quite mathematical. Architecture has always pleased me visually and this was a good marriage between two of my passions.
What do you think makes a good Burlesque Costume?
It is hard to define what makes a good burlesque costume. I’m interested in more than just the superficial; I love working out how the costume works for the performer and the technical issues therein. Even the simple addition of a ribbon on a zip to enable the wearer(performer) to take it off more easily pleases me. I am also interested in the layering and interchange of costumes and the different effects their versatility allow.
You can catch Rob’s designs in action on our last London Wonderground show this Thursday 25th September or at BANGED UP! on the second Friday of every month at Madame JoJo’s
After out AMAZING penultimate show last night.. Check out what happens BACKSTAGE at The House of Burlesque. Video made by the fabulous Storm Hooper
After a fabulous sell out run of our Summer Speakeasy WE ARE BACK!
This Saturday sees the launch of our Saturday night Speakeasy! Don your feathers, your corsets and stockings and come to join Soho’s best kept secret.
We will have our early Saturday residency every Saturday! Show Starts 6:30-8pm. There is even a package option of your show with a Burlesque class before hand with one of our top performers!
More info and booking here…
I had the great pleasure of performing for the ‘Lates’ at The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House inspired by the Belle Epoque. Dancing in front of such famous and inspiring paintings was such an honour - thank you to The Courtauld for having me! Here are some shots from the event by Benedict Johnson Photography
Check out these exclusive backstage shots from the London Wonderground. Taken by one of our cast the gorgeous Lena Mae!
Only 3 more shows are available to book to see HOB at London Wonderground. Here are some fantastic snaps by Derek Bremner to give you a little taster - tickets are available here www.bit.ly/HoBwonder.
What the press say
'A deliciously decadent night that dazzles and delights all who attend'
*****The Gay UK
'If you like steamy sensuality and tongue-in-cheek sass, you'll feel at home in this house'
'A highly skilled piece of theatrical cabaret and - as the raucous reaction of this crowd attests - rip-roaring fun'
'There are not enough stars to describe just how brilliant it is, so go see it for yourself'
A Younger Theatre
'I implore you. Nay, I beseech you, if you’re torn between heading to a multiplex cinema to watch the latest shoot-em up or making that little extra effort to head south of the river, do it. The House of Burlesque are sure to give you a tantalising evening of sauciness and seduction'
After our first outing at the London Wonderground we cannot WAIT to get back on the stage. If you missed the show, you should know that a new BOYLESQUE star was born!! We just had to give you a little more of the man of the moment…
Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet - ESQUIRE DE LUNE!
Esquire, Tell us a little bit about your career thus far?
For the past 18 years I have been a professional commercial dancer specialising mainly in TV, pop tours, movies, hair shows, fashion shows, music videos etc. I have been fortunate enough to tour and perform with the likes of Robbie Williams and Take That, Girls Aloud, Shirley Bassey, Seal, Whitney Houston, Kylie and Tom Jones to name a few fabulous names. TV credits have included Xfactor, The Voice, BGT, Dancing on Ice and Strictly Come Dancing.
What has drawn you to the world of Burlesque?
I was drawn in to burlesque on an absolute whim, still to this day I don’t know what possessed me! I had met the lovely Tempest Rose a few times through the gorgeous Delores Deluxe and we were friends on Facebook, I saw her post about Boylesque Idol and decided for some strange reason that I’d enter. I’d never thought about it before so not sure what possessed me. I’m really glad I did though as I won the competition and here I am!!! Looking back I think initially it was more of a way to unleash some creativity and create some sexy, dark and mysterious numbers and characters……….and perhaps a little bit because I like to take my clothes off!!!
How did you construct your Boylesque Persona?
Actually before Esquire de Lune came about I had entered myself in Boylesque Idol as “Bambam le Bang” but when I started creating and conceptualising all my new numbers I just didn’t feel the name was appropriate. Bambam le Bang sounded very traditional, tongue-in-cheek burlesque but what I was creating was more a dark, atmospheric, dramatic kind of neo-burlesque style. I thought on it for a day and came up with Esquire de Lune. I then dug out a picture from a shoot I did a few years back that I thought summed up the character well, slapped a moon behind it and an Esquire de Lune name ribbon on the front and Bob’s your uncle!!
How would you describe your performance style?
My performance style as mentioned before is what I’ve learnt to be as neo-burlesque which is a more modern take on burlesque. Obviously coming from a dance back ground my performance is very dance based. I think you should always play to your strengths.
Having come from an alternate performance world, what advice would you give to any budding performers?
That’s a good question actually because what I learnt “very”quickly was no matter how accomplished a dancer I was or how much stage time I already had under my belt, burlesque is a totally different way of performing, I felt like I was starting all over again! Performing alone on stage is very nerve-wracking let alone when your taking your clothes off, I’ve learnt you really have to play to the audience ‘cause no matter how good you are, if you’re not involving them it just doesn’t work! You also have to exude sooo much confidence even if you aren’t particularly feeling it that day without coming across arrogant or cocky!
You can see Esquire de Lune in some of our upcoming Summer Speakeasy’s, Saturday’s at Madame JoJo’s - You can also catch him and the rest of the fabulous cast in our full run at the LONDON WONDERGROUND This Summer… EVERY THURSDAY THROUGHOUT AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER! DON’T MISS US!
"Forgive all those who call us strippers," Miss Tempest Rose drawls with a wink. After some sassy audience patter, she’s beginning House of Burlesque with a version of The Lord’s (or should that be Lady’s?) Prayer. It’s the perfect start to a show that reclaims burlesque for the act of female empowerment it should be. For too long it’s been in the hands of the male gaze, turned from satire into salacious teasing. But not under Miss Tempest Rose’s roof.
Check out our fabulous review from The Stage newspaper from our opening night here. “ This is empowering entertainment by women who own our eyeballing, rather than becoming objectified by it. It’s also a highly skilled piece of theatrical cabaret and - as the raucous reaction of this crowd attests - rip-roaring fun.”
Tickets for our run are available here: https://www.londonwonderground.co.uk/node/1118792