Saturday 23 February 2013

Interview with the Glamourous Burlesque Performer Gwendoline Lamour!

Photo by Tigz Rice Studios

Oh my you lot are being spoilt lately! I have yet another fabulous interview for you from elegant Gwendoline Lamour!
Gwendoline is the UK’s most exclusive and celebrated performer of high end burlesque and the perfect choice for prestigious parties, launches and events. With ten years experience of performing exquisite and refined shows for international clients, Gwendoline has represented Sir Elton John, (9th White Tie and Tiara Ball), Cointreau, Cirque du Soleil for Naomi Campbell’s birthday party, Jasper Conran, the Marquis of Bath, Eddie Izzard, The Sunflower Jam (with Robert Plant and Paul Weller), Theo Fennel and Diesel to name but a few. Heralded by The Independent on Sunday as the “Gypsy Rose Lee of our times,” and frequently featured on The Culture Show (BBC) among other TV and radio shows, Gwendoline’s work is elegant and stylish, reflecting her pre and post graduate training in theatre and dance.

A Lamour show is lavish, highly professional, exquisitely costumed and original pieces of burlesque theatre.

Gwendoline has worked all over the world from Moscow to Madrid, London to LA and almost everywhere in between. For more info check out her website

Photo by Tigz Rice Studios

How did you get into the burlesque industry?

In the early 1990s I was wearing bespoke corsets and extravagant 18th century and showgirl costumes to go to clubs like the Torture Garden and through that began to do pin-up modelling and Bettie Page style fetish modelling both here and in the US, which developed in to performing burlesque. My first ever show was at the Torture Garden.

I moved to London in 1991 to study for my degree in Theatre Arts and then trained as an actress, subsequently teaching movement, acting and directing in many of London's major drama schools. This stood me in good stead for burlesque performance, but I taught myself to fan-dance by watching old film footage of Faith Bacon and Sally Rand. Faith Bacon was one of the stars of Ziegfeld Follies, an elaborate Broadway theatre show that defined the concept of the beauty chorus/showgirl and ran from 1907-1931. It is key to note that the Ziegfeld Follies girls were trained in ballet, as were Sally Rand and Lily St Cyr. Ballet itself is the quasi descendant of Baroque dance which was the defining movement style of the court of Louis XIV. In the case of the 17th century aristocrat movement, dance and deportment were critical to the presentation of oneself as a moving work of art, and thus above the commonality of mankind. In the Ziegfeld shows there is a comparable physicality at work - the showgirls are serene and embody a rather patrician elegance and grace. It was a standing joke in the 20s and 30s that the picture press of the era was full of chorus girls behaving like duchesses and duchesses behaving like chorus girls. My choreography is ballet based with postures and moves influenced by the Zeigfeld Follies, pin-up art and 30s, 40s and 50s interpretation and idealisations of femininity.

How did the name Gwendoline Lamour come about and what does it mean to you?
Gwendoline is the name of 1940s/50s cartoon character by John Willie that appeared in Bizarre magazine. Lamour is a tribute to the 40s actress Dorothy Lamour and G Lamour spells Glamour!
Do you have a favourite routine/performance?
I don't have a favourite but my giant shoe is my signature prop so I always enjoy working with it! Being able to perform on full size theatre stages is always great because I get to use my big props and more extravagant costumes and have the space to really give full expression to the choreography.
You are on stage and being photographed a lot of the time. Looking after yourself must play a big part in your life. What are you favourite beauty products and why?
I use a range of plant based products by Mike Harmon at which are fantastic. He created a special hand-cream for Elizabeth Taylor and he has named his night-cream after me -which is a great honour! His products are gorgeous, free from the petroleum derivatives common to the major brands, cruelty free and full of essential nutrition for the skin. Aside from that I find body brushing and body moisturiser really good for the skin, I avoid sunbathing, use a sunblock and drink a lot of water.
Do you have a set beauty routine?
I always take off make up and cleanse and tone every night and put on lots of moisturiser!
On that note how to you keep yourself in shape for your performances?
Yoga is my main form of exercise, and then I pick and mix from ballet, baroque dance, zumba, running, Pilates and cycling.
Describe your fashion style?
On the whole I have two modes; elegant vintage or dance kit!
Where are you favourite places to shop?
I do lots of my shopping online, Ebay is a big fave - fabulous vintage finds to be had! I'm in the second year of my PhD at present so apart from delivering Swarovski crystal and stockings the postman also brings a lot of books!
What are your 3 must have pieces of make up?
A well defined eye-brow and flawless complexion are key to a 40s make up look, so I would choose my eyebrow kit 'Browzings' by Benefit and my Nars foundation and powder. Most of my make-up is Nars, their products are of a very high quality and unlike MAC they are cruelty free. Perhaps even more important though are my favourite brushes, I use an angled eye-shadow brush and an angled eyeliner brush for my eyebrows, I can manage with just about any product but the right brushes make life much easier.
What do you like to do with your time off from being Gwendoline Lamour?
My PhD takes up a lot of time, but I enjoy cross-stich tapestry and I read a phenomenal amount. Eventually me and my husband hope to move to the countryside, I'd love to keep chickens and have a really big garden! If I ever have the money I'd like enough land to buy a few male calves - the 'waste products' of the dairy industry. In the UK they are shot soon after birth, which is arguably better than the US and Europe where they end up in veal crates. I'd also like to buy a few cows that are coming to the end of the use to dairy industry (and therefore bound for the abattoir) to give them the chance to keep a calf and nurse it as nature intended, rather than having it removed so that humans can drink the milk. Needless to say I have a meat free and dairy free diet!
Who is your favourite burlesque performer to watch?
I greatly admire Dita von Teese and Catherine D'Lish, and of home grown talent Kitty Bang Bang is magnificent.
Who are your biggest inspirations and why?
For fan dancing Faith Bacon, but my shows are influenced by a variety of sources. 'The Swing' is based on Fragonar'd 1767 painting of the same name, whilst 'The Shoe' was inspired by a cartoon in Bizarre magazine (the original 1940s version) and the idea for my 'Petal Bath' came from pin-up art . For elegance and style I love iconic actresses like Lauren Bacall, Hedy Lamarr and Veronica Lake.
What advice would you give to a girl reading this interested in getting into this industry?
When I teach burlesque and fan-dancing I always stress the importance of posture and elegance in the performance of classic burlesque. If you don't have stage training it is advisable to get some; take acting and dancing classes, ballet is great for posture, strength and elegance. Also take the time to understand the history of the art-form, if you haven't heard of or seen Lili St Cyr, Faith Bacon, Sally Rand et al look them up! It's so easy now that everything is on youtube! Most of all - be yourself and discover your own burlesque alter-ego!

Thank you to Gwendoline for her time with this interview for me to share with you. Keep up to date with news on Gwendoline by checking her website or check out her Facebook Group!/pages/Gwendoline-Lamour/168084696580464?fref=ts
I have more very exciting interviews lined up for you so keep reading!xoxo

No comments:

Post a Comment