Wednesday 13 July 2016

Interview with Beau Rocks Costumier

Continuing with my costume series I want to introduce you to someone who I am huge fan of. This lady is both a burlesque performer and costumier with garments made for some huge names you will recognise. When I think of her, I think rhinestones, glamour, class and feathers! Glaswegian born Beau Rocks is reminiscent of a Vargas pin-up girl with cute sass, flirty smile and unmistakably naughty sparkle in her eye. Her stage personal combines glamour with a heart-warming pinch of girl next door calamity. Beau is a well-established performer headlining shows both in the UK and internationally. Beau has been voted in the top 10 UK burlesque performers over the last few years and continues to delight audiences with her effervescently raunchy style and onstage presence.

Beau is a renowned costumier and has been making burlesque costumes and accessories since 2006. Having obtained a bachelor’s degree in fashion she is able to design, draft, fit and make all sorts of magical sparkly things. This is perfectly displayed with her craftsmanship of her own costumes.

I have interviewed Beau all about her costume business below!

Beau Rocks - Photo Ayesha Hussain
What is your background in garment construction and/or design and/or ornamentation? How long have you been costuming for?

Madonna Corset Didi DerrierePhoto V's Anchor Studio
I have always had a strong interest in sewing and fashion. My mum what a seamstress when I was very young and she would spend hours making me and my brothers cute little outfits, I was fascinated that she could make me dresses exactly how I wanted, things that no one else could have. I guess I wanted to be like her - so she got me my first sewing machine when I was seven. Fast forward a good few years and I graduated with an honours degree in Fashion Design and textiles. 

Having obtained a bachelor’s degree in fashion is your passion purely for making stage costume or have you spread into other areas too? Cosplay/theatre/dress-making/weddings etc?

Honestly, I am interested in the lot. I want to learn as much as I can and get experience in all different areas. Sometimes I wish I could just specialise in one area, but for me it’s just too interesting to do the same thing every day! I do evening classes and courses to learn new skills, my shelves are filled with technical instruction books - I guess I’m a bit of a geek!

How did you become involved in burlesque costuming?

I sort-of fell into burlesque performing - it’s not something I ever imagined I could do. I started performing with a cabaret troupe who costumed the show themselves; once I broke away from that it was only natural that I started making my own bits. 

What are some of the challenges of burlesque costuming?

Jo Folley Photo Suelan Allison
Every day is a new day. Every project is its own beast. I never get to use a pattern more than once and the problems you run into are never the same twice! I try to make everything I do for people as original as possible, which normally involved doing something for the first time every day!! If someone contacts me with a request that I feel someone else could do better job of I am always happy to pass them over to another creative. 

Describe some of your favourite projects?

Every time I finish a new project I declare that it is my 'most favorite ever!!' I guess I love them all, I have recently made a Jean Paul Gaultier 'Madonna' corset for Didi Derriere, and honestly, its stunning and looks so beautiful on her. I’ve also just finished a beautiful costume for Havana Hurricanes new 'supervixen' act, it was technically very difficult to make but the final costume definitely has serious WOW factor.

Which performers can we see wearing some of your work?

Ayesha H, Betsy Rose, Miss Noir, Kitty Bang Bang, Polly Rea, FKA Twigs, Havana Hurricane, Lady May Den-Voyage, I love seeing these girls rock their costumes on stage and in photos. 

Who would you love to make a costume for?

Honestly, anyone who has creative vision and want to bring an idea to life, I don't have a bucket list of performers I want to see in my creations. 

Lady May Den-Voyage
Photo David Kerr
Have you always had a design in your head that you would like to fulfil?

I have many, they haunt me until they are made, this is why every corner of my house is filled with costumes!!

What aspect of costume making do you enjoy the most?

Seeing it in action, the final product helping the performer do their thing, it's pretty special seeing it all come together and pop onstage. 

If a new performer was looking to get a costume commissioned/constructed, what should they consider?

I think it is important to be inspired by many different things - not just the world of burlesque. I fear a lot of new performers feel like they have to be like more established acts if they want to get ahead, but ironically that is the exact opposite of what will get you noticed. If you can think it, you will be able to find people to help you make it a reality, and that is a wonderfully exciting thing. 

What difference would a new performer find from off the rack to commissioned pieces?

Bettsie Bon Bon
Photo Ayesha Hussain
Like I said, if you can think it, I can make it. Getting something made for you is pretty special. Most people in the 'real' world have never had a garment made especially for them by a skilled crafts WOMAN(!), with exception of maybe a wedding dress. So take advantage of that, push the designer and get creative, create something that you know is yours and yours alone.  

Do you do courses at all from pastie making, general repairs, how to embellish/crystal, etc or do you save you skills for your own work?

Honestly, at the moment I barely have time to feed the cat or wash my hair, so in short no! It’s something I would consider doing in the future though. 

What would you consider important performer must have items?

Good glue to keep your tassels on, other than that I think each person should have their own must haves in their performer wardrobe. For me, I love a strappy thong and luxury ostrich boa. 

How long on average does it take to make a costume?

For a full costume I like to have at least 3 months from start to finish. That way I have time to mull it over in my head, research and find the best resources, order all the components, design and draft the pattern, make a toile and do a couple of fits - all this before I start to make the final product. The actual making doesn't take that long - maybe a week, but all the prep work is so time consuming and lengthy, if you want it done right. My advice is don't rush your designer, you will get a much better result if you give them enough time to do it properly. 

What are you most asked for/popular items?
Miss Demi Noir
Photo Suelan Allison

At the moment it's lingerie. I don’t know if there are many other costumiers making bras, but that seems to be a big one. And ostrich of course, fans and boas are always popular. 

How should a performer care for their costumes?

Let them breath as often as possible, try not keep them stuck in plastic bags etc after a show. Don't use body creams or perfume when on stage and try and not get deodorant on the costume, over time these things will kill your pretties. Clean and repair regularly, don’t let that little snag become a rip!

What would you like to experience in your creativity and/or your business in the near future? 

At the moment I am really interested in embroidery - it takes forever but it is definitely a string I want on my bow. I would love to be able to incorporate it into my work.

What are your long term plans for Beau Rocks Costumier business?

I have my finger in many pies at the moment, testing the water to see what is feasible long term. I have been performing for almost 10 years so it’s not unlikely that I will be pulling back from doing as many shows to concentrate on costuming, so there is definitely change afoot. You will just need to wait and watch I guess! 

Betsy Rose - Photo from Beau Rocks
I would like to thank Beau Rocks for her time with this interview. For more on Beau Rocks check out her website and Etsy storeStay tuned for more coming soon!


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