Exotic Underground Magazine

October 7th, 2005

Interview by Ophelia Derriere of Burning Hearts Burlesque

Q: First of all, how long have you been making your own costumes? Do you supply to a particular store?

Vienna: I've been making my own costumes since I was about 10 years old. Halloween was the "main event" in our household and my mom always encouraged me to sew. From there it really took off as I got older and became more interested in historical fashion and what went into say, a gown from 1700. The under things a lady would wear fascinated me, especially the corset. At age 12 I purchased my first corset after saving my pennies for months. I believe it was a reproduction 1890s style ribbon corset. Now that I am able to draft my own corset patterns, I save a ton of money and always have a unique design.
As far as where I get my supplies, it really depends on who has the best deal. I buy my Swarovski rhinestones wholesale and in bulk. For fabrics, I usually buy online from various sources or buy from local fabric stores in the Seattle area. I love Nancy's on Queen Anne, and their ribbon room is to die for!

Q: Where do you get your inspiration for what you will design? Any particular burlesque names you admire or use as your inspiration, past or present?

Vienna: I tend to look at basic silhouettes from various eras and go from there. Most of my inspiration comes from the past, and I absolutely love 1930s and 40s Hollywood and their versions of what was Victorian or 18th century. It always seemed like history "costumed", almost overdone, but still so glamorous and elegant. Costume designers from that time like Edith Head and Adrian never fail to inspire me.
Burlesque ladies such as Lili St. Cyr, Evelyn West, and Gypsy Rose Lee are probably the three biggest inspirations of my burlesque career. I know there are a few modern performers who have a similar vintage style, but I like to look at the source for ideas to put my own twist on.

Q: What is your goal with the clothes you create? What image are you trying to portray?

Vienna: With my costumes, it really varies on the theme of a performance. Sometimes I like to create a sense that the audience has suddenly stepped back in time to 1945. It can range from glamour and serenity to the playful pin up girl.
As for my clothes, vintage is more than just an image for me. I really like to wear those styles on a daily basis and sew my wardrobe from 1930s and 40s patterns. I choose to wear a pencil skirt instead of low-rise jeans, and I love to wear the 1940s tilt hats I collect and make.

Q: What is one piece of burlesque clothing or accessory you can't live without, or your favorite?

Vienna: Well since most establishments I perform at require it, I'd have to say the one thing I can't live without are my rhinestone covered pasties, haha!
The other would be my corset(s). That has to be my absolute favorite item.

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