Wednesday 26 March 2014

Photoshoot with Marissa Tammisalo

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of having a photoshoot with my dear friend Marissa Tammisalo for her graduation project. While I still can't give you details about the idea behind the photoshoot, I can share a couple of gorgeous images that came out of it! And I will of course let you all know when her exhibition is up, so you can go have a look at the rest of the amazing pictures as well ;-)

The Crazy Juggler
picture by Marissa Tammisalo Photography

Mata Hari
picture by Marissa Tammisalo Photography

Tuesday 25 March 2014

My profile at the London Burlesque Festival website

Ok everybody! I don't remember ever asking for something like this, but I need your help now! If my profile page at the London Burlesque Festival website gets 300+ likes I will get extra publicity in their website, which is something I could really use! So if you have an extra minute please click on the link below and like my LBF performer page, no registering needed nor any further actions! thank you so much <3

(and of course, feel free to share too!)

Pepper Sparkles

Wednesday 19 March 2014

1930's yellow woolen swimming suit

So today's post combines two great obsessions of mine! One of them being "older" vintage swimming gear (1900-1939) and the other the colour yellow. 

As was expected, also with swimmingwear I'm mostly a fan of the creations of the first part of the century, and I've been trying to get myself at least one swimming suit of each of my favourite eras. Of course it's a rather difficult mission for many reasons (the main one of them being how old they are), but last summer in Rauma I was lucky enough to find the first one of them! Which happened to be a 1930's woolen swimming suit in the absolutely perfect shade of yellow. 

Swimming gear saw a boom in the late victorian and edwardian eras, since many doctors started to recommend sea water as healthy, and European monarquies made many coastal destinations extremely popular (such as for example Biarritz, in my native Basque Country). The main problem in this era though was that women wore corsets 24/7, plus were covered from neck to toes, so the edwardian swimming gear can much more appropiately be described as "swimming dresses" rather than "swimming suits". They looked like nothing that may come to our minds if we think about a swimming suit! 
These swimming dresses usually consisted of loose bloomers and a dress on top of them, and it wasn't rare at all that the ladies would be wearing the corset underneath plus stockings etc. I'm not quite sure swimming was even practically possible in these outfits, but they were mostly used for having walks on the beach with the water up to the knees. A few extremely daring ladies tried to promote a skin-tight swimming suit (closer to what men used), which had half-sleeves and was long to almost the knees, but they were considered extremely indecent and some even got arrested. 
These kind are extremely difficult to find, few have survived due to their age and that also makes it so that the prices go really high at bids. I did actually find one last summer at Fintage's event Suvi Vintage, but unluckily enough it was way too small for me (believe me, I tried really hard to fit in! :-D) and it found a new loving home with my dear friend Marianne. 

edwardian era swimwear

The 1920's brought a real revolution to women's clothing, with the straightening of the figure, the ditching of the corset and the shortening of the hems, and the change could definitely also be noticed in the swimming clothing. Women started to wear something very similar to what men wore in edwardian times, which was a combination of a pair of tight "trousers" and a dress on top reassembling a long tank-top. Unlike in the edwardian era, this garments were now skin tight, which meant women could finally enjoy a beach outfit that was reasonably practical. 
These dresses were usually made of knitted wool (which is the main reason why wearable ones are difficult to find, most have been more or less nibbled in by moths), and even though extremely more revealing than their counterpads from the edwardian period the length (or their shortness) was regulated by law! Which meant they couldn't be any shorter than a certain distance from the knees, and as you can see below it was a law that was indeed enforced!

1920's swimwear

In the 1930's women's swimming suits finally started to look like what we nowadays consider a swimming suit. Most of the leg was finally showing, and they had an open back. They were mostly still made out of knitted wool, which means many of the surviving pieces have moth damage, and they were often worn with my other great swimwear-related obsession: the beach pajamas. Beach pajamas were overalls made of lightweight fabric and with very wide legs, and usually displayed the craziest and most fun art deco designs you can imagine. I have seen them listed in ebay now and then, but unluckily enough they usually go for pretty high prices, so I might have to end up making a repro pair for myself someday! 

1930's swimwear

As I said, I've been searching for all these three kinds of swimming outfits like crazy for a while now, so I was absolutely ecstatic when I came accross this authentic 1930's swimming suit! And if that weren't enough, it was absolutely in mint condition and knitted out of wool in my absolutely favourite shade of yellow (my favourite colour is in fact grey, but yellow has been my new obsession for a couple of years now).
One good thing about the knitted material is that it stretches, so to my delight I found out the swimming suit was a perfect fit. I was a bit afraid of moth bites, but against all odds it didn't seem to have any bites either! It even made me overcome my scepticism about actually going swimming in a woolen swimming suit, since not only did it not get saggy when wet, but the material seemed to get much less soaked than other materials used nowadays. 

my 1930's woolen swimming suit

And finally a picture of me wearing this beauty a couple of weeks ago, at this year's Helsinki Burlesque Festival! As you may know, the theme this year was Tropical Hurricane, so Sandy and Gigi decided we should go in swimming wear on Friday! Which was a great idea, because it was the perfect excuse to wear this beauty in winter ;-)

Thee Dizzy Daisies by the amazing Atelieri O. Haapala, HBF2014

Sunday 16 March 2014

Fleamarket finds, Vol.3

Besides the new burlesque costume I posted about earlier, I'm currently also working on a new bellydance costume. And this time I decided to finally try out something that's been tempting me for a while, which is using buttons instead of coins! I will elaborate on this in the future when the costume is finished, but I mentioned it mostly in order to explain why I've been hunting for buttons in charity shops for the last week or so. 

After work on Friday I decided to visit a new charity shop I had never been to before, and besides a bunch of the buttons I needed I also managed to get a couple of vintage treasures: a 1940's tablecloth and some vintage buttons. 
The tablecloth isn't maybe extremely spectacular, as this kind isn't so difficult to find and one sees them in fleamarkets every now and then, but it was in pristine condition and only cost 2.5€! The buttons I found while hunting for the ones I needed for the bellydance costume. I found quite a few fabric covered white buttons in two sizes, that are usually quite hard to find nowadays, and are for example perfect for vintage repro underwear. Besides those I found three really cute wooden square buttons. I'm not sure if there are old, but even if they aren't this is a precious find since wooden buttons and buttons in any other shape than round (and in a proper material) are almost impossible to find nowadays! I still have no idea what I'll be using them for, but I'm sure they'll look pretty wherever they end up ;-)

1940's tablecloth and vintage buttons

Thursday 13 March 2014

New solo act in the making: sneak peek

I've been wanting to create a feather fan act for a few years now, but they are one of the biggest clichés in burlesque and I wanted something with a bit of a twist. I'm still not sure if I will succeed in making it a bit less of a cliche, but at least I think the idea is unusual! I decided to make a seaweed act, so that the fans themselves would also be seaweed. I came up with this idea over a year ago, but I wasn't even finished with my Mata Hari act then, and before I could start working on this one I came up with the idea for The Chap and an irresistible urge of it being my next :-)

Nevertheless, now it's finally time for my Algae act! I have barely started to work on the costume yet, but I'm showing you a few sneak peek pictures of some of the materials. Why? Well, to tease you of course! ;-D
And because I'm absolutely in love wih the indian textiles I'm using for this one, sewing is a pleasure with them! 

left top: gorgeous indian textiles, left bottom: unusual
coloured feather fans, right: some trim and fringe

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Women's day in Tallinn

When one lives in Helsinki, travelling to Tallinn is roughly twice as cheap as for example travelling to Tampere (a Finnish city about 1:45mins by train), and if you add to that how cheap everything is compared to Finland one could easily understand why it's such a popular destination. 
As a burlesque performer who makes most of her costumes though, there is an even more important reason for travelling to Tallinn, and its name is Karnaluks. Karnaluks is a huge store full of everything one may want for the making and embellishing of costumes (except maybe fabrics), and not only are they many times cheaper than equivalents found in Finland, but I would guess 80% of the products CAN'T EVEN BE FOUND in any shop in Finland. I guess some of you lucky people living in London or the States are used to these kind of stores, but I personally almost had a heart attack the first time I was introduced to Karnaluks. 

Since I am at the moment working on a new act, and one of the ferry lines that does Helsinki-Tallinn happened to have discounted prices a few weeks ago, my dear friend Tiitta and me decided to book a day-trip for the 8th March. 

happy faces in the ferry

What we actually didn't know, but found out as soon as we visited a couple of stores, was that it seems they have crazy sales in Tallinn on women's day! So the shopping part of our trip was even a bigger success. 
The first and most important stop was in Karnaluks, because it was the store that closed the earliest. I found almost everything I had written down on my "shopping list" (and absolute must-have unless you want to end up buying tons of things you don't even need!), and still found one crazy pretty trim in another store called Kangadzungel. This already took a few hours, so by the time we were done with the shopping, we were starving!

The other reason why I absolutely love day-trips to Tallinn is that food and drinks are much much cheaper than in Finland, so you can actually pamper yourself with a small budget. Our first stop was an indian restaurant called Bollywood in the Old Town, which Tiitta knew from previous visits. We got one of the low tables next to the window, so we could enjoy our food surrounded in cushions :-)

waiting for the food in Bollywood

Since it was a special occasion, and we had agreed to pamper ourselves, we decided to have a piece of cake and hot cocoa for dessert. For that we chose one of the cutest cafeterias I've ever been to, which is a tribute to the amazing Josephine Baker. This cafeteria is also in the Old Town, and their selection of homemade cakes and chocolates is really impressive! (besides dangerous)
We decided to go for a hot cocoa each and a piece of chocolate cheesecake and a piece of calvados/white chocolate cake to share.  

taking pictures inside isn't allowed, so the 
lower pic is from

And of course no pampering day would have been complete without a proper cocktail! And for that we headed to African Kitchen, which is an amazing little restaurant in the edge of the Old Town (conveniently close to the harbour) that not only has exquisite food but also absolutely delicious cocktails! The cocktails are named after African countries, and the one I tried this time was called Zaire. I liked it so much I may repeat next time!

After that we headed to the ferry and back to Helsinki, but we're definitely coming back soon! 
Tallinn I love you <3

cocktail awesomeness in African Kitchen and some
of my Karnaluks loot in the ferry, pics by Tiitta

Monday 10 March 2014

Helsinki Burlesque Festival Week 2014 <3

I'm back! The whole festival was once again so absolutely mindblowing, that it took me this long to catch up with everything else and be able to write again. I can begin by saying that even though every year feels like the festival has already reached the top of awesomeness, producers Bettie Blackheart and Frank Doggenstein, and the whole Helsinki Burlesque crew manage to put together an even more epic show, and this year was no exception!

Although the actual events are only on Friday and Saturday, many of the talented international performers are invited to teach workshops in a wide variety of subjects, so the whole festival craziness actually lasts for about a week. This year my "festival week" started on Thursday, when I had the honour and pleasure of attending Perle Noire and Kitten de Ville's workshops. 
Perle totally blow my mind, both during the workshop and her acts! I don't think it's even possible to get the actual feeling of awe and energy she projects unless you see her live, but I can tell you that when you do you know you have a real force of nature in front of your eyes! <3
Kitten de Ville aka The Queen of the Quake definitely deserves this nickname, and she had us all sweating our bums off even before we were through with the warmup! I think her class was extremely useful for me because, after having been studying tribal fusion bellydance for the last year and a half, I have noticed that I really needed a reminder of how to really shimmy and shake burlesque-style, and this lady definitely knows what she's talking about! <3

after the workshops with amazing Perle Noire and
Kitten de Ville <3 (pics by Cherry Turrrbo-Cherry D
and Sandy Jungle)

After the workshops we headed for the hotel for a little meet & greet with some of the performers that had already arrived. It was so much fun! We got to both see some very dear friends again after a long time and make a bunch of new ones. It actually felt so cozy that it was difficult to leave and go to sleep, but I had to wake up early and go to work the following morning! 

with some absolutely amazing ladies! Mama Ulita from 
Germany, my gal Sandy Jungle and the lady with the
perfect hair, Koko la Douce <3 (pic by Sandy)

Two of the new friends that I'm extremely happy to have met are Mama Ulita and Lada Redstar <3
Mama Ulita has such a crazy positive and contagious energy that I just wish she moved to Finland and could go for a coffee with her everytime I have a bad day! I'm so so extremely happy I'll get to see her again soonish, since we're both performing on the same night of the London Burlesque Festival <3
I've been looking forward to meeting Lada for a long time now, so I was delighted when it finally happened! This lady isn't only drop dead gorgeous, but she is also intelligent and the kind of vintage enthusiast I can totally relate to, so chatting with her was a real pleasure! As was watching her on stage again, this fierce lady is definitely a source of inspiration <3

with Lada Redstar, Lassi, and the head of the
HBF photographer team Tuomas (pic by Gigi)

After a long day at work on Friday, it was time for the real party to begin! My gal Gigi Praline and her husband Aatu (who was this year working his bum off driving all the performers back and forth between the hotel, workshops and venue) live in the countryside some 45mins away from Helsinki, so they booked a hotel room and were kind enough to invite us over for etkot (aka pre-party). The festival's theme this year was Tropical Tornado, so we ended up wearing swimwear on Friday! I got to wear my dear 1930's yellow woolen swimming suit, of which I'll post better pictures at some point in the near future. Just a bit before we left for the venue we were joined by our dear Pepper Potemkin from Stockholm, who is a real kick-ass rocker lady and a lot of fun to hang out with! She was on stage on both Friday and Saturday, and I'm delighted that she's also performing on the same night of the London Burlesque Festival as Mama Ulita and me <3

etkot! <3
(pic by Pepper Potemkin)

Friday was a blast! Such a blast that we only left the venue at some point after 3am, which meant just some 4.5h of sleep before Saturday morning's workshops, but it was so worth it! <3

with our dearest Scotty the Blue Bunny, HBF is
not the same without this humor and wit <3
and the combination of him and Minna Kivelä
must be my favourite presenters ever! (pic by Gigi)

Saturday was my birthday! And I couldn't have wished for a better one <3 (ok, I could have gotten a couple of hours more of sleep :-D). It started with the workshops of super creative and extremely inspiring Imogen Kelly, and one of the most respected photographers in the burlesque scene, Neil Kendal. 
Imogen's workshop was specially interesting because this lady has a background that is a bit more unusual in the burlesque scene; her roots are in the theatre and the circus and has been a theatre director for over 20 years. Her approach was extremely useful to me, since I am mostly interested in developing my acts and characters in a theatrical way, and having a storyline has always been vital to my performing style. 

After Imogen and Neil's workshops, my man treated me to absolutely mindblowing and delicious food in Juuri, which is a restaurant in Helsinki with food so unbelievably tasty that makes me feel like I'm back in the Basque Country. All the ingredients they use are organic (even the wines), and one can really tell since regular food from the store would never reach such intensity of flavours. After dinner, and with a very happy belly, it was time to head to the venue again, for another evening of awesome performances. 

My Saturday's outfit was partly inspired by Tribal Fusion bellydance, which itself uses different ethnic styles/adornments as inspiration sources. I will elaborate a bit more on this outfit also in the near future, but I can say that the facial decoration was inspired by a facial tattoo of a Berber tribe from Algeria, and the shawl that covered my head was a new Assuit shawl made in Egypt. 

with my dear Tiitta and Laura, tribal sisters <3
(pic by Laura)

The rest of the outfit had little to do with tribal inspiration, but I've had this crazy dress for years now and I only got to briefly wear it once (for obvious reasons) at a friend's birthday party! But hey, as my dear Gigi says "This year's festival was all about bums".

found a friend-in-outfit on Saturday :-D
(pic by Gigi)