Monday, 19 April 2010

London Burlesque Week

Tomorrow is the opening night of London Burlesque Week, a global event that will feature everything from traditional 1940s burlesque (Annette Betty) to a Jesus Christ striptease (Paco Fish). As burlesque king Chaz Royal, the festival's founder says, "I have everything from mambo performers to outer space, underwater and winter themes. We'll take you on a round-the-world tour in 120 minutes."

I'm really intrigued to see how burlesque is interpreted globally and to see how burlesque is evolving. Now Topshop does spanking paddles and Dita Von Teese is the face of Wonderbra, burlesque has become arguably mainstream. Where will it go next I wonder?

The recession has had something of a positive effect on the burlesque scene, with audiences who would normally go to the theatre and musicals, opting for a more affordable alternative in burlesque and cabaret. And likewise, at the other end of the market, people are demanding more of an experience when they go out. I think entertainment is becoming more about highs (burlesque, rollerdiscos) and lows (old man pubs, poker nites in).

I think what things like London Burlesque Festival, along with La Clique (West End burlesque show) and Volupte (1940s supper club) and its ilk are doing successfully is packaging up burlesque as a big nite out, proper entertainment you can charge money for, as opposed to an underground club nite that always feels a bit pricey compared to the pub.

Burlesque is no longer being treated as just striptease but is fusing with cabaret, theatre, comedy, and circus. As it mainstreams (or becomes more accessible), it's becoming a broader form of entertainment and what I think is interesting, is that it's being treated more laterally. I think this is what could be a good opportunity for brands who want to get involved.

Will be reporting back later in the week on Burlesque Week.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Eroticised Athleticism

I've been thinking about this idea of 'eroticised athleticism' for a while, if that term doesn't sound overly wanky. If noughties aesthetics were defined by size zero culture, then my thinking is that with the onset of obesity, the food crisis, and an ageing population, combined with the impact of the recession, fantastic science (think functional foods and body augmentation) and the 2012"youth Olympics", the cult of thin is becoming less desirable and the superhuman, augmented physique of the athlete, the emerging global aesthetic.

Early signs of this include the success of David Gandy (the muscly hunk from the D&G Light Blue perfume ad) who is the world’s most successful male model right now. According to fan Mario Testino, Gandy’s body “radiates health and positivity”, which is exactly right for the times.

Fashion is driving this trend by giving sport an image makeover and sex appeal, and no brand has done more than bodycon temple American Apparel (Gucci's sci-fi athletic dresses this season really capture this trend too) .

Sports aesthetics are crucial to sports participation, according to the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, which reports that 23% of women say PE at school put them off sport for life and ugly and uncomfortable PE kits are the main culprit. The World Health Organisation’s new stance on tackling the obesity epidemic supports the athletic trend, stating that we should focus less on restricting diet, and more on promoting exercise as a counterbalance.

A report by The Future Laboratory, looking back at the world in 2020, brings to life this prediction. It reads: “After Gareth Pugh invited South African Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius down his 2020 spring/summer catwalk and People magazine dubbed a bionic Madonna the most beautiful woman alive, superhuman became the new aesthetic. Skinny was out, athletic was in. This had its roots in the ‘bodycon’ effect of the 2012 Olympics and the backlash against skinny models. Teenage girls started to lift weights rather than puke up their lunch. Kate Moss developed a six-pack and revealed her ultimate beauty secret to be high-protein egg whites. Anabolic steroids were the heroin chic of the 2020 fashion industry. Plastic surgeons and personal fitness trainers were the aesthetes and pop stars of the day.”

Read more about all this here