The Showgirl’s Dressing Room

Behind the velvet curtains, beyond the rails of sequins, between the headdresses of feathers and rhinestones, after the lights go down and the show’s over: there’s a little place where the real magic happens.

It’s the showgirl’s dressing room, and it’s where the inspiration for the Soirée SS16 collection comes from.

Out front it’s a riot of silver champagne buckets, slithering pythons, high rollers and higher kicks. But back here it’s a different kind of riot: eyelash glue and hairspray, secrets shared and friendships forged. Bad boyfriends, great trips, threesomes, diets, addictions, neuroses; not much is left unsaid within these walls.

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Before the show they tinkle in one by one, off-duty legs encased in fraying denim, blistered dancer’s feet in trainers. Maybe they came on the bus; maybe they had to clean up their dog’s mess on the carpet before they left, maybe they were running late because they had a long distance call with their sister.

Maybe they seem like ordinary pretty girls in the street but once they’re in this room, the transformation begins. Here they become rare birds of paradise, ready to light up the night like a fantail of sparks in the dark.

3 coats of mascara. 250 hot rollers. 4000 pounds of feathers. £10,000 of rhinestones.

Being a dancer is a brief and transient joy. It’s a triumph over gravity and over the laws of physicality. It doesn’t last forever but while it does it’s like being able to fly.

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Nobody really understands that. Except, of course, all the other pretty birds. The other dancers – hard-working women with ballet degrees and speckled pasts and driven discipline – are the closest thing you have to family as a showgirl.

When the final curtain has fallen and the tables out front have been cleared; the headdresses have come off, the lashes have been removed, the girls sit in the dressing room in various degrees of nakedness: limbs draped over chairs, tassels still dangling from their breasts, silver chains now still against their flesh. In the dimmed quiet they are more feminine, more fascinating than ever. Because they’re in it together. Here in the dressing room, they are part of a sisterhood: the sisterhood of sequins, sparkle and seduction.

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Written for Agent Provocateur, edited by Emma Salter

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