I’d like to extend my congratulations to Leluxe Clothing, an official supporter of Lindy Shopper, whose gorgeous reproduction 1920’s dresses were featured in The Artist, which brought home not only the Academy Award for Best Picture, but also the award for Best Costume Design. Mark Bridges, costumer for the film and the recipient of the Best Costume Design Oscar, used several of Leluxe’s dresses when costuming the cast for the film. Here’s a great article on Leluxe’s “Rags to Riches” story and its involvement with the film. Bravo!
One of the biggest challenges for me this year has been finding costumes for The Carolina Fascinators, an all-girl jazz performance troupe that I organize. When I started thinking about costumes I contacted Casey Schneider of Sister Kate to find out where they had been finding costumes, because the Sister Kate girls always look so put together – and by that I mean, from head to toe, each girl looks like she is in a professional costume with a well-thought-out thematic that goes with the routine and the music. Casey agreed that this was not an easy task and that the Sister Kate girls were lucky to have some really creative and talented seamstresses in their ranks.
I’m no great seamstress, but I was determined to find costumes that would evoke the swing era and not fall prey to the “sexy” Halloween costumes or gaudy modern “jazz” costumes. Where do I find that Busby Berkeley-inspired costume today and not pay an arm and a leg for a custom costume?
I later ran into Kristen Minsky, of the Minsky Sisters, at an event she organized in Durham for her cabaret, Chifferobe. For one of her performances she wore a fully sequined dance costume that was very 1920’s and looked like it was custom made for her. In a way it was, and it wasn’t – she ordered it from Sequin Queen, an online retailer of sequin dresses and costumes, who have samples you can choose from, but then everything else, from the fit to the sequin color, is customized for your needs. If this looks like drag queen garb, that’s because it is (even RuPaul gave this place a nod on her show, Drag Race) – but if you push aside the Suzanne Sugarbaker pieces, you can find some gems here. The prices are amazing for custom, sequin dresses and some of the samples are made with a stretch base, to allow for less-restrictive movement. I’d love to see more sparkle in swing dance performances and I think some of these costumes would work well for performance teams as well as solo jazz and Charleston.
If you have ever come across a 1920’s beaded gown for sale, odds are the retailer was asking upwards of $1,000 for the dress, if in mint condition. If not in mint condition, then the seller was still asking hundreds of dollars for the garment. Even then, there was no guarantee that the dress would not disintegrate upon wearing, and dancing in it was out of the question.
I could only lust after these dresses, wishing I could cut a rug and hear the soft swishing of beads like the dancers in the Great Gatsby movie.
The unattainable is now attainable. Leluxe Clothing Company offers hand beaded dresses in modern materials that give you the quality and craftsmanship of a 1920’s beaded dress without the worry that the dress will fall apart.
According to the web site, “LeLuxe Clothing Company was founded in 2000 with the goal of continuing the traditions of design and craftsmanship of a bygone era. Working in the costume houses of Hollywood, owner Jill Schliesmann realized the fragile creations of diaphanous cottons, laces, and beaded silks were being lost to time. She and her husband, Shane Burroughs, recognized a void that needed to be filled – a style that needed to be revived so that those creations could live again. LeLuxe Clothing Company makes the fun and luxury of the Jazz Age accessible to the Twenty-first Century. The combined experiences of Ms. Schliesmann and Mr. Burroughs gives them insight into the specialized needs of the entertainment industry, the demands of cutting-edge fashion, and the fascinating sphere of collecting, preserving, and restoring vintage clothing. LeLuxe Clothing Company not only offers faithful reproductions of period designs, but also a number of exclusive designs created in the spirit of the 1920’s – dresses that embody creative energy, sharp design, and a wonderful sense of whimsy.”
These dresses are stunning. And sparkly. And wearable! They come in a variety of lengths and the owners have noted which dresses are best for dancing. The fit on 1920’s dresses does not have to be exact, which makes these dresses easy to size because the dress can be as fitted or loose as you want it to be. All of the dresses have different measurements, there is no uniform sizing, so pay close attention to the measurements before purchasing or dismissing.
The dresses are mesh, so a slip is an essential part of the ensemble. Leluxe also offers slips that are made to go under these dresses in a number of different colors. Depending on the look you want or the dress you have chosen, you can mix up the shape and the color of the slip.
As if the beaded dresses weren’t enough to make Leluxe fabulous, they also carry dreamy white cotton dresses with vintage embroidery. Everything is so lovely here!
It’s going to be hard to narrow this down and not post every dress on the web site, but here’s a sampling of these glorious dresses (most come in multiple colors):