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Costumes and corsets and prosthetic chins…oh my!

May 20, 2011

No, fine people of the internet, your eyes do not deceive you. May has in fact brought a THIRD visit from me to Blogland.

You may have read my previous post where I briefly mentioned awaiting news of my soon-to-be, hope-to-Jesus, escape from my day job in medical administration, and on Tuesday I finally got the news that I’ve been officially accepted to do a two year costume design course in Dublin, starting in September…I get to make crowns!

I am gonna look flyyyy...

I’m very happy and very excited about the whole thing. Despite the obvious intrinsic value I get from my job processing red tape and restocking scan gel, I came to the not-so-shocking realisation a few months ago, that life is just too short to spend doing something you have little to no interest in. Generally, I’ve been pretty sensible and practical in my life decisions thus far. I got a good Leaving Cert, I got a good Psychology degree, and I got jobs that allowed me to pay my rent and have my fun while I figured out exactly what to do with the aforementioned degree. The only problem was that I could never quite work out exactly what that was, and as 2008 became 2009 became 2010, etc. I have to admit getting a little bit worried about why exactly I couldn’t see any kind of clear picture of a future for myself.

Eep.

It was only about 6 months ago that I figured out that maybe the reason I couldn’t reach any kind of decision about what to do with my degree, was because maybe it wasn’t right at all, at least not for right now. And strangely enough, as soon as I decided to apply for the course, and actually made up my mind to pursue it as a career, it all seemed to just fall into place. I am now happy to say that I can, in fact, picture myself a few years down the line, covered in pin pricks, surrounded by fabric and up to my eyes in corsets and wigs. Huzzah!

Pictured: The future.

It may not be the smartest, safest or financially wisest move I ever make, but right now I’m pretty certain it’s the right one for me. And sure, if I’m not going to get a job anyway with our economy the way it is, I may as well not get a job in something I actually love! Carpe diem and all that jazz!

Betty and Pearl’s first photoshoot!

May 12, 2011

Two weeks ago, Betty and Pearl had its very first photoshoot, and like a proud mother, I have been flashing the photos at anyone who’ll look at them since! My dream team included the crazily talented photographer, Yvonne Ryan (who you should all check out on facebook), star stylist, Byron Yeates, and model extraordinaire, Ciara O’Doherty. The shoot took place in my (tidied for the occasion) bedroom, but with Yvonne’s fancy professional lighting equipment and a few sheets of temporary wallpaper you’d never know it (…at least I hope it’s temporary, this is a rented house!). Byron whipped Ciara’s hair into three vintage-inspired styles to suit the three different items we were capturing and then Ciara worked her own magic in front of the camera. For my part, I pretty much just ran around with my own camera taking behind-the-scenes shots, trying not to get in the way. I also provided cake.

The dream team themselves. Aren't they lovely?

(Cup and) saucy!

A natural behind the camera, and in front of it!

Lookin' good B!

Lesson to take away: cake is key to a good photoshoot.

The photos are mostly supposed to function as press photos. We chose three different looks, with a combination of three different bags and three different headpieces (all of which are, or will soon be available on my website), which I think covers quite well, the different styles Betty and Pearl caters to. Look one included the prettily romantic “Bed of Roses” bag, along with the “All A’Flutter” headpiece, both of which feature rose petals aplenty, with the headpiece topped off with pretty glittering butterflies.

 Look two showed off the more signature Betty and Pearl style, with the “Earn Your Wings” feather headpiece in red and the “Hey Dollface” kisslock bag featuring quite possibly  my favourite print to date which was scattered with little Russian dolls!

Finally look three, showcased my new secret weapon, and the reason my bedroom carpet is now contantly covered in glitter. I’m pretty sure I’ve inhaled a fair amount of the stuff at this stage as well. Featuring swathes of the most wonderful sparkling, glittering material in the world (fact), is the “All That Glitters” clutchbag and the “Heart of Gold” fascinator.

I have to say I’m even happier with the end results than I thought I’d be, and would like to thank once again, my  three wonderful friends who helped me out so well with them. You’re all only lovely! And didn’t my babies do well! (By babies, I am of course referring to my B&P items…not my friends. That would be creepy really, wouldn’t it?) For a closer look at any of the pieces so beautifully captured in the above photos, head on over to BettyandPearl.com

Promises promises!

April 28, 2011

This is not a real blog post, but it is a list of promises for what is to come:

1. New photos – Betty And Pearl had it’s very first professional photoshoot last night! The wonderfully talented photographer, Yvonne Ryan has done an amazing job on the vintage-inspired shoot, aided and abetted by stylist extraordinaire, Byron Yeates, and all modelled by the beautiful Ciara O’Doherty. Even before the final touches, the photos look great. I’m really thrilled with them, and excited to share them with the world in a few days!

2. Glitter – So much freaking glitter, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Mardi Gras! My floor, my furniture and my clothes have ended up coated in the stuff, but it’s worth it. Sparkly, bright and oh-so 80s, I’ve teamed it all with pretty and quirky fabrics for my new Spring/Summer collection.

Glitter can, howeverr, also be mismanaged.

3. Hopefully – hopefully! – I will also soon have news about my soon-to-be escape from medical administration and complete abandonment of my Psychology degree for something much less safe, but much more fun!

I know, I know...what could be more fun than medical administration?

Stay tuned!

Playing dress-up (with added nipple flashing)

February 17, 2011

A few months ago my best friend and I went to Paris for a weekend. We stayed in the cheapest hotel possible, where the bathroom was so small that the bathroom door had to be open to be able to get into the shower. In between wandering the vast halls of the Louvre, falling in love with Montmartre and drinking overpriced alcohol in bars filled with overbearingly beautiful people (preceded, of course, by swilling cheap vodka in the comfort of our charming cupboard of a hotel room), we also paid a visit to Paris’ second-most famous burlesque show, the Lido. While not as well known as the Moulin Rouge, the opportunity to dress up, sip (i.e. swig) the complimentary bottle of champagne, and watch scantily clad ladies perform elaborate dance routines with even more elaborate set pieces was well worth the extravagant ticket price.

Champagne makes everyone more classy.

My highlight of the whole show however was the chance to see all the beautifully constructed and minutely detailed costumes. From glittering gowns and sparking tuxedos, to Aztec dresses and Indian saris, the abundance of rhinestones, sequins, silk and feathers, leather and lace combined to make each piece so spectacular that you barely even noticed the number of nipples flashing across the stage. By the end of the show, I was itching to break into their wardrobe department, if only to get a closer look at each and every seam, before disappearing into the night loaded down with ill-gotten crystals and lace trimmings – oh the trimmings!

Boobs? What boobs?

This lust for all things lovely and shiny has been with me from a young age, but returned to me full-force once again last week after witnessing the ballet costumes in Black Swan. While I found the story gripping and the performances excellent, what seized me most when leaving the cinema (aside from the confusing new feelings toward Mila Kunis!) was the intense desire to get my hands on those dance costumes. My dreams of becoming a ballerina myself were cruelly dashed at a young age by my parents refusing to let me have lessons (although a horrifically agonizing toe cramp a few days ago made me very grateful that my feet have not been subjected to the torture of en pointe twirling for the last 19 years). Despite this, my desire to dress in tutus, ribbons and silk has never left me…which, let’s face it, is the only reason my 5 year old self wanted to do ballet in the first place. Even back then I had no co-ordination.

 

Look at her flaunting her tutu and ballet slippers at me. Bitch.

Having no money, I’ve been trying to come up with cheap and easy ways to inject some Swan Lake loveliness into my life. While I have my eye on this should a sudden monetary windfall happen to come my way, I’ve mostly been keeping my eye out for lots of inexpensive silks and feather trimming with which to swathe myself in. I’ve already used feathers in my “In A Flap” headpieces (which, incidentally, can be purchased here!), and have just made 10 more to add to the collection, but I am now determined to replicate the piece that Natalie Portman wears as the White Swan – sparklingly white feathers and an abundance of crystals – just the thing to add a touch of costume drama to pints on the weekend!

A Stern Word With Myself

January 12, 2011

Jenny. Now that the New Year is well and truly upon us, it is more than time for you to make some resolutions when it comes to Betty and Pearl. You lost a bit of motivation there in the last few months of 2010. That’s fine, it happens to the best of us, but now is the time to refocus and get back on track. You know what you should do? You should make a list. Lists are great.

1. Make at least one new thing every week.

This is non-negotiable young lady. If you can make more than that, wonderful, but I want to see at least one new item fully completed by each Sunday evening without fail. What’s more, you are to add a new item to the website every week as well. Now then, that’s not too much to ask, is it? Don’t you look at me like that!

2. Figure out your new camera…

…And use it to take better, brighter and more professional photos. Be a bit more creative in your sets and props, and take advantage of your friends’ heads to model headpieces on. You have the tools, you should use them! (That was in no means an insult to your friends’ heads. Those are lovely.)

Such lovely, horrifying heads

3. Remember Etsy?

Do not ignore or lose faith in Etsy. You may not have found it as effective as you had thought you would, and you may not have the time to put the maximum effort and concentration into it like a lot of full-time sellers seem to, but it is an important and established marketplace, there for the taking. Take it!

4. Experiment

New shapes, materials, methods. Get out of your comfort zone a bit  and use your imagination. Learn how to make sleeves once and for all, that was always a tricky one…although maybe this time don’t go practising on your lovely expensive silk. Figure out this corsetry business – if nothing else, it will allow you to use the word “boning” more in every day conversation. That’s always a plus!

Always fun!

5. For God’s sake woman, update your blog more!

I’ll be realistic and put a minimum of one update per month on this, but again, if you can manage more, do it! I know it’s a pain that work blocked all the websites that you research your posts on, but there’s other time which would be better spent doing something constructive rather than sitting staring at facebook. It also completely frees up your work day to properly focus on quality control and document changes…That was supposed to be a good thing, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

6. Market your brand better.

Hell, market it at all!  Instead of just talking about it, find, research and approach Irish shops to see if they’d be interested in stocking your wares. Approach magazines, newspapers, and anyone else who you might be able to badger into giving you some publicity. Even if nothing comes of it, it certainly can’t hurt.

Except for the bitter sting of rejection.

Remember, you’re (hopefully) going back to college in September, and won’t be able to rely on poorly paid medical administration for money. If you put in enough work and effort now, there is the slightest chance that you might have established yourself enough by then to be able to support yourself on Betty and Pearl alone, and not have to resort to crappy retail yet again. I’m pretty sure we agreed that 5 years of that was more than enough!

7. Wear more silk.

That is all.

Ah..isn't imagination a wonderful thing.

8. Make famous friends…

…and use their fame to your advantage by forcing them to wear your brand. In fact, any of my friends right now with any aspirations or potential to become famous (and you know who you are!) should take this as a warning that I will not only be riding on your coat-tails but also insisting on making them, and making you tell all your other famous friends!

"Why, what lovely coat tails. Oh my, a Betty and Pearl original you say?!"

There now, you’ve got your goals for the year, it’s all nicely laid out, easy to follow, and even illustrated with poorly chosen political cartoons! Now all you have to do is follow these nice, simple steps and 2011 will be a productive year! And if you don’t, I will drag you back to your sewing machine by your ear and sew your sleeves to the table.

Love, Jenny x

This is Halloween!

October 26, 2010

Festive greetings one and all! As you are all aware, we are rapidly approaching the merriest of all seasons. The magic in the air, the sound of children’s laughter, the zombies ambling through the streets…oh, Happy Halloween everyone! Can you believe it’s rolled around again already! It seems like only yesterday that I woke up sprawled across my bed in full Little Dead Riding Hood costume after last year!

At least I was smart enough not to pass out in view of a camera!

Now I take Halloween quite seriously. I don’t do shop bought costumes. I’m more than happy to get covered in glue, suffer through pin pricks and coated in face paint, and to make an absolute ass of myself to really get into the swing of things! Why blend in with all the other Sexy Cats, Sexy Builders, Sexy Traffic Wardens or Sexy Houses around, when you could be anything…ANYTHING!…for one night only! Now, I do have to admit, while I’m good at making costumes, I’m not as adventurous as I could be with my costume choices most years. Last year, as I mentioned, I was Little Dead Riding Hood, complete with gouge marks and dragged-through-a-bush hair, and the year before I was Snow White, although, having very fair skin, black curly hair and being a fan of red lipstick, that one was pretty easy. I’m shown up by  my friends every year, who go all out and manage to come up with the most original and most enthusiastic costumes every single time! My friend Martha is very good, and manages to employ every inch of her imagination every year. She’s been a robot (with fully working front electrical panel), a skunk, a Siamese twin, and last year a Troll. Not the under the bridge variety now, I’m talking about the doll, complete with oversized hands and feet, uberly-tanned skin, and enough orange-coloured hairspray to tango an army. Another friend, Sarah, thoroughly believes that Halloween gives the world the unique opportunity to look as disgusting as possible for a few hours, and she does not waste those hours! The year before last, she was the most convincing corpse bride most people will ever see, but she really outdid herself last year. From layers of facepaint and liquid latex, she managed to sculpt herself into a decaying zombie so horrifying foul-looking that many people actually refused to stand next to her for a lot of the night!

Look at her. Gross. And she’ll take that as a compliment!

Now, I know not everyone will be as comfortable being as disgusting as my lovely friend Sarah up there. But that’s ok! You don’t have to look like your skin is peeling off to enjoy Halloween! There is middle ground between rotting flesh and that Sexy Maid costume that would be oh-so-easy to buy (but where’s the reward there?!). Consider these costume ideas, once again sourced from that bounty of handmade tutorials that is Instructables.com!

1. Human Disco ball:

A costume guaranteed to make you the centre of every party! You’ll light up the room! You’ll be a handy mirror for anyone needing to touch up the fake blood on their mouths! And the auther of the tutorial has even provided his very own pun – DiscoBelle of the Ball! Genius! It’s the costume that keeps on giving!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Mirrored-Disco-Ball-Halloween-Costume/

And it's the perfect costume idea for anyone concealing a pregnancy!

2. “Alien” costume:

Tecnically, known as the “Holy crap! RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!” costume, or alternatively the “I’ve been locked in my room making this since March” costume. Either way, there’s no way anyone else has even a chance at winning that costume competition this year. Take that, Sexy Leprechaun!

http://www.instructables.com/id/HR-Giger-Inspired-Alien-Costume/

If that comes Trick-or-Treating to your house, just throw the sweet bowl at it and barricade the windows.

3. Various foodstuffs costumes:

If you’re particularly fond of a particular snack or meal, why not pay homage to it this Halloween and really get your teeth into your costume making! You could be the toast of the town in your very own Sandwich costume! Or wouldn’t you look a-Maize-ing in this Corn on the Cob outfit! Or, you know, just go as a bagel.

There are surprisingly few bagel-related puns.

4. The Toilet Roll costume:

I’m sorry. Anyone with any fragile sensibilities or any sense of propriety look away now, because I’m gonna go there.

If you wear this costume, you’ll be the shit.

http://www.instructables.com/id/toilet-paper-costume/

Just (ahem) roll with it.

Creeps, costumes and creativity, what’s not to love? Even if none of these ideas float your boat, don’t pay exhorbitant amounts of money for Sexy jumpsuits, Sexy army fatiques, or Sexy baby outfits (seriously? What the hell?) made from such cheap, flammable material that you’ll have to avoid standing near an open flame all night. Remember there is always  another option, a timeless classic. A costume that will never go out of style, involves no effort, very little money, and gives you hundreds of options with just a change of hat, mask or make-up. The simple bin bag. Making Halloween special since the 1980s.

Ah, memories...

Love, Jenny xxx

Once upon a time…

September 21, 2010

This Sunday something bizarre happened. I woke up. Without a hangover. As this rarely happens, I decided, after getting over the shock of course, that I was going to make the best of it and do a little spring (September) cleaning and sprucing up. All day I cleared out the stores, re-arranged everything, put up some new frames, added a fresh coat of paint, and a few extra menus to make my newly improved home more light, welcoming and navigable for any visitors who may be stopping by. And all this without a pair of Marigold gloves in sight!  So now, ladies and gentlemen, after all my scrubbing and scouring, please do pop in and have a peek around the newly shiny and bright BettyAndPearl.com!

Not pictured: Mr. Sheen

As well as the new look website, I’ve also added some lovely new items! I’ve been playing with 100% dupion silk, pearls, beads, veiling, and lots of other bits and bobs to create a whole range with all the fantasy and glamour of fairytales, without the threat of a wayward wolf or pissed off stepmother with t0o much time on her hands and a chemical lab in her kitchen!

Love As A Bed of Roses

Painting the Roses Red headpiece

Marie Antoinette headpiece in Fuscia

Bye Bye Birdie headpiece

All of the pieces, as well as my burlesque feather headpieces, and all of Betty And Pearl’s handmade handbags are available on the website, and I’m more than happy to ship worldwide. So what do you say? Come on in, have a browse, try something lovely on (with your eyes!), and I’ll pop the kettle on! I’ll even let you write on my wall!

Love, Jenny xxx