Meet the two genius-types behind the reVamp and
Lucy B. vintage burlesque fashion show.
brainchild of Annamarie Firley, makes deluxe vintage
apparel. At Lucy B., the studio next door, Michelle
Landry creates vintage-inspired lingerie. Factor in
a swanky nightclub producer known as Maxwell DeMille
and two weeks later you have a a curvy carousel of vintage
eye candy, equal measures burlesque resurrection and
swingtime fashion machine.
You see, Club Maxwell's at the Argyle is a 1930s-style
supper club where a dance orchestra plays period music,
people mingle in evening wear and Maxwell introduces
the entertainment anything from magicians and
tap dancers to a bubble dance by vintage pin up star
Dita von Teese.
got invited to show her stuff at Maxwell's, but then
the main designer had to back out, leaving Annamarie
holding the bag. Show biz on short notice is a dicey
game. The pressure was on. Would she bomb as the headliner?
Get blackballed when no one showed up??
There are moments in life that cry out, Eureka! With
Edison it was "Watson! Get your ass in here, man,
I have it!" One Friday night only two weeks before
the event, Annamarie's muse suddenly belted it out:
"I KNOW. THE GIRLS SHOULD TAKE THEIR CLOTHES OFF!"
Then came the Greek chorus: "YES! GIRL MODELS WHO
STRIP. NO ONE'S DONE THAT BEFORE!"
Michelle Landry moved in next door a few weeks earlier.
Her brilliant Lucy B. line of vintage-inspired
lingerie was just what the doctor ordered for Annamarie's
swing-stripping fantasia. Michelle? She was in.
Now it was Maxwell's turn. "I just show up and
I'm like, I've changed directions. It's going to be
a burlesque fashion show now!" First there was
the classic producer's double-take. But Maxwell said
he could swing it. And so was solved the riddle of what
makes makes the phones ring in publicity-happy L.A.
Calls followed from Brazil, Russia, even East Coast
tuxedo tabloid Vanity Fair.
"The advance press response has been phenomenal,"
says Annamarie. "More than I got for my bathing
suit show, which was ZERO."
it some essential difference between bathing suits and
underwear that sparks the reaction? "No, I think
it's more the idea of girls taking off their clothes,"
says Annamarie. "It's also the art of striptease
instead of 'let's get naked as soon as possible and
see how much money gets thrown on the catwalk.' It's
something fun and comfortable for women to attend."
then, fine washables superstar Michelle Landry joins
the press conference. Michelle, avid swing dancer, hails
from San Diego. She's been designing for ten years,
the last three right here in pueblo Los Angeles. So
I lead off with the sensible question: how does one
get into women's underwear?
"My whole approach to vintage lingerie came from
the underground swing dancing scene," she says.
"I always noticed there wasn't really anything
fabulous to wear underneath your fabulous swing dress,
so I had to make it. And it evolved from there into
Lucy B. last worked the runway in February for the
homeless charity called UnderShare, and for anyone still
with us and not fast-clicking through the photo gallery,
here's where things get even more interesting.
You see, when you decide you're going to have a night
out with your best date at Maxwell's, and you're watching
high-toned showgirls putting Annamarie and
Michelle's designs in motion with a swanky band playing
and everyone all manicured in their penguin suits, the
last thing and I do mean THE LAST THING
on your mind is going to be: "Do the homeless people
outside have clean underwear on?"
debriefs us. "UnderShare was founded by Helen Huang
and it raises money to provide underwear for the homeless.
It's a non-profit group with a fashion
show fundraiser called 'Underdressed.' Their slogan
is 'With Liberty, Justice & Underwear for All.'
Which is really cool because when you think about it,
you may give old clothes to the mission, but who donates
underwear? There's a real lack of it. I don't even think
the charities accept it."
here was a story with some dimension. From '40s
glamour girls prancing around in their nighties to lingerie
activists preventing skidmarks on Skid Row, the lesson
rings loud and clear: with clean underwear everybody
Back to Michelle: "I consider my stuff contemporary.
It goes to a lot of contemporary high end boutiques
across the U.S. The people who like it are are the ones
who love vintage and also the people who are really
fashion forward, contemporary women. So it has a strong
Annamarie: "It's for people who are Fashion Backward
AND Fashion Forward."
Michelle: "Yeah. That's cool!"
have to leave the geniuses at work as Annamarie
says, "We're busy working on my garments that can
be taken off well and Michelle's undergarments that
are going to look good underneath."
The verdict? Hollywood, you're a tough room. But Annamarie,
Michelle, Maxwell, and their Burlesque Bombshells are
ready for their close up.