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Here Digger talks to Gemma at Burlesque, fun and fantasy clothing specialists Simon Says Dress up.






Now in their fourth year of business as an Online store, Simon Says Dress Up are committed to providing the most exquisite costumes on the market.

Burlesque Wardrobe, Lingerie Sets, Skirts, Gloves, Hats & Fascinators, Pasties, Costume Wardrobe, Lingerie Wardrobe, Dance & Club wear Wardrobe, Dresses, Shoes And Boots, Hosiery, Stockings & Hold Ups, Fashion Tights, Leggings, Socks, Leg Warmers, Petticoats & Tutus, Character Wigs, Bags & Purses, Gloves, Costume Accessories, Men's Costume Accessories, Women's Costume Accessories, Costume Hats & Hair Additions, Costume Wigs, Halloween Fancy Dress





Digger: Can you tell us a little bit about the background to Simon Says Dress Up please Gemma?

Gemma: Simon Says Dress Up opened at the end of 2007. The initial business focus was high end fancy dress costumes. I had run a successful cocktail bar in a busy party town for several years and noticed a gap in the market for real quality costumes. We regularly had theme nights at the bar and I always had the waitresses and bar staff dressed in accordance to the set theme. At this point I realised how difficult it was to find good quality, well fitting, stylish costumes. Many of our bar customers were finding the same problem so after researching it for a year or so I decided to start Simon Says. Over the past couple of years the focus has shifted a little towards the burlesque side and celebrity style wigs. The costumes are still central to the operation, however, particularly around Halloween and Christmas.

Digger: Why is Vintage and Retro in all its forms - thirties, forties and fifties, Mod, Punk, Pin-up, Rockabilly, femme fatale & Hollywood glamour and so on increasingly so popular these days?

Gemma: I think the reason for the retro and vintage increase in popularity can be explained in two words - escapism & influence. More and more people are looking for an escape from the boring, daily routine of life, the depressing news stories relating to the economy, double dip recessions and the general increase in the exposure of the failing of mankind. The film/TV/literature/technology industries respond with 3D films, shows with bigger and bigger budgets that work to invest viewers emotionally, magical book trilogies and sagas and if you have enough money you can rent out Cinderella's castle, swim with Caribbean dolphins or even fly to the moon. This lust for escapism has broadened to fashion and style, contributed to by celebrated stars such as Katy Perry, Rihanna and Lady Gaga who have made it fashionable and, more importantly, much more 'acceptable' to dress in a very individual way (whether that be punk, retro or pin up)

Digger: So who are your customers, where are they coming from and what sort of feedback and comments are you getting from clients?

Gemma: Our customers are mostly UK based, although we do have several customers based in Europe, (particularly Italy) USA and Australia. Some of our clients are burlesque dancers who buy our classic pieces (such as corsets and bustle skirts) and then customise/embellish these items to end up with their own unique garment, adapted to their current routine. We find that burlesque performers really love to have a hand in creating their own outfits as it is all part of their performance and presentation. A big chunk of our customers are burlesque enthusiasts who don't perform but are either dressing up for parties/hen nights or are attending a burlesque event as a spectator and then we have our costume customers who are usually buying for a one off event/festival/party. A few parcels have gone out addressed to Buckingham Palace, Chelsea Football Club and the TV show 'Celebrity Juice'

Digger: Please tell us more about the various fancy dress/dressing up/costume options you offer.

Gemma: We are really careful in selecting our fancy dress items and tend to specialise in the Leg Avenue brand. There are so many websites out there selling cheap, ill-fitting costumes - we really did not want to end up in the mix with these. Our focus has always been quality and Leg Avenue are really unsurpassed when it comes to both quality and fashion. This brand is regularly photographed on Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton, Nicki Minaj and many other celebrities both here and in the US. Pricing is a little higher than the normal fancy dress costume but I truly believe that when it comes to Leg Avenue you get what you pay for. Their California based designers are always one step ahead of other manufacturers, I don't know how they do it and with the feedback we have received for several years now we are confident that we will continue in this manner and excited to see the new collections each year. When it comes to Halloween it's all about predicting the big trend of the year - Zombies, Vampires, Ghosts etc? Every two years or so it changes so it's all about researching the big films, TV shows and books of the year - this year our prediction is Monsters!

Digger: Burlesque, Pin-up and Vintage & Retro lingerie have seen a particular growth in the past few years. Why do you think that is?

Gemma: I think the growth in pin up and retro lingerie goes hand in hand with the popularity of the whole retro fashion. Vintage lovers know that to achieve a really authentic look and that stunning hourglass figure the original lingerie is essential to pull you in and push you out in all the right places. Plus the fabrics used and the designs are generally so much nicer than modern lingerie.





Digger: Do you notice many differences between the way women go about dressing-up and the men do in terms of behaviour and wanting to make an impression?

Gemma: There is a huge difference between the attitude of the women and men dressing up. On the whole we find that our female customers choose their costume or burlesque outfit in much the same way as they would any other Saturday night ensemble. The ladies want the matching stockings, hats, bags, shoes etc - everything has to be perfect. They take a long time choosing the right outfit to ensure it flatters their individual shape, style and personality as well as any set theme. This is their chance to be totally different (in every way) for the night so it's essential they feel and look great. The men, on the whole, often want to go for the most outlandish costume. I think they are aiming to really stand out and receive the biggest laugh! When it comes to Halloween they are not afraid to go for the whole prosthetic make up look, wig and contact lenses - it's great!

Digger: You have an extensive range of styles, genres and items available. What items tend to be the most sought after and the biggest sellers?

Gemma: When it comes to burlesque, the biggest sellers are the classic corsets and bustle skirts. In regards our other items our wigs have been the most popular since their launch at the end of 2011. We really focus on styles that are not available from other retailers or manufacturers and design them ourselves based on the latest trends, newest characters and popular celebrities.





Digger: What do you most enjoy about running the Simon Says Dress Up business?

Gemma: I particularly enjoy the creative side of the business. Making promotional and entertaining videos, choreographing fashion shows, designing exhibitions stands and shaping our wig designs. I have an extensive professional dance background and a creative writer at heart, so mixed with a love of fashion the fancy dress and burlesque industries are really perfect to engage my passions. The diversity of the people I get to meet, connect with and learn from are definite perks, while the satisfaction of exceeding customer expectations and receiving great feedback is a feeling I really enjoy.

Digger: What are your personal Retro and Vintage passions Gemma?

Gemma: My favourite genre is probably the 40's/50's fashions. I think the women of these decades look so feminine and glamorous and the pencil dresses and skirts create the most flattering of figures in my opinion. The rolled hair and Hollywood make up is verging on art and will never be out of style. I am a huge Frank Sinatra fan and love learning about the Kennedy era and I adore Fred Astaire and particularly enjoyed his performances with Cyd Charisse whose elegance, style and amazingly beautiful interpretation of dance is unmatched in my view.

Digger: Where do you see the future for Simon Says Dress Up?

Gemma: I hope to expand the product lines, particularly in the burlesque and wig ranges, in the future and increase our brand presence in the States and Europe. I would also like to continue with bigger and bolder shows and exhibitions in exciting new venues. It's a long old hill climb for an online business but with our love and belief in our products and brands I am confident we will continue to grow.




Now in our fourth year of business as an Online store, we are committed to providing the most exquisite costumes on the market.

Burlesque Wardrobe, Lingerie Sets, Skirts, Gloves, Hats & Fascinators, Pasties, Costume Wardrobe, Lingerie Wardrobe, Dance & Club wear Wardrobe, Dresses, Shoes And Boots, Hosiery, Stockings & Hold Ups, Fashion Tights, Leggings, Socks, Leg Warmers, Petticoats & Tutus, Character Wigs, Bags & Purses, Gloves, Costume Accessories, Men's Costume Accessories, Women's Costume Accessories, Costume Hats & Hair Additions, Costume Wigs, Halloween Fancy Dress




For The Gentlemen
-Deluxe quality costumes created for the fashion conscious, wishing to stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impression at that special occasion.

For The Ladies
-Delightfully feminine and utterly glamorous creations inspiring confidence and sensuality for starlets who are unwilling to settle for second best
-A show-stopping collection of fun and flirtatious heels
-Super sexy, super sultry, high end lingerie and hosiery that reek of sex appeal

2011 sees the launch of the new Burlesque Collection. Re-create the pin up perfection of Dita Von Teese, Immodesty Blaize and Catherine D'Lish in our most exciting unveiling yet, featuring dazzling corsets, bustle skirts, matching sets and fascinators.











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