My favorite part of being a showgirl is the feathers. The world of burlesque is covered in glitter, rhinestones and feathers of every type—ostrich, turkey, rooster, vulture, etc.
Jo Boobs once told me that her favorite ostrich boa completely molted after five years of use. She used it in a show one night, woke up the next morning to put it away and it completely fell apart. I was horrified! I hope that never happens to me!
During my time at Jubilee! I witnessed the various techniques the dressers used to maintain our gorgeous costumes. It was always a crazy day onstage when the red fans costumes were steamed, those red feather strips were extra fluffy and appeared brand new.
I have a close friendship with the former Head of Feathers at Jubilee and have asked him all sorts of questions on the best ways to store and care for the feathers, which I will share with you now!
- Steam the feathers after they have been packed away for awhile. This will open up the feathers
- Use a Hair Dryer to open up ostrich plumes to appear fuller
- Store your completed feather pieces (hats, boas, backpacks, etc.) hanging in a dry, dark place. (Even fluorescent lighting will fade or yellow feathers)
- Cover them in a loose cotton sheet, if you can, to prevent them collecting dust (they are natural dust collectors!)
- Protect them while traveling by placing them in cotton pillowcases or wrapping loosely in sheets
Sometimes, the feathers have run their course and need to be discarded. No amount of steam or hot air will be able to revive them.
That was the case for several costumes in Jubilee. Over the course of the show’s run, my friend had rebuilt every single costume from scratch at least twice! He told me he tried to save the feathers that could be saved, but the rest had to be trashed. So sad.
Have you been able to save your feathers or repurpose them to save them from the landfill? Comment below with your experiences!