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Really Taking Off – The Rise of Burlesque in Advertising

January 22, 2010

Having been a lover of all things vintage and glamorous since I was very young, it’s no real surprise that I’ve been sucked in to the wonderful world of burlesque in the way I have.

And I’m clearly not alone.

From burly greetings cards on the high street to performers on Saturday night primetime TV, the burlesque vibe seems to be becoming more and more mainstream. It’s fair to say that ‘taking it off’ has been ‘on trend’ for quite some time. We’ve seen countless brands use the retro-glamour aesthetic to create and promote their products and I myself have had images used to promote vintage clothes, retro hairstyling, corsets and of course burlesque events themselves.

Vintage effect flyers by Craig Spivey with photography by Raquel Rouge

Flyers and postcards for Lily de la Mer Vintage, Jeni Aldridge and Adixxtion Designs – all featuring images by Raquel Rouge

Posters for Darkteaser's Garter Lounge designed by Craig Spivey with photography by Raquel Rouge

My photos on posters for Darkteaser's Garter Lounge (though I can't claim credit for all the playing card shots)

There’s a pretty obvious link between this nostalgia-tinged sexiness and ranges of lingerie, fashion, make up, hair products and even feather and sequin festooned notebooks, but in the last few months I’ve noticed how seemingly non-related products are getting in on the action.

Take this campaign for Virgin cruises that launched over Christmas. Beautifully done and a novel way of doing a ‘money off’ flash.

Then there’s this nice little ad for the Renault Twingo. ‘I’m a modern lady, my daughter’s a stripper, that’s cool.’

Even the ad agencies that dream this stuff up are getting in on the act to promote themselves. Trevor Beattie of Wonderbra ad fame has a long-standing association with burlesque, having produced shows in the west end and this year, instead of a Christmas card, the ad agency Beta staged a performance in the windows of their Carnaby Street office.


Fan dancer appearing in a Carnaby Street window courtesy of creative agency Beta

This tendency to tease has been spotted by too. Among their ‘10 crucial consumer trends for 2010’ they cite the trend of ‘Maturialism’ (mature materialism) pointing to marketing becoming ‘rawer, more opinionated, more risqué, and more in your face than ever before’.

According to – one of the '10 crucial consumer trends for 2010'

But so what, using scantily clad ladies to sell products is nothing new is it? Though I guess if this burlesque stuff is seen as ‘safe raunchiness that girls like,’ it’s clearly a bit of a win-win for advertisers. Us ladies appreciate the style and the gentlemen appreciate the things that gentlemen appreciate.

Whatever the underlying motivations are it’s good for business. Mine and theirs. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to drive to Dover in my new Twingo.

I have a cruise to catch.

RS x

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anita Davies permalink
    January 22, 2010 7:10 pm

    Love it darling! Every time I see the Virgin ad I think of you. It is heartening to see some quality glamour rather than the usual tacky tits and ass served up by Nuts mag and the like. The female form deserves the respect of really good photography with a bit of burlesque naughtiness!

  2. January 22, 2010 8:05 pm


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