Burlesque may conjure up images of the Pussycat Dolls prancing around in hooker wear, but Victoria Grimshaw wants to change our perceptions of the theatrical performance. Grimshaw - also known by her stage name, Miss La Vida - has been performing burlesque for only a year after setting up local company MissChief Events.
She and three other burlesque dancers will be performing as part of the two-hour Misdemeanours show, beginning at the Classic on February 26.
Grimshaw returned to New Zealand last year after performing in London, where she reached the finals of two major burlesque competitions. Now she produces events and club nights as well as teaching burlesque for hen parties and girls' nights out.
And while she may remove her clothes as part of her act, Grimshaw's passion for the performance has had a big influence over what she wears every day.
"Ever since I started doing burlesque I have dressed more elegantly."
And why does she think there's so much renewed interest in the art form?
"It's come as a backlash against the pole-dancing Pussycat Doll era. Women want to explore and express their femininity. They want to be sexy but not in a degrading and overt manner. Less is more, and that is what burlesque is all about - less being subtlety, not less clothing!"
See Misdeameanours for more information and to buy tickets.
Whose wardrobe would you most like to raid?
After nearly 30 years of changing her look so many times, Madonna must have the most amazing collection of clothing and costumes.
Who are your favourite designers, and why?
I admire designers who are different or quirky. I really like the collections produced by World. I also love designers who produce classic feminine chic, such as Yves St Lauren and Dior.
When I'm on stage, I like to wear... ?
Well that's a funny question, since when I'm on stage I usually take most of my clothes off!
What was the last item of clothing you bought?
I'm not sure you can count it as an item of clothing as such, but the last thing I bought to wear were some custom-made nipple tassels. I requested that they be big red hearts with long tassels that could twirl round and round. I love them. They're so big that they somehow make my modest chest look plumper.
What's the one thing everyone should have in their wardrobe?
Every woman should have a custom-made corset. I cannot describe how sexy you feel when laced up in a boned corset. It's empowering.
What endures throughout the seasons?
A decent fitted black suit jacket. Wear it for work. Use it to dress up a pair of casual trousers or jeans. They're multi-functional. I adore clothing that can fit a variety of purposes.
Your favourite shop?
Miss Illicit on K Rd. They do affordable faux vintage clothing that has a definitive style to it.
Your favourite shop elsewhere?
Alannah Hill. She does the most amazing clothing reminiscent of the 20s and 40s but with a modern twist. I love what she does.
What can't you live without?
My Miss Sixty flat shoes. They're cute, comfy, practical and can be worn with 90 per cent of what's in my wardrobe. I bought them in Madeira last year. They cost a bomb but they were worth it.
Your fashion obsession?
Burlesque related items - stockings, underwear, corsets, dresses, heels, gloves, fascinators.
What is the biggest fashion/beauty/hair mistake you have ever made?
Leather trousers, which were more plastic than leather, with a low-cut leopard print top. I bought them in San Francisco. I think that was back in 1995 - there was a lot of leopard print around in that year. I also bought a Victoria's Secret leopard print velvet set that I wore underneath. I can't stand the sight of leopard print now, it makes me blush.
If money were no option?
I would have every costume I have ever conceived of made so I could do all the burlesque acts I've envisaged doing.
Is there anything you think the fashion police should ban?
White socks, they should only be worn by tennis players. Oh, and white underwear for boys. Because let's face it, boys aren't exactly the cleanest creatures on the planet. Also, they usually wash all their clothes together so what should be white undies either have a pink or grey tinge.
You feel best wearing?
Stockings and suspenders. They put a spring in my step.
Most underrated item in fashion?
A well-fitting bra. I once heard a scary statistic that 80 per cent of women are wearing the wrong bra size. Wearing the correct bra size will improve how you hold and present yourself.
Most stylish city?
Madrid. The Spanish dress so elegantly. Their clothes don't cost a fortune and last more than 10 washes.
Best city for fashion shopping in the world?
London. It's got everything for everybody.
When I was at high school I wore?
Clothes that were far too revealing, which my mother should never have let me leave the house in.
Most cherished item?
My possum/merino wool stole with possum fur trim. It looks heavenly and keeps me nice and toasty on cold days. I think possum/merino material is a testament to Kiwi ingenuity - use the fur of a pest for practical purposes. I would be attacked by animal rights activists if I wore it in Britain!
Personal style quirk?
I always wear matching underwear sets. I'd feel so uncomfortable if I was wearing mismatched knickers and bra.
Never caught wearing?
Dresses over cotton leggings. Why do the youth of today do that? They should reveal the beautiful legs they have before they're riddled with thread veins.
Best trend of this season? And why?
Cardigans! Thank God the humble cardigan is back and fashionable and not something associated with old, smelly people. A cardigan is your best defence against the ever-changing Auckland climate.
What won't you be wearing this season?
Those Kanye West-style plastic sunnies with plastic lines as lenses. I've never actually looked through a pair but I'm assuming they severely inhibit your vision.