Vaudeville: n. derived from the French expression voix de ville, or 'voice of the city'.
1880s - 1930s

Recently, Vague Studios acquired one of the most amazing articles of clothing we've ever had, and indeed one of the most incredible things we've yet come across in our treasure hunts:
an all-silk Vaudeville Devil Dress, ca. 1880s!

All aboard the Sizzle Express, as I share with you some photos one might say are...
 hot as hell.

The acquisition of our ghoulish gown has got me thinking about this early theatrical medium with a new appreciation, and a new perspective.
  When I slipped on the dress I really felt transported back in time -- about 100 years before my birth, to be exact-- to time when, under the cover of vaulted theater ceilings, prim and proper Victorian gents and ladies could shed the staunch codes of society, loosen the corset strings and let Baudy rule...

I'm also thinking about how pivotal this age of theater was to the entertainment industry, how influential Vaudeville and Burlesque were socially, and how it both liberated women and black performers, while sometimes also enforcing stereotypes.  

Overall, the influence of Vaudeville was and continues to be monumental, with Vauvillians like
Tony Pastor, Aida Walker, Charlie Chaplin, Buster KeatonHarry Houdini, even Helen Keller 
(yes, that Helen Keller!) who toured the circuit, brought entertainment to the masses, and paved the way for future generations of performers.

A tip o' me ol' hat to the lot of 'em!
and speaking of....
Here's the educational portion ...

{ above:  Aida Overton Walker, who refused to play stereotypical "mammy" roles.    }

{  above:  Juno Salmo dressed as a demon, 1909.  (dang!)  }

{ above:  'The Hornet' and 'The Witch', fancy dress circa 1887; via. }


{  above:  The fabulous Dolly Sisters, Roszika and Janszieka Deutch; billed as "Rosie & Jenny" on the circuit.  gorgeous!  }

{  above: theater backdrop, photographs and posters from the golden days of Vaudeville. }

{ below:  two videos of footage of actual Vaudeville performers.  The first features Eva Tanguay, who dubbed herself "the girl who made Vaudeville famous", and was hailed by Aleister Crowley as being "the perfect American artist. She is… starry chaste in her colossal corruption. "  }


{ The second video shows various Vaudeville acts from 1898 to 1910, which post-dates our Devil Dress by a little bit. }

{ more on early American theater herehere, and here.  }


*disclaimer:  Yes.  I know my shoes are from the 1950s.  Can you blame me?