Roommate Construction/Deconstruction (she makes things, I break ’em down)

by heytherewildflower

Deconstruction of a Glamour Girl

Over the past decade a variety of articles featuring local costume, clothing, and event wear designer, Seattle personality, Jamie Von Stratton, have been penned and bandied about. It is certain, however, that none has been written from the perspective of one who sees this burlesque glamour girl in a red terry-cloth bathrobe on a daily basis. Or, if the terry-cloth bathrobe has been temporarily optioned out of rotation, perhaps the author will catch Ms. Von Stratton traipsing about in a velvet smoking jacket put together before the author has even embraced the initiative to peep from her sleep blurred eyes.

As many in the know of Seattle’s fashion community are likely aware, Von Stratton creations range from wearable, vintage inspired caplets, “drag-style” hula girl costumes, to burlesque getups, to custom fifties wedding gowns. I am privy to Jamie’s critical and stylistic commentary of each piece. But perhaps, rather than commentary, you’d call it muttering.

Our living room is packed with dazzling figures clad in Seattle’s jazziest finery. The Von Stratton residence is a constant party. If your kind of party is one whose guests are headless and silent, I suggest you pop by. You’ll find Jamie buzzing around the place, whipping out confections, juggling her busy schedule, an active hostess to a gaggle of interns. She may be wearing a hair hat and complimentary show girl inspired get up or she may be in spandex work out gear.

Many designers of Jamie’s ilk, (and many younger inferior ilks) seek to make it big in the big old world, Big Ol’ Big Apple, NYC. These relatively young ‘uns often try to skip past the long years of commitment to meticulous craftwork employed by old-school working designers such as MS. Jamie Von Stratton.

If you ask Jamie, and many do, there is a fundamental difference between herself and NYC and LA’s hordes of aspiring “designers”. Jamie is a working girl. She is a creative personality and a business woman. Her work and guidance helped catalyze the success of her Seattle-famous Burlesque troupe, The Atomic Bombshells, in addition to establishing her business as a sole form of income.

If her garments offer an prolific diversity, her range of clients is even more bewildering. Counted among them are NYC socialites, Burlesque stars, Microsoft Corporation, a Ms. Gay Seattle, the impressive Ms. Glamazonia, a drag queen who, in a Cher impersonator getup, is nigh 7ft tall, bridezillas galore, the Capitol Hill boutique “The Pretty Parlor” for which she designs a small collection of wearable pieces, and, finally, a loyal, and ever expanding Etsy.com following. There are more, but I’ve only lived with Jamie-Superstar for 3 months and this just a sampling of who I’ve seen around.

All this, Jamie does on her own. The interns help out some, but mostly come around to bask in the Jamie-ness of our treasure trove apartment and share a bottle of wine and some gossip. The business savvy, the connections, the fire, the positive attitude, the sense of fun, these traits belong to a woman who’s example I pray to follow. This girl does not have the luxury of working for free publicity, nor does she aim to get hooks into the world of the avante garde. It may come as a shock to fashion industry players, but She has cake and she eats it. This girl doesn’t care about “fashion”. She is unperturbed by the industry’s breakneck rush though she has insider knowledge, chops in fashion history and construction technique that do not underwhelm. To witness Jamie at work is a lesson in the ridiculousness of snobbery, a course in the adage of late Voguette Editor in Chiefdom, Diana Vreeland, “Too much good taste can be boring!”

Jamie doesn’t have a philosophy of design to speak of that she’ll pop off on command. She does not pontificate on the cultural relevance of Celine, Comme Des Garcons, Meadham Kirchhoff, or the failings of Kaiser Karl Lagerfeld. She aims to satisfy herself, her clients, and most importantly, to balance fun with a sense of integrity. Her example provides evidence for the lessons I’ve learned in my pursuit of Po’-Writer-Dom. Too much design and no commitment to construction or business savvy makes creativity a sick boi. A sick boy is a dull boy, and Jamie is neither sick, nor dull, nor boyish. Contrary to the current zeitgeist of the hardcore fashion industry, She avoids androgyny but pushes drag and fifties kitsch to the max. Is this a contradiction or the delicious secret to her charm and success?

Jamie’s career may seem glamorous because, honestly, it is quite glamorous. I live with it. Jamie possesses the ability to captivate and charm whether she is totally decked out in a terri-cloth robe or keeping it low key in Playboy Bunny flight attendant onesie and complimentary 6 inch lucite heels.

Here I sit, in my writer’s abode (troll cave), pores oozing coffee and anxiety, wearing a kimono bathrobe and volcom ski socks. Fabulosity takes many guises. Sometimes its costume is a perfect confessional sonnet sequence that illuminates a suppressed guilt for one time childhood frog murder, but sometimes its writing shitty copy by night and working from home transcribing phone calls to pay the bills, and slapping a smile on your crusty face while doing it.

(christmas tree outfitted mannequin, vintage pink wedding dress dyed pink, drag girl hula costume in an early stage of construction, home-studded ballet slippers, yellow marie antoinette baby doll dress,  JVF designs SKIRT given to me by Jamie, resident lobster man costume from Macy’s Day Parade.)

To read a professional article about Jamie published in the City Arts Magazine… and to check out her Etsy site…etc, CLICK HERE 

Jamie’s stage names are “Honey Deluxe” and “Lucky Penny”. She does most of the costuming for her burlesque troupe, The Atomic Bombshells, as well as the costuming for other burlesque events and troupes.