Vinilla Icing...

by - Saturday, February 02, 2013

Pretty hand-turned roses on a bed of light whipped ballerina tulle... Folds upon folds of sugar-coated crisp fans skirted to envelope a pop star... Licorice ears atop an iconic hero... These are just bits of the costume magic Vinilla Vin Burnham has been creating for years on the big screen and stage. It is her wizardry of theatrical charm which makes her one of the most influential costume designers of our time. 
Born in Chelwood Gate as Vivian, later renamed Vinilla by her friend Justin de Villeneuve, her taste for the stage was compelling. Her grandfather, an opera singer, appeared in silent movies of the 1920s, and both parents, Edward and Lucille Burnham, were theatre actors on the West End stage. At the age of six, Vinilla was taken to see Swan Lake at Covent Garden. “The curtain went up on a whole other world and it was one I wanted to inhabit,” she says. “I was given these ballet books for Christmas with images of ballet dancers that had such atmosphere, mystery and glamor. I wanted to be one of them.” Such essence of youthful desire mixed with resourcefulness warmed up a remarkable career.
It isn't any wonder why Lady Gaga asked Vinilla to fashion and engineer the “living dress” for her 2010 Monster Ball World Tour. The unforgettable creation boasted wings, giant headdress and a 15 foot train abounding with layered fans to embody Gaga's drama and girly glam. 
"In this image of Gaga backstage, she is tripping along with the lightness of a fairy... It is a pleasure to see this. It is the result of a perfect balance between design and construction."
Fans of fabric skirt and train the costume for Lady Gaga
Vinilla has spent the last few decades keeping very, very busy, putting her costuming genius to work with many other greats in the industry - outfitting the big screen with Tim Burton on Batman and Batman Returns, working with Jim Henson on the fantasy films Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal and The Neverending Story III,  and with Jean Paul Gaultier on the 1997 Luc Besson film, The Fifth Element. With even more devoted followers from the ballet and opera stages, it is her memorable creation of Aslan, the lion from The Chronicles of Narnia for BBC, that won yet a younger audience.
Batman Returns... the Bat, the Cat and the Penguin
Aslan, the Lion from Narnia
“As a little girl, I believed in fairies... My sister and I would leave sixpences under the pear tree at the bottom of the garden for them and we made frocks and tiny fairy furniture out of cardboard.” With this charming and imaginary vision, Vinilla has created The Little Costume Shop, an exclusive collection of exquisite quarter-scale opera and ballet costumes. Like cupcake icing, every sequin, bead, ribbon and fold of fabric is perfect on her miniatures which can be admired in exhibition cases at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden or purchased to keep as a memento of a special performance. 
As a natural progression, she is delicately nibbling the wedding dress market by offering unique keepsakes. Vinilla and her business partner, Debbie Phipps, are waving their magic wand to create replica wedding dress miniatures as the ultimate memento of a bride's big day. Big things really do come in small packages!
The recipe for Vinilla's Icing? "Always strive to create depth, atmosphere and magic."

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