Friday, January 10, 2014

About the Goddess headpiece i made for LouLou D'vil and about why my headpieces are "so expensive"

So, many people have been asking about the details of the headpiece i made for LouLou D'vil. And while i'm at it i might as well say something about the prices of my headdresses, since not a week goes by that i don't have to explain to someone why they are "so expencive". But first, about LouLou's headpiece! :)

This is the inspiration photo that Loulou gave me (headdress form the movie Apocalypto, costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo) . As You can see we used some of the shapes, like the side rolls and the bun and used some of the same colours (colours that are seen in ancient arwork too). I changed the top, the piece on the forehead and added colour, sparkle and made it darker and more "burlesque" adding tassels, sequins and big glass diamonds. The shape of the base is different too and it's smaller in size. The structure is also probably very different because of the demands for the headpiece i made.

Some inspiring images...

The aztec goddess Xochiquetzal. She incarnated youth, love and beauty and was amorously pursued by several Aztec gods. Emblemised by flowers and colourful feathers, Xochiquetzal was patroness of lovers and prostitutes. Unlike other fertility goddesses, she encouraged love-making as a means of pleasure, not reproduction.

Mayan God Kukulcan, also known as the Serpent God, is the Mayans Supreme God. The Aztec called him Quetzalcoatl.

The frame is metal wire, padded and covered. I'm not telling you all my secrets, but i can share some of the details :)

Under the metal frame there is also buckram, there's lot of stuff on it so it needs the support.
The base in the front is covered with black fake hair, since lots of the pics of ancient south american gods and goddesses had "fringes".

I made the tassels on the sides from fake hair too, and added strings of beads. The base of the tassel is made of thin metal that shaped to fit the tassels and to cover the upper ends. I fastened the tassels to the metal band that attached to the base of the headdress.
The metal band is covered with rhinestones and bigger glass diamonds.

The side rolls and the bun-dish thing on top are also fake hair (yes, it was pain in the a** to make :)
All hand sewn from individual bunches of hair. There are also swarovski beads sewn at the adges.

The golden plate is made of resin. I carved the model out of wood and made a silicone mold of it and then made a resin cast, painted it with gold paint and covered with swarovski crystals. The plate is attached to bucram base that it covered with a web of vintage gold/white ribbon, sequins, swarovski and trimmed with two kinds of feathers.

There are also longer orange/black feathers on top and yellow feathers on the side (detachable) and green very long  detachable pheasant feathers, that are seen in the picture below.
The headdress is collapsible because it has to fit in a suitcase (it actually goes in four pieces+ the green feathers). It also had to be sturdy and stay on LouLou's head while she is dancing (everyone who has seen her perform knows that she is WILD on stage), yet it can not be too heavy or uncomfortable. It also have to be really easy to remove (in about 30sec.) And ofcourse it has to look good and be fierce...

This baby is all that. And what's most important, LouLou was happy with it. There is nothing better than a happy customer!

So, that is why my headresses are "so expensive". The burlesque pieces start around 300, but something as big and complicated as this is not hundreds, it's thousands..
I practically made everything on this headdress, this is really made from scratch. Just the materials were several hundreds of euros and the amount of hours i spent making this is quite something.

I make all my headpieces with love, they are unique and made to last and i use the best materials at hand and order lots of stuff from all around the world to get the best stuff.

I have to say that i truly love my job and my customers who make me do these crazy projects! The mutual respect, the joy of working with such talented and nice people. I must be the luckiest girl in the world, though it took me years to be where i am now and lots of work.

LouLou D'vil at Belle Epoque, Dark circus, London. NYE. High Priestess of the Feather Snake act.

Headpiece by Fiona Timantti Millinery
Corset base by Salonkiompelimo HiroNIA
Costume by Anni Laanti and LouLou 'vil

Read more about the "feathered serpent", Quetzalcoatl here.


  1. How can anyone even imagine something that intricate and beautiful to be _cheap_? I mean, the sheer workload in making something like that makes it almost priceless in my opinion, and so questioning the price tag would never even cross my mind. Sadly I am not in the budget range for such items, but still. Jeez how some people can't appreciate something as beautiful as that!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Frankie, it means alot to me :)

      I think some people just don't have any idea how much work goes in to this kind of things. Maybe because they have no experience of costumes or crafts.
      It's totally ok to ask about the price and many of my customers are on a tight budget and that's ok too. I also accept part payment from burlesque dancers :)
      Sometimes i also help perfomers better their own inexpencive headpieces they've ordered somewhere online if they are not happy about how they look or about the fit or the quality of the materils (this is often the case when ordering factory made products).

      I love my job, burlesque, my customers and making beautiful headpieces :)

  2. this is a true masterpiece ! if you ask me, it should be in a museum for exceptional artwork ! thank you so much for showing all the close Details and the process of making it. it was about time ..... !!!

  3. Oh thanks for showing more details and the inspiration/back story for the head piece! I just tought it was a huge crazy ass beautiful headpiece, but it also has a huge symbolism <3 just love it! I hope I'll see it live some day :> And I hope some day I'm not living on student budget so I can by a hat made by you! So you better keep on the good work! :D

  4. It is amazing, mine is not as complicated as this one, but I was doing it by myselve - with no experience :-)

    1. Maybe someday i can make you one? I would love to :)
      I was trying to find a pic of yours but couldn't find any :/

  5. Holy shit that is amazing!! The detail..the over all look..everything! HOW are you not more well known?! You deserve to be working on top of the world!!!<3

    1. Thank you *blushing* I don't know about the top of the world but i would love to go to australia to work with milliner Rosie Boylan, on some of the films she is making the hats for :)

  6. This is the first time I've come across your work, but as a fellow costumier/artist what you're saying is so true. People don't understand that quality workmanship requires quality materials which generally cost more and then you have to pay yourself for your time after that. Bespoke, one of a kind headdresses are always going to look better than something from a factory churning them out in SE Asia for $150, but the public seems to have a disconnect when it comes to the price. Sure they like yours better, they KNOW it's done with more finesse, and yet when it comes to paying for the things that make it a much nicer piece of work, they want to know why it's so much more expensive. So frustrating.

    1. It is frustrating. But also makes me value more the customers who truly understand and appreciate my work :) it's really tiring having to explain over and over again 'why' I would like to get paid for a job well done... And sometimes even insulting. It's good to hear from a fellow artist who knows EXACTLY how I feel, thank you for your message :)

  7. I am (and always have been) sucker for details and I just loooove to inspect all the little details, bits and pieces on performance costumes and headpieces. It is amazing what you've done for this piece and I love it. The colours, the materials, all the little details there are, and to combine that all to sturdy, lightweight and detachable awesomeness... I bow to you! You truly are a Professional with a capital P!

  8. A. that headpiece is TOTALLY GORGEOIS!
    2. I've heard it said, and it seems PERFECTLY applicable here, that people who undervalue incredible artwork like this tend to do it out of a devalued sense of self. Their own doubts surface as they are faced with true quality. Educational blogs like this help them to understand and educate them as to what all is involved. Huzzah!

  9. Totally agree about this. Hand made, quality, custom, bespoke, ORIGINAL,no, it is not cheap, and it IS worth it!

  10. Simply amazing, it's completely obvious why you charge 'expensive' prices lot of hard work at beauty goes into your pieces x

  11. Thank you for sharing your design process. My husband and I make elaborate headpieces too and often get questioned about why our work is so expensive. Learning how to price things right has taken us a long time. It is more than materials plus hours and overhead. There are years of experience in those hours. Hundreds of decisions get made about structure, surface, weight, balance, joints... for each piece and we make them based on a deep knowledge of our craft and an artist's eye. That's what our customers gladly pay for. I see that you do the same. Nice to discover a comrade!

    1. Thank you for your message Jen! Means a lot coming from a colleague! :)


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