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In the current political climate, where the discussion about women’s civil rights is unbelievably back on the table, the history of burlesque costume fits right into that debate. Burlesque has become a popular topic and (almost) mainstream art form, but its costumes are also a key to the past, embedded in obscenity laws and restrictions about the display of women’s bodies that are as timely today, as they were nearly 100 years ago. The position of burlesque as a legitimate and significant part of American theater history and women’s history should be recognized, and the examination of its costumes is a perfect starting point.

The Costumes of Burlesque: 1866-2018 is the first volume to inclusively document burlesque costume from its birth in the 1860’s through the global burlesque movement in 2018. The lushly illustrated book presents the history and development of this American art form by documenting the origins, influencers, and genuine articles that created its aesthetic. Showcases of legendary performers, including Lydia Thompson, Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, Bettie Page, Kitten Natividad, and Dita Von Teese, demonstrate costume styles through the years.

This guide gives readers a clear view of how burlesque costume looked and why. It teaches collectors, burlesque performers, and fans alike to recognize vintage pieces for what they are and to design their own costumes with inspiration from the originals. By including detailed costume documentation, over 400 images, and interviews with prominent costume designers such as Catherine D’Lish and Project Runway finalist Garo Sparo, The Costumes of Burlesque brings 150 years of burlesque costume history to life.

The neo-burlesque movement has embraced the art of costume, and has elevated its existence, so that an ensemble can be whatever the performer desires from glamorous striptease to a political statement or an artful narrative act. The Costumes of Burlesque celebrates burlesque’s appreciation of the body, a costume’s impact on performance, and all levels of craftsmanship, from DIY to artistic mastery.  Publication of The Costumes of Burlesque is June 10, 2019 through publishers Routledge, Taylor and Francis and it is available at, and Barnes and

“The only book that focuses on the history of burlesque costume from its beginnings to today, The Costumes of Burlesque is a showcase of stunning ensembles as well as significant performers and designers from the last 150 years. Coleen Scott writes with passion for the art of burlesque, and an incredible depth of knowledge on costume history and construction.”

Coleen Scott is based in Santa Monica, California, and performed on the New York City burlesque scene for 11 years. She is a professional costume designer and makeup artist with a Masters degree in Costume Design from Boston University. She self published The Pastie Project, a book about the history of the burlesque pastie, in 2017 and is the author of the Legendary Costumes interview series for Burlesque Beat. Coleen is the costume designer and technician at Ventura College in Ventura, California.  She is a proud member of IATSE USA Local 829.

More Info:, Instagram: @thepastieproject and @coleenscottdesign