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Thursday 21 October 2010

Theatrical Costumier

The inscription on this headstone in Southend-on-Sea intrigued me, for I could tell by the Greek Masks of Comedy and Tragedy that R. St.John Roper had been connected in some way with the world of Entertainment.
The name was not one that I was familiar with, but upon further research found out that R. St.John Roper had in fact been a theatrical costumier for traditional Seaside Resort Shows such as the Fols De Rols and many other West End productions including the 1950's 'Paris to Piccadilly'  when the famous scantily clad Folie Bergere appeared in England.
Here is a drawing of a design that came up for Auction and was expected to fetch between £200 - £300.

The finale of Encore Des Folies, for instance, grouped the entire company in black-sequined costumes against a decor composed wholly of rose-pink ostrich feathers! Altogether that particular show, on which the staggering figures are now available, used over twelve hundred costumes, a thousand yards of gold kid, and a quarter of a billion sequins; there were a £1000 worth of white fox furs, and a hundred yards of material were used in each showgirls crinoline. Even the scantily clad showgirls cost over £500 apiece to "dress" in extravagant head dresses, feathers and bejewelled accessories
and remember that these prices were in the early 1950's.


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