A burlesque window of opportunity in Sheffield

Burlesque performers at Birds Yard on Chapel Walk
Burlesque performers at Birds Yard on Chapel Walk
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Talk about window shopping! This risqué display in a Sheffield shop certainly turned a few heads.

Models and dancers draped over a bathtub filled with petals attracted quite a bit of attention as they posed in the window of Bird’s Yard on Chapel Walk.

The day of burlesque – with tutorials in chair dancing and burlesque striptease – was organised by Kiss Me Deadly, one of Bird’s Yard’s pop-up shop owners.

“It was a day devoted to getting women back in stockings and making them feel great about themselves,” said Michelle Symmons, sales manager for the vintage-inspired Sheffield lingerie company.

“We had our lovely models there – and these are natural, curvy, beautiful women – showing ladies that normal people can look great in this sort of underwear.

“There was a time when stockings and corsets were common practice, but these days the thinking seems to be ‘if nobody’s going to see it, why bother?’.

“The truth is that clothes like these are incredibly empowering. They make you feel great about yourself, confident and sexy, and put a little swagger into your walk – even if nobody’s going to see them but you. You know they’re there – and they really do make your clothing look and feel better on the outside.”

Crowds of women – and men too – popped into the Sheffield shop, which features items from dozens of local traders and artists, for a closer look at what was going on.

Burlesque dancers held workshops in everything from stripping off gloves and sliding down stockings to dancing on chairs.

“It was so much fun,” said Michelle.

“We had some lovely conversations with women in their 60s and 70s who were reminiscing over wearing stockings and corsets and saying how much they missed it.”

The Sheffield-based company was launched nine years ago by former health and social care worker Catherine Clavering, who found a hole in the marketplace after struggling to buy a decent garter belt anywhere in the city.

Michelle was a devoted customer of Kiss Me Deadly long before she began working for the company, which has been based in Bird’s Yard for nearly four months, and also has a shop in London.

The 47-year-old, of Hunters Bar, said: “A lot of women are just like I was.

“They think the underwear looks pretty, but they don’t really know where to start.

“That’s why events like this are great, they give you the chance to see things up close, ask questions, try things out and it’s all good fun and makes you feel wonderful.

“This isn’t about dressing for somebody else, it’s about how it makes you feel.

“Take today, for example, I’m wearing beautiful lingerie under my jeans and, even though nobody’s going to see it but me, it gives me such a boost to know that underneath my clothes I look absolutely lovely.”