I popped in to visit Rose Chong with the intention of photographing the installation of independent label Gun Shy but became distracted by the cacophony of colour and texture. To put things into context, Gun Shy is the brainchild of Kathryn Jamieson who creates explosive and innovative glamorous faux fur pieces. By contrast, Rose Chong is a costume store nestled in Fitzroy located on Gertrude Street- what I would personally consider the fashionable hub of Melbourne. Instinctively I had to archive all the beautiful costumes, as well as the crazy window installations featuring cactus costume and taco wrap dress. The pastel pink walls as well as fabulous range of both men's and women's costumes are among the best I've ever seen. They also had an amazing range of wigs, eyelashes and body glitter which I gleefully admire, both from afar and up close. What really stood out was the number of sequined, as well as ruffled and fur vintage pieces which the store has sourced as part of their costume store.
Aside from the store looking immaculate and beautiful, with roses intertwined with hanging chains and luscious red carpet the staff were super friendly and had a ton of advice on how to wear each costume and styling. They were kind enough not to scold me when I ascended the stairs searching for more costumes (when in fact that was where the office was!) but more than that they were happy to help and offer advice. From pinning a costume to wearing wigs and using hair spray each person was an endless fountain of knowledge. In a very weird way I can see parallels between a costume shop and fashion as an industry- it reflects the historical context of clothing as well as popular culture. Strolling through the aisles you can see a tidy summary of how fashion has evolved over the last century, as well as costumes inspired by historical figures and period pieces and comic book super heroes. These same motifs and techniques are borrowed by and subsequently reinvented by designers, although popular culture infiltrating the world of fashion is far more subtle.
I think what makes Rose Chong so appealing is that although the costumes are made for adults and there's not really a kid's section, the atmosphere is so magical. Like if I were to venture into its depths as a twelve year old I would genuinely try and hide in amongst the furry bunny costumes and stay there over night. Imagine a kid's movie with a terrible plot line starring Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes reinforcing gross stereotypes only with more nuance and glitter. It represents everything I love about visiting a brick and mortar store which dulls in comparison to say, a website no matter how beautifully contrived that might be. More than that it encourages me to actually get dressed in the mornings, rather than wearing the same gross pair of jeans. This follows the philosophy and sentiment echoed by blogs such as Advanced Style in which women dress for the drama of everyday life and actively reject the mundane through personal style.