Photo: Sukki Singapora
With a 32E bust and a waist smaller than her head – it measures 171/2 inches when corseted – Singapore’s first burlesque artist Sukki Singapora has an hourglass figure most women would kill for.
It was not achieved overnight, but through tightlacing – the practice of wearing a tightly laced corset – over years.
She told The New Paper: “I have an Asian body with a Caucasian bust. I think I started at around 25 inches until I hit 171/2. It does not hurt, it just feels like I am having a really firm cuddle.
“And my ribs have gone a teeny bit bendy, whereas yours probably do a better job of protecting your lungs.”
Photo: Sukki Singapora
The 28-year-old, whose real name is Sukki Menon and whose father is Indian Singaporean and mother English, added that finding clothes that fit her can “definitely be challenging”.
Despite that, her wardrobe – or what she refers to as ” room-drobe” – is filled with dresses.
Describing it as a “history book” of her career, she said: “I couldn’t count the amount of dresses I own, it is ridiculous.
“I also like to keep my looks fresh, so my collection keeps expanding, and I love each piece so much.
“Each outfit has a story or has been with me and seen so many crazy things and been a part of so many moments.”
Inspired by eras rather than people, Menon mixes vintage and contemporary pieces, infused with Indian influences.
“I do not tend to follow trends, I go with what feels right intuitively, and I am not afraid to mix things up,” she said.
“I think what burlesque did was give me more confidence when it came to taking risks with what I wore.
“I am actually quite shy naturally, so burlesque helped me develop the confidence to celebrate my body and really express myself in the way I always wanted to.”
When she wants to get her glam on, classic Hollywood is her go-to make-up look.
So it is no surprise that Menon – who “can’t live without a good red lip” – teamed up with global cosmetics brand LA Splash Cosmetics to launch a lipstick collection late last year.
It is made up of three mattes and three glosses, ranging from pinks to a gold to statement reds.
“I adore lipstick, but I was frustrated by how hard it was to find the right shade, and find a matte that did not crack, dry out or leave stains on my coffee mugs…
“I could never find anything that came close to the mixes I created myself,” she said.
“I wanted to create more than just a lipstick line, I wanted every woman – or man – who wore them to feel like they had the confidence to take on the world.
“I think being the best version of you starts with feeling confident, and I hope my lipsticks can be the catalyst for that.”
More than half her closet is filled with vintage fashion.
For the Singapore International Film Festival benefit gala last November, she opted for a classic updo, a flamboyant pink gown from Golyester, a vintage store in Los Angeles and her own lipstick in a punchy pink shade named Girl Power.
Photo: Sukki Singapora
She designs her own costumes for every show, except for her corsets, which are created by her corsetiere as they are professionally steel boned.
“I literally weave everything I am into each garment, and always make sure to include an element of sari as a nod to my heritage,” she said.
For her first show in Hollywood last year, she wanted “to enter the scene with a bang” and went all out to create something “unashamedly” her.
Inspired by saris, Japanese obis and pom poms, her heavily embellished, multi-coloured get-up was matched with shoes from English footwear brand Irregular Choice.
“It is like (the shoes) were made for the act. They have rainbows with clouds and heels (that) are blue bunnies,” she said.
Although she can be found in more off-duty attire at the airport or in the gym, her idea of casual is not as dressed-down as one would expect.
“Even then I can’t help but coordinate. Style is something that just comes out intuitively,” she said.
That is why she paired a vintage 80s lace top with Zara pants and Forever 21 velvet bomber jacket on her flight, to stay comfortable yet still feel elegant.
Even her red carpet looks are inspired by burlesque, like this sheer yellow gown by US fashion designer Leanne Marshall, which she wore to the Elton John Aids Foundation Oscars viewing party last year.
She said: “I love that it is sheer but not too sheer. As with burlesque, it is all about the tease.”
In the headdress she made, she felt like she was “channelling (US pop star) Beyonce in her Lemonade music video”.
This article was originally published in The New Paper.