Rachel St James is the "Art of Glamour". An internationally renowned dancer and glamour model, Rachel has dipped her toe in many media expeditions and now teaches classic burlesque. Parlour X speaks to the style maker & mother about her life and career, personal style and inspiration, and her exciting new ventures.
Briefly describe your career journey to date. Where did it all begin and what do you do now?
I grew up in North Queensland and was a competitive swimmer reacher state championships. At the age of 12 (when my height and stature was way too petite) I turned my passion to classical ballet, roller skating, and drama. I was obsessed by watching films from the golden era of Hollywood, the sirens of the Silver Screen seemed so glamorous. On a family trip to Paris my parents took me to the famous Moulin Rouge, I was blown away by the Showgirls in sparkling costumes with giant plume head pieces and backpacks.
At 18, I moved to Sydney and forged a career in Entertainment. Taking acting classes at the Actors Centre and dance lessons at Sydney Dance company. After doing a few modelling jobs and TV commercials with a few bit parts in films, it was while shopping ina lingerie Boutique, when a female Photographer Bambi Daul, approached me to pose as a Glamour Model for Australian Penthouse Magazine. I agreed thinking if it was good enough for Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe it's good enough for me.
I went on the win Penthouse Pet of the Year, during that time I got a crash course in media training and learnt how to make business from my modelling work. I also worked as a TV host for Network 10 on a show called Blokesworld, as my own character Miss Blokesworld, a down to earth beauty queen. It was a publisher who asked me to create a routine in giant Martini Glass for a special event. It was during a time when "Burlesque Dance" was having a huge world wide resurgence. My signature Burlesque "Martini glass" routine was booked for A-list events all over Australia and the world.
Burlesque Dance is a theatrical art form with splendid props and costumes. My style is very much a combination of old school Hollywood glamour and Parisian cabaret. It incorporates elements of tease without nudity in a very elegant and artistic fashion.
You have established a formidable brand stemming from the "art of glamour", what does being glamorous mean to you?
I enjoy the idea of being polished in my appearance, wearing makeup, styling my hair, putting on a nice outfit that enhances my best features and wearing a pair of fabulous heels. All that aside the most important element is confidence. Which is what my career has taught me to do. No matter what you do, own it!
From your perspective, what is something simple that someone could do to incorporate a bit more glamour into their everyday life?
The two most simple things someone could do to incorporate some glamour into everyday life is to put on a slick of Chanel lipstick and a killer pair of heels.
Your work has taken you all over the world - how does it feel to have had these amazing opportunities to share what you love?
I feel extremely blessed and grateful to have had some wonderful opportunities to share my artform. However, it hasn't been without a lot of hardwork and setbacks along the way.
Is there a career highlight (either in Australia or internationally) that you will always remember?
Yes! There are several, when I performed for the Boucheron jewellery launch in Singapore, I remember it being such a glamorous event with guests from all over Europe and Asia. For my performance I was wearing a divine white Swarovski crystal bikini and head piece with loads of extravagant white ostrich feathers. To top it off I wore a 2 million dollar diamond necklace from Boucheron that came with its very own armed security guard...
And of course being the headline act at Johnny Depp's club in Paris 'Le Manray', was a major highlight in my career.
Your burlesque performances are wonderfully creative - where/how do you find inspiration for such fabulous set design and performances?
My inspirations come from watching films from the Golden Era of Hollywood, the sirens of the Silver Screen. My style is very much a combination of old school hollywood glamour and Parisian cabaret. It incorporates elements of tease without nudity in a very elegant and artistic fashion.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I always start my day with the right mindset, and lots of cups of tea. I prefer to wake up early and take my time getting ready. I really enjoy makeup application as a form of meditation and getting into character for the day. Each day isn't complete without some exercise such as walking the dog in nature or taking a barre class, or both. Rather than TV I love to have music playing. Clean eating is very important to me, I like to plan and organise my meals for the day before lunch. The afternoons are kept free for a beauty treatment, catch up with my girlfriends or a photoshoot. The rest of the time is dedicated to my family, with a focus on enjoying my beautiful daughter Isabelle who has just turned 8.
How would you describe your personal style? (fashion)
Classic with a chic edge.
I love pieces that enhance your best assets, like a gorgeous blazer with a bodysuit and tapered trousers. I am also very partial to a beautiful dress and heels.
Has your personal style been consistent over the years, or do you find that it's ever evolving and changing? (fashion)
Over the time I have refined my taste and know what truly suits me, especially when it comes to luxury essentials and wardrobe staples. But, on the other side, the showgirl in me loves to play dress ups. I am not afraid to take some risks with different silhouettes and colours.
Who do you look to for fashion and style inspiration? (eg. celebrity, personal style icon, vintage references, magazines etc.)
In theme with my mantra I love a mix of glamour with effortless French chic. My ultimate style icons are Brigette Bardot, and Catherine Deneuve. I also love a 90's supermodel, like Linda, Claudia and Boho Queen Kate Moss.
What are you favourite brands from Parlour X?
Are there any particular pieces (at Parlour X) you have your eye on at the moment?
What is next for Rachel St James?
I am launching my new business in children's entertainment "Pretty Belle" a luxury spa and pamper parties for tweens, teaching "The Art of Glamour" to the next generation of young stars.