So you ask “Who is Prince Powderpouffe and who is his seamstress?” The Prince, whose signature look includes high hair, costume couture and generous applications of mascara, comes from the imagination and sewing skills of Eric Strauss.
“I enjoy the 17th century man. It was a time when men were coiffed and dressed to the nines,” says Strauss. His creation has been a glorious undertaking. His sewing and design skills come from the FIT classroom, but his sourcing of fabric and trim (with emphasis on lace and feathers) is his own.
Strauss had long adored “Halloween-ing”–the parading of his creations of fanciful couture, character costumes. But the magical nights were too infrequent. “I had to figure out a way to dress up more often.” Enter Prince Powderpouffe.
Such a penchant for couture flamboyance isn’t without technique, and it starts with the basics: “In FD131 Sewing Techniques with Professor Joan Endres I learned that different fabrics react differently in the sewing machine, so it’s important to test the fabric first. If it puckers or jams, you adjust the tension. It’s important to fit the fabric in grain, especially when the pattern is so prominent with a definitive pattern repeat. It ensures the pattern is flowing in the same direction,” says Strauss.
Special care was taken with interfacing, and acquiring trimming and fabric. “I used interfacing in the collar and cuffs for a strong hard line. The eight yards of fabric came from fabric.com. They have great pricing, whereas purchasing in New York City the price jumps. The trims came from a variety of stores in the Garment District. My personal favorites are M&J Trimming and Joyce Button and Trim.”
“The epaulets are my signature specialty. They’re made from wooden discs covered in fabric, adorned with tassel trim then screwed into the shoulders. It’s my favorite part of the look. It gives the garment a grand, royal, elegant feel.”
Eric purchased an industrial machine, a Juki, which he says spoiled him. “After class, I would go home to my regular machine and felt as if I was sewing on a child’s toy–a flimsy piece of plastic. It constantly tripped, jammed and broke down. With my new one I can sew through the layers of fabric and never worry about it getting caught up.”
Prince Powderpouffe finally emerged after an enchanted evening. “On June 5, 2014, I was invited to a show called ‘Queen of the Night.'” Attendees were instructed to dress to impress the queen, yet tuxedos and cocktail dresses were the common attire. “I wore a look that resembled a Royal Prince,” says Strauss.
Yet he was “still simply a boy in wig and lashes,” he says. Nonetheless, the night out was magical. “People were running up to me, taking pictures, asking about my costume. They wanted to know all about me.”
A few weeks later Strauss was invited to a costumed masquerade ball, and put together another look. He stepped out as Prince Powderpouffe.
“I always say that drag happened to me by accident. It was on that night out to impress the Queen that Prince Powderpouffe was born.”
Photos provided by Eric Strauss