Towards the end of last year, I photographed and interviewed a few different people for a brand new website called The Rabbit Hole. The launch of the site has been put on hold whilst the editor is getting used to motherhood, but I wanted to blog these photographs of Jasmine Glover, the seamstress-slash-performer behind Ruby’s Imaginarium.
This shoot was particularly special to me since Jasmine was the first model I ever shot back in 2011, in a graffiti/post-apocalyptic themed shoot which you can see HERE. Whilst Jasmine still models occasionally, she is spending more time on upcycling and customising vintage clothes, and performing as a peepshow dancer in her own events.
Check out the photos and interview below!
An Afternoon at Ruby’s Imaginarium
Tucked away in the depths of the vast Zu Studios in Lewes, East Sussex, Ruby’s Imaginarium is a tiny corner of perfect fantasy. Stuffed full of vintage Victorian wear, home-made nipple tassels, exquisite shoes and beautiful accessories, proprietor Jasmine Glover is as much a curator as she is an artist.
“I don’t want to do anything normal. Ruby’s Imaginarium is all my creativity in one bubble!” Jasmine laughs, as she shows me one of the pieces she’s working on: a cropped jacket which is being covered in labels cut out from other items.
With the idea for Ruby’s Imaginarium conceived two years ago, it’s still in its infancy. Combining Jasmine’s multifarious creative skills – modelling, costume design, artwork, singing and events – the 22-yr old has such a vivid sense of style that she can combine all of her passions into one cohesive web. “It’s been really nice to have something to stick to. I tried singing and art… it didn’t really work. So this – clothes making and costume design – comes quite naturally and it’s nice to have that. It makes me want to do it more. I really want to put out one off costume pieces. The expression that comes with it is really satisfying.”
Dressed in fishnet stockings, red suede heels and a reworked waistcoat with added ruffle sleeves, Jasmine has firm beliefs underpinning her creativity. “I like to recycle lots because I don’t believe in high street chains. The quality isn’t always very good, and the production isn’t always from a good source. I prefer to go to charity shops and reuse clothes and create some spectacular one off pieces. There’s too much stuff in the world already, we should reuse things we already have. People buy things to make themselves feel good, but there’s so much waste already. It’s quite mad.”
She goes on to explain: “Things like underwear and shoes and socks, I do buy brand new. But I try to source everything else from vintage and second hand shops. If I can find old ribbons, that’s amazing, but I buy threads brand new because they need to be strong. The Victorian style is so unique and beautiful, and so well made. Today, things feel a lot more plain.”
Many of Jasmine’s items are absolutely exquisite. Does she find it hard to let things go after she’s laboured over them? “Haha, sometimes! I’m making a little lace top, it’s going to look so nice! It’s cream and coral with these blue antique buttons. I don’t want to part with it! But some pieces I keep for myself to wear.”
Despite her space at Zu Studios being really quite compact – a roofless spot not more than two metres square, perimetered by frosted glass doors nailed together – Jasmine has a bursting clothes rail in one corner, and her sewing machine set up opposite. A tiny heater blows out warm air, and posters of Christina Aguilera adorn the “walls”, as well as paintings of Jasmine herself from life modelling sessions.
Zu Studios is home to a variety of acrobats, performers, and artists of all kind. An ex-industrial space, it has private workshops for artists upstairs, and communal spaces downstairs, which are open to the public when an event is on. “You can build your own space,” explains Jasmine. “I want to add a roof with some storage.” So, has working here had an impact on Ruby’s Imaginarium? “Yes. Especially in Lewes, there’s so many antique shops. And Zu has so many creative minds, if I have an idea, I can bounce it off people. They really support what I do. It’s a hub of good vibes!
Jasmine discovered Zu after her mum mentioned a party happening there. “It’s a club, a bar, it’s got a dance room, and loads of quirky corners. The music variety is vast – metal, jazz, everything. It’s the best place for events. People wear all sorts. Nipple tassles, onesies, everything! We had a Day Of The Dead theme recently. Any party goes here, pretty much!”
After a large donation of bras from ALALA in Brighton – a charity supporting orphaned children – Ruby’s Imaginarium has recently started bra revamping. “I’m making them into costume bras, which I’ll sell and then give the money to the charity. Christine [the founder of ALALA] has just given me about 20 more, so it’s an ongoing project. Her shop is great, full of quirky things! I was holding revamp parties to help people sew, and add beads and tassles – it was really cool.”
Whilst Jasmine is really enthusiastic about her costume design, she has also started running events. “I’ve now got a boudoir room set up here at Zu with a mini stage. I’m hoping to do more peep shows. I just did my second one on Saturday and it went really well. There’s a board set up in front of the stage and it has peepholes with different lenses and binoculars, and things that distort your vision, like a fish eye lens, or doubled vision. I’ve really experimented with my first two peep shows, but they went really well.”
“I do some of the performance, some strip tease and burlesque. A few friends here at Zu come along and do circus performance and bed of nails. People just want to wear nipple tassels or get half-naked! It’s a very arty, burlesque-y, theatrical vibe. Quite dark and mysterious.”
And it seems like that could be the direction Jasmine veers towards. “I’d love to make it bigger and turn it into cabaret with mime and theatre and singing and food invovled, as well as strip tease. Just a whole mixture of performance in one venue. Festivals would be amazing too. It’d be a dream come true actually!”
To find out more about Ruby’s Imaginarium, check out the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RubysImaginarium