The 360 Feminine Power of the Retronettes

(Photography courtesy of Bart Ramakers)

There has always been a difference between Europe and America in terms of sensitivity. While the US seems to be fixated on political correctness meets puritanical ethos, many of our old- world cousins simply relax and enjoy what they see as creative expression. Belgium company RADAR is known for bringing exceptional entertainment to massive festivals and high end events for brands like H&M, Ernst & Young, and others. RADAR in known for its affinity for grand eras of the past, ideally presented by their own dance troupe the Retronettes. With looks ranging from space-age femme fatales to coquette pin-ups, these entertainers embody beauty and talent. They communicate a sly subtlety to match their flawless makeup and rhinestone costumes. Worldwide acclaim at appearances such as: the Tomorrowland stage (Europe’s massive EDM music festival), at Bal de rat Mort- Oostende, Belgium as Great Gatsby Flapper Girls, the Burlesque Follies in Nice, France and the Rock Werchter Festival have solidified the Retronettes as one of the premier female entertainment ensembles of this decade.

The skilled women who make up the Retronettes use the varied visual presentations of themselves to allow a malleability to varying performances. Retronettes Art Director Florence Agrati enlisted Frances Folies (legal name of Fraukje Van De Wiele) to help manifest the make-up and hairstyling for these varied looks. Agrati relates, “The Retronettes is the main concept I created for Radar Events; they are our house entertainers. Their style is vintage-inspired with a fashion modern twist. The costuming varies with performances and the make-up is a subtle with an aspect of extreme believability. It’s very important that these looks enhance the costuming and also are durable enough for these physical performances. Frances is a treasure! In Belgium and Europe, I don’t work with any other make-up artist with such vision. She is unique!”

The Retronettes enchant audiences with their skilled performances. They also keep admirers guessing as they present themselves with iterations which range from 20’s Gatsby Flapper Girls to 50’s Pin-Up, 1960’s Femme Fatales to Aerobics girls from the 80’s. When famed photographer Bart Ramakers conducted a photo shoot featuring the Retronettes, Frances crafted the look of each decade to historical accuracy to communicate the style of the time. While it called for an immaculate attention to detail, the shoot was still less taxing than Folies design of looks for the Retronettes which they could self-apply for live appearances. The make-up artist’s work with professionals like model Gia Geneviere and hip-hop DJ Kisa keeps her travel log booked and makes her unavailable from time to time. Frances concedes, “The hardest part of my work with the Retronettes was creating a look that was ideally matched to the overall look yet not too complicated for non make-up artists to apply easily. We had teaching sessions to this end. It’s not in the details or finesse, it’s more about the overall effect that can be seen from far by the audience.”

In the Retronettes, Radar Events has reinvented the female dance troupe by fusing anonymity and recognizability. You may not know the individual members or even what the group will look like when they show up, but you know that they will be mesmerizing. From the choreography to the costumes to the look of each member, the Retronettes are a gift in entertainment form.

(Photography courtesy of Thierry Van Dort)

An LA based writer with more than a decade as a staff writer for NYC based Drumhead magazine, Kelly is also a contributor to a number of outlets.

An LA based writer with more than a decade as a staff writer for NYC based Drumhead magazine, Kelly is also a contributor to a number of outlets.