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Just how big a role does fashion play in The Puppini Sisters' act? "Let's put it this way," says Stephanie O'Brien, one-third of the London-based close harmony trio. "We go to do radio interviews dressed like this. We never let our glamour fade."
The Puppini Sisters' particular brand of Old Hollywood glamour translates to carefully curated retro ensembles topped off by pin curl coifs, matte makeup and luscious red lips. O'Brien, a willowy redhead, shares the spotlight with the petite, raven-haired Marcella Puppini and blonde bombshell Kate Mullins. Creating matching Big Band-era cocktail dresses, suits and gowns for three such different figures got to be too much for Puppini, a former designer at Vivienne Westwood, so the trio now enlists the help of a stylist to cull matching items from high street stores, vintage markets and Agent Provocateur. A seamstress, meanwhile, whips up coordinating looks to complement each singer's shape.
"There's so much work involved with things like sourcing fabrics that I'd rather stay home and work on the arrangements," says Puppini, who founded the group with her fellow Trinity College of Music alums three years ago after seeing "The Triplets of Belleville," an animated film that features a Forties-style harmony group.
Accompanied by an all-male gypsy-swing trio they also met at Trinity, The Puppini Sisters perform classics such at The Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B)," "Mr. Sandman" and "Jeepers Creepers." But the true showstoppers are the band's own arrangements of modern classics such as Blondie's "Heart of Glass" and Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights."
"We're not a typical girl band because we do a lot of work people wouldn't even know about unless they read the credits on the back of the album," O'Brien says. "We spend a lot of our time writing the music, arranging the songs, playing the music, rehearsing the music."
The group's flawless sound and all-out glamour won them a deal with Universal's Verve Records and a celebrity following that includes Kate Moss, Stella McCartney and the British Royal Family. Produced by "Belleville" music director Benoit Charest, The Puppini Sisters' first album, "Betcha Bottom Dollar," made its debut at number two on the U.S. jazz charts in May and led to a residency at The Oak Room in New York and an appearance on "The View." After wrapping up a 10-day tour of the U.S. this week, the girls are back at home, preparing to promote their second album, to be released in the U.K. in early October.