An Abba superfan who has spent £850 turning her family into ‘super troupers’ with hand-crafted versions of her idols’ stage costumes has now turned her hand to canine couture – making two tribute outfits for her daughter’s new dog.
Not content with filling her wardrobe with customised outfits for herself and her daughters – Lucy Henry, 26, a digital media executive, and Chloe Henry, 23, a photographer – Jane Henry, 56, a retired chief officer for a local council, has run up two sequin-festooned onesies for her youngest girl’s pooch.
And Jane, of Tynemouth, North Tyneside, insists 13-month-old Yorkshire terrier-Pomeranian cross Simba rocks his new look, saying: “We call him Sim-babba now!”
While spending 40 hours making Abba gear for dogs may sound barking mad to most people, Jane’s obsession with the Swedish stars is something her family – including company chairman husband Richard, 57, and son Thomas Henry, 25, an admin assistant – are used to.
She said: “I’ve been Abba mad since I was nine and not only are my family used it now, they love them, too.
“My daughters, especially, love dressing up and coming to every Abba event I can find with me.”
Of course, when Simba modelled his new white and gold outfit – copied from Abba stage costumes – Jane just had to run up matching gear for her and her girls.
She laughed: “It was my idea, to make some costumes for Simba, although Chloe, who got him during lockdown in November 2020, was all for it.
“Simba loves Abba. He’s a really musical dog and loves getting ready with us for a night out. He poses with us for photos, but we can’t take him to tribute gigs, sadly.”
She added: “He’s like my grandchild, so I couldn’t wait to make him his own customised Mamma Mia outfits.”
Jane started creating costumes for her family before her hen night in May 2016 and has since spent £850 making 17 outfits.
She is working on nine more for her Abba-themed year to celebrate their recent comeback and plans to follow everything they do in 2022.
“I average six Abba events a year, not including tribute bands, and have a book of all my themed visits,” she said.
“I’ve made 17 outfits altogether and am working on another nine for the avatar concert and ‘Mamma Mia the Party’, a feel-good night out singing along to the band’s famous film next year at London’s O2.
“I’m making 2022 my Abba year. We’re going to Mamma Mia the party in March, the Voyage concert in June, Skopelos – the Greek island where Mamma Mia was filmed in July – and I’m jetting to the Abba Museum in Sweden on August 5 2022.”
And she will be proudly showing off Simba’s unique Abba style at every opportunity possible.
She said: “We call Simba the baby and I even call myself his granny. He’s such a lovely dog and it may sound strange, but he loves music.
“Chloe’s partner, Joe, is a musician, so he is always around music.”
She added: “My dad always played music in the house., so it runs from the family and has even been passed down to the dog.
“We do everything as a family, so of course I had to include Simba. Now, every time I’m making new outfits, Simba is going to get one.”
His newest outfit – doggy dungarees – is based on a set worn by singer Björn Ulvaeus, while the other canine costume is a frilly affair.
“I based the latest outfit on the dungarees Bjorn actually wore,” said Jane.
“Simba’s first outfit was a white frilled onesie with ABBA on the back. He loves them both and really enjoys wearing them. I think he likes being part of our family fan club.
“To make them, I just start with a basic dog onesie that fastens underneath with Velcro or poppers.”
She added: “Then I just have fun.
“I put legs in and then let my imagination run away with me from there.
“For the Bjorn one with the gold shirt and dungarees, I used scraps of fabric left over from making our human costumes.”
She added: “They only take a few days. The first one took the longest, but now I know his size I can make them easily.”
Meanwhile, Simba loves modelling his doggy designs.
“He loves having photos taken,” laughed Jane.
She added: “His dungarees match our white and gold dresses that I’ve recently finished. We saw an Abba tribute band last night without Simba and people kept coming up to Chloe and me, telling us how amazing our outfits were.
“They said they were better than the tribute band we were watching!”
But Jane says Simba is the real star of the show, gaining over 3,000 views on social media.
“He showcased his first outfit in October. I was amazed when I put it on TikTok it got over 3,000 views,” she said.
“The response has been amazing. It’s got way more attention than any of the outfits I’ve made for me and the girls.
And Jane insists she’s got plenty more designs up her sleeve for 2022.
“I’m going to get a new embroidery machine so I can do the detailing better,” she said.
“I’m always thinking of designs, and I’ve already got another three in my head to do for next year. I’m so excited about 2022, it’s going to be a real Abba year.
“Everyone thought I was barking mad for Abba but now I really am!”