Such an emotional week at “Dancing with the Stars”! But all the dancing was exciting to watch, wasn’t it? We were treated to two dances by all the remaining contestants. The first round was the ‘Redemption Round’…showcasing prior ‘not so good’ routines re-danced with much better results.
But with costuming, there were definitely winners and losers. And remember, I’m voicing my critique from the perspective of a Fashion/Costume Designer with a BFA degree in fashion design and 40+ years at the helm of our small custom performance costume company. And remember, ‘art’ is always up for interpretation and personal bias’. (Just in case any of my ‘fans’ thought I just blog for fun.) I hope that some of my thoughts educate others and influence making good choices with your personal dance costuming. Blah…blah…blah, right?
Lauren and Gleb re-danced the Paso Doble in near-Dominatrix duds for Lauren. Wow, what fun to see her is sexy/edgy garters and boots! She even exclaimed that she was surprised at her attire, yet she embraced it! One designer tip: make sure you are comfortable in your own skin, and in your dance costume – literally and figuratively. Gleb’s leather trimmed costume coordinated well, with Lauren’s.
Kel and Witney then re-danced their Tango, with Kel in an ‘interesting’ (invoke the true Swedish/Midwest meaning here…) outfit. Note my raised eyebrow! The eye-pleasing 1/3 to 2/3 proportion was in effect, with the upper 1/3 of his suit a traditional black jacket, shirt and tie (oh my!) with a matching large floral design incorporated into the lower part of this jacket and his trousers. What can I say, except…’really’???? That floral pattern was used on Witney’s lovely halter bustier, bedazzled with rhinestones and paired with fluid, floral semi-sheer skirt. I didn’t care for the little neck ruffle – I would not have added that. Witney’s gown could and should, inspire many dancers. I hope that Kel’s doesn’t.
Ally and Sasha presented a re-boot of their Viennese Waltz with Ally in a luscious red lingerie-inspired leotard with pull-on classy and sophisticated double-layered fluid, woven chiffon skirt with a flowing sash. While I loved her costume, I did not love Sasha’s uninspired gray suit with blue and red flower printed shirt. That was a really ugly shirt and didn’t coordinate seamlessly with Ally’s costume. I think any other shirt would have been multitudes better than a 60’s floral print. In the costume design department’s defense…there was a time when my daughter thought a polyester double-knit outfit was ‘cool’… I forbade her to purchase that style and suggested she pull an outfit out of her grandmothers’ closet from the 70’s. Ugh!!! (She thankfully didn’t.)
Hannah and ‘Minnesota’s Own’ Alan danced a very golden Rumba. While Alan wore black jeans and a sheer woven gold lame shirt to showcase his bare-naked chest, Hannah was regal in her golden costume. Her nude leotard was fully encrusted with crystal and golden rhinestones and worn with a stunningly simple sheer woven gold lame skirt with richly ruched waistband. Real straps were incorporated into her modest and enchanting ensemble.
James and Emma completed the Redemption dances with an uninspiring Cha Cha. As Len pointed out, it had many, many acrobatic Disco-esque moves. We learned later, why James wasn’t inspired for this routine. Their costumes were inspired by Disco music, but they also didn’t measure up, in my opinion. While we have used black holographic spandex in many a dance costume, James shirt with inner black accents, paired with simple black trousers with holographic side stripes was ‘ho hum’. Emma’s costume was more over-the-top with over-the-knee ‘boot-lets’. Lots of long fringe was used on her long-sleeved leotard with deep V (filled in with nude sheer mesh to hold the costume in place). I DID like the use of different colored fringe tufts to pick up the colors in the holographic fabric, though. This not a ‘quid-pro-quo’ though, or was it?
For the contestant’s final dances, in hopes of making it to the Finals, the theme was ‘dedicating’ their dances to someone or something.
Lauren and Gleb danced a Viennese Waltz with Gleb in a white suit that Bruno described accurately…he noted that it looked like he had a fight in a paint store. Right on, Bruno. Obviously someone with a big budget for costumes can get ‘current’ and incorporate either sublimation printing or spray-painting, which is what it looked like! Lauren sported a bright pink, long-sleeved gown that incorporated custom sunburst pleating that was a staple of ballroom costumes back in the 80’s. The custom pleating companies have disappeared over the last several decades. Apparently there may be some pleating machines that survived in the Los Angeles area – thank goodness! Lauren’s dress was a definite throwback to the more modest era of ballroom costumes, updated by the lack of lining in the skirt.
Kel and Witney presented a Contemporary routine with Kel in a non-traditional shirt with basic pants. His shirt pushed the edge for men’s costuming, using a sheer, embroidered woven fabric that incorporated an embroidered scalloped hemline. With rhinestone accents. I liked it. Did I like Witney’s more traditional costume? Not as much, as it used nude back elastic and the skirt gathered a bit in the back, so that she could pull it on. Those gathers looked a bit bumpy and non-tailored. A solution? Perhaps a stretch waistband on the back, above the gathers, to facilitate pulling the costume on, and of course – designing beautiful bandings instead of ugly nude elastic.
Ally and Sasha danced a dynamic Charleston to a song that ALL mothers of young dancers enrolled in competitive dance studios have etched in their musical memories. It was fun to hear that Ally loved ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ by Benny Goodman! Their nearly matching bright yellow suits were perfect for their routine! They were beautifully tailored in heavy fabric that suited the styling. And the costumers showed how to feminize a men’s suit design. You can’t use thin fabrics and achieve the same results. Fabrics matter!
James and Emma presented a Fox Trot with James in a ‘Steam-Punk’ inspired tailed tuxedo jacket and trousers. I enjoyed the glitz-bespeckled jacket fabric and all the metal trims. I did NOT enjoy Emma’s sheer dress with odd trimming. I didn’t understand it. Maybe you did? Or was an office person tasked with ‘decorating’ her dress? It was distracting to me, and I hated it! And spoiler alert – I’ve enjoyed James and Emma dancing, all through the season, so I’m sorry to see them eliminated, and I’m double sorry for his personal family loss, over last weekend.
Then, Hannah and 'Minnesota’s Own' Alan performed a classy Contemporary routine. I LOVED their costumes! With the lighting, I was fooled with just what colors were used, but in the regular lighting, I saw burgundy and seeing monochromatic fabrics and rhinestoning. The split panels on Hannah’s costume moved beautifully, and the use of nude back elastic wasn’t ‘in your face’.
The finals are always a mixed bag for costuming, but I’m looking forward to seeing just what the costume designers pull out of their bag!