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Inspirations for New Dance Costume Designs

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Fri, Mar 01, 2013 @ 13:03 PM


I LOVE watching all the award shows on television, this time of year, don’t you? Of course, I love to see all the singing and dancing performances, but I also love to see what everyone is wearing, even the men. And of course I enjoy the re-hash shows such as ‘Fashion Police’ and ‘Entertainment Tonight’ to see if the industry ‘fashion experts’ agree with my take on what gowns worked, and didn’t work – on the celebrities. I admit, it’s so fun to see a fashion train-wreck, as much as being enthralled by the work of talented top-name designers, especially when a gown is properly altered and accessorized.

Besides, it’s great to see what the current trends are in silhouettes, colors and fabrics. These shows are a wonderful inspiration to me, as a costume designer. These shows whet my appetite for designing. And it’s even better to hear if others agree or disagree with my perspective.

And I always try to remember that if everyone had the same taste level, the fashion world would be very boring. All fashion designers pay attention to these shows, and translate their favorite looks into new ready-to-wear garments and/or new dance costume designs.

Of course every red-carpet gown can’t be translated literally into a dance costume, but features of every red-carpet gown can be. From the Grammy Awards red-carpet, some details that can be translated into a dance costume include the neckline detail and sun-burst pleating worn by Taylor Swift and even the outrageous 3-D detailing on Florence Welch. The peak-a-boo mesh on Kelly Rowland, for example, as well as the mesh bodice worn by Rihanna could both be re-designed for a dance costume.

I was disappointed with Jennifer Lopez, as her gown seemed too plain with too much leg showing (a la Angelina Jolie from a recent red-carpet). Beyonce was also disappointing. Her on-trend black and white jumpsuit was flattering and stylish, but it seemed too informal for this occasion.

As usual, there were stunningly beautiful gowns, many so-so gowns, and a few that begged the question...“What were they thinking?” But even the outrageous designs usually have some redeeming quality that could be incorporated into a new dance costume design.

The men really displayed their fashion sense (or lack thereof...). This was not unexpected, as musicians are generally more daring with their attire than others. I was happy that Justin Timberlake decided to dress up, rather than model one of his ‘suit and tie’ collaborations with Tom Ford. I enjoy men dressing in fashion-forward and eyebrow-raising attire. Sadly, our society has strayed from the natural peacock look for men. It’s a visual treat for my eyes, to see more edgy menswear.

I was especially interested to see if the memo that CBS delivered to the night’s participants regarding possibly titillating attire would have much bearing (or ‘baring’) on anyone. There was plenty of leg and cleavage, it seems... I expect that most participants had already picked out their attire before getting the laundry list of ‘what not to wear’. It seemed that MOST covered up their ‘naughty bits’, but not all.

So if you are considering designing a new dance costume, take mental notes of all the fashions at this year’s crop of awards shows and you just might find the right inspiration for some fabulous details on your new dance costume.

 ©Deborah J. Nelson/ Head Designer and President of Satin Stitches Ltd.
(as published in Minnesota Dancing Times March 2013)

Tags: Minnesota Dancer Magazine


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