Saturday, November 19, 2011

Charlie and Jana in Black and Red

Don't they make an adorable Pro-Am team?  Jana is Charlie's teacher, and they compete all over the United States together.  Charlie really likes to have a great and unique look on the floor, and this is the fourth set of costumes I have created for him and Jana.  Jana is an artist in her own right and likes to be very involved in their design process.  This time, she brought me sketches of what they wanted and Michele and I did our best with her designs.

Jana's gown reminds me of a "French Maid" look.  I kept thinking it needed ruffled panties, or a feather duster as a prop.  And I can't quite stop wishing Jana had red shoes.

It's a simple and clean gown, in black with red details, a very classic Latin and rhythm color scheme. Since dancers spend the majority of their time on the competition floor facing each other, I am very fond of 3-D details, and this dress delivers!

The skirt is very flirty and the detailing at the back with the sash, crisp little bow, and split to reveal the ruffled 1950's crinoline style petticoat is so cute in action.
I also feel like I had the perfect piece of jewelry to offer Jana. 
 Somehow the flowers and styling feel very French to me!

An up-close look...

               Most of the jewelry I purchase for re-sale requires adjustment and sizing,
                               and I am glad to offer that service for my clients.
Charlie's suit provides a nice frame for Jana's "picture."  Charlie is always chilly in the ballroom, which is generally kept cool for the comfort of dancers working hard on the floor.  I've been thinking that I would love to design a smoking jacket styled dance costume for him, maybe velvet, with a quilted satin shawl collar.  It would be warm and cozy, and I think, flattering as well on Charlie's slim frame. 

Our last set of costumes featured Charlie in a wrap-style coat, which I loved on him.  Here's a peek!
Love the addition of the snowflake pin on Charlie's lapel
(from the Snowball Competition last January!)
and Jana's puff bangle bracelet.
Charlie has mentioned thinking about a set of French blue costumes for his and Jana's next look, and I look forward to working with them again!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cathy's First Gown

Cathy is a confident and lovely young dancer at Arthur Murray St. Paul, and her teacher Nate suggested she visit me when she was ready to have her first ballgown created.  Both Nate and his wife Rachel, also an Arthur Murray instructor and counselor, offered their ideas about what the general impression of Cathy's gown should be.   Nate said, "poised, regal and elegant" and Rachel offered "demure, lighthearted, and clean."  Cathy brought me lots of mages all of which featured cool, peacock colors and most of which also had floral motifs.  We decided that purple was the right royal touch, and used jeweled floral lace to ensure the gown had a youthful and lighthearted quality.

I see what Nate meant by "poised."
Cathy did lots of rhinestone application on her gown to help keep costs reasonable.  I finished her necklace and earrings for her, to show her what I had in mind for the lace.
 Then, using the lace as a guide and doing a sort of "paint by number" process, she spent about 20 hours, over a 10 day period, adding stones to the lace on the front...
...and the back of the bodice...

... the cuffs,

... and the barette.
  Because Cathy's hair is dark, we backed the barette with black ultrasuede, so the jeweled flowers could appear to sit neatly in her hair, which I think worked out nicely!
Then Cathy returned the gown to me, after a practice session to assure that everything worked as expected and to give her time to get used to the idea of wearing the gown.  She was so sweet, telling me how hard it had been to dance in it the first time without trying to watch the dress move in the mirror instead of concentrating on her dancing, and how exhilirating it was to feel fabric swirling around her legs and seeing the cuffs sparkle as she extended  her arms.  I can remember those feelings well, and some of my professional clients intentionally get new costumes for big competitions, specifically for the added sense of excitement and discovery they provide.
 I finished the gown by placing the less-fun-to-apply, but equally important, amethyst stones on the gown bodice, and then, I installed a delightful detail.  The electric blue pearl chiffon underskirt provides flashes of color in movement and adds a great deal of depth to the layers of skirt.  I was fortunate to see her dance at her showcase event on Sunday, and take a few photos. 
And that is Made for Movement menswear on Nate as well.  Don't they look wonderful?

I love working with first-time clients and Cathy did an wonderful job of both the rhinestone application, and with trusting me and the Made for Movement process.  I look forward to working with her again!

In the mean time, as Rachel suggested to Cathy when she called after wearing the gown for the first time and was sad to have to take it off, "It would not be entirely wrong to watch TV in it some night..."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bonnie's "Illusion of Suspended Elevation"

I always ask my clients to bring me a word or short phrase that describes what their gown will be.  Bonnie brought me a unique phrase, compliments of her coach Paul Botes.  Paul tells Bonnie and her partner/fiance, (tall and dark Ed) that they must be floaty, lightweight, and ethereal, creating an "illusion of suspended elevation."  Thanks Paul!  That was a really fun phrase to work with!

We had to immediately dash several ideas.  Like, deep, dark sapphire blue, which was Ed's hope, but sadly will probably never be an obviously lightweight choice.  Bonnie had polled both of her coaches about what her gown might include and teacher Scott Anderson suggested she "Go Gold!" Given Bonnie's beautiful light blonde hair, we decided on a soft platinum gold, (the third gown in my golden autumn trifecta) and went hunting for fabric that was light and metallic at the same time.  Bonnie found this beautiful gold-embossed organza locally, and I approved!  I offered the metallic gold slinky for the bodice.  I was pleased that Bonnie chose asymmetrical style lines for her gown, and happy to balance and support them with the diagonal hemline of the overskirt and  the creamy french vanilla mesh of the left sleeve.  Asymmetrical gowns are visually in motion before the dancing begins, and usually a plus for the wearer.

Bonnie showed me the hemline of a beautifully detailed British gown with bits of feather and fabric floating along the topskirt hemline and I created some organza leaf shapes and vanilla spiral fringe to make our own floaty statement at Bonnie's hem, applied to a pale gold charmeuse underskirt.
This beautiful detail repeats on the opposite side of the gown on the draped mesh sleeve top, nicely in balance and the perfect justification for each other's presence.

Bonnie did her own rhinestone application, after we applied the large sew-on jewels to the edges of the bodice and skirt for her, and did a great job, while keeping the cost of her gown reasonable.   She did all the Crystal AB fill-in at the borders, as well as the guilding of the metallic gold slinky bodice and sleeve with Swarovski Light Topaz AB.
Bonnie's gown needed to serve for both  American Style Smooth and for International Standard.  Standard style dancing is done in hold so the costumes often include wings or floats for the ladie's gown.  We created detachable floats (very "floaty" floats, given the lightness of the organza!) for the gown that will be used for Standard and removed for Smooth style dancing.
A super treat for me is to be able to show you Bonnie in her new gown, (in its International Standard Configuration) dancing with Ed!   You can see their Quickstep at Minnesota Madness by clicking on the link below. They begin their heat at the far corner of the room.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kim's Fuchsia Petunia

When Kim and I began working on her Rhythm gown for her trip to Ohio Star Ball this November, neither of us intended to make a gown that might remind anyone of a ruffled flower.  But that is exactly what I see when Kim puts on this soft, beautiful gown. The skirt with its delicately ruffled edge calls to mind an upside down petunia, or maybe a peony.

Kim is a girly girl.  The kind who walks into my studio wearing a pink trench coat and carrying a gorgeous handbag with a huge 3D leather flower on the side.  When I ask her to take out a clip to put up her long, curly hair, it's shaped like a butterfly and has pink rhinestones on it. Those kinds of choices are always intentional and telling, and the sort of thing that really cannot be denied.  But it's entirely possible to be girly without being cute or cloying.

Kim wanted her new gown to be sexy and sensuous.  She hoped for a hint of rhinestone encrusted bra, but wanted the overall image to be classy and subtle. The soft, matte stretch mesh edges temper the rhinestone-encrusted bust area  As a dancer in the over 35 age category, she wanted some things covered, so no bare tummy or super low cut back were indicated.  But she wanted to show all the great looking skin available.   I am very fond of the ladder back detailing.

 Jewelry is important to call attention to beautiful arm styling and a pretty face, so this necklace, earrings and bracelets do just that.

Originally, Kim said "jewel tones" and we began the gown with a piece of sequin cloth in emerald and zircon tones, but the shiny fabric didn't feel right to her, so we switched to this lipstick fuchsia color and the results were great.  The color is super saturated, the sort of thing you see only in a garden at its peak of perfection and vibrancy and really looks wonderful and right on Kim, while supporting her inherent femininity.  It has enough depth to be taken seriously, and a maturity that you could not get from a hot bright pink.  If it's a jewel, it is perhaps the deep rose of pigeon blood ruby.

The layers in her softly draped skirt really move beautifully around her long legs.  I visited Minnesota Madness for just a few hours, and got just one, wonderful shot of the back of her gown in action, which I will share here.
   And If you want to see her beautiful face, I'll share a photo of her Phoenix Ballgown as well!
Best of luck to you Kim at Ohio Star Ball.  We'll look for you on PBS when they air "Championship Ballroom Dancing!"