In Barcelona, Spain, Manuel began working in a tailor's shop when he discovered his true calling ... dressing women. In the 1950s he moved to the United States where he was awarded the Fashion Oscar from Harvard University (1954). His first men's collection was presented in 1997 and he was chosen to dress Letizia Ortiz for her wedding to Prince Phillip of Spain ... Can you imagine designing this amazing wedding dress?
Ah, the glam fabrics ... you know; velvet, taffeta,satin, brocade, silk, and of course, tulle. These fabrics are very popular for costumes of all kinds; theatre, dance, ballet and historical reproductions. Each type of fabric has it's own ways, and needs to be handled carefully. For example, heavy fabrics like brocade and fabrics with nap like velvet require special care when pinning the layers together. Silk and taffeta require special pressing and laundry, and, just what can I say about tulle? This article discusses some useful tips for costumes made from these fabrics.
A friend of mine once gave me a great travelling tip; if I wanted to keep the centre crease in my trousers but didn't have an iron, I could simply place the trousers between the mattress and the box spring. While I slept, the trousers would become pressed and the centre crease would be restored. It sort of worked, except some wrinkles were pressed too. Too funny.
When I worked for a professional dance company, I learned that all the ballet and dance shoes worn by the performers are fitted by a professional dance shoe representative and purchased by the dance company. The shoes are the property of the company, rather than individual dancers. The dance company purchases dozens of pairs of shoes for each dancer; for rehearsals and performances for the entire dance season. The shoe crate for a touring dance company may bulge with hundreds of individually dyed and labelled shoes. In this blog, I'm going to discuss the most common styles of dance footwear that I encountered.
Ballet costumes have a tough job; they must look delicate and gorgeous, be highly flexible, durable and work for the dancer. I think dancers are athletes; they spend more energy in one minute of dance than I do in an entire day. The costumes must cling to their ever-stretching bodies; but not so much that the dancer cannot extent their graceful arms and legs. Indeed, this amazing feat of engineering by accomplished cutters and stitchers is beautifully hidden by silk, lace, beads, jewels and feathers.
Traditionally, textile fibres come from four major sources; animal (wool, silk), plant (cotton,flax,jute), mineral (glass fibre) and synthetic (nylon, polyester, acrylic). In the 20th century, new artificial fibres were made from petroleum. These new fibres can be mixed with the other fibres to create new fabrics.
The WOW factor for costumes is usually shared between the fabrics, trims and costume design. Shiny fabrics, trimmed with beads or lights dazzle the audience and costumers alike. It is so exciting to be introduced to new fabrics and technology; indeed, costumers are very attentive while the Head of Wardrobe discusses new fabrics, trims and costume effects.
I have put together a list of basic textiles - you are likely familiar with most of them but new fabrics and textures are being invented every day - eventually, they wind up being used in costumes.