I’ve been a big fan of belly dance, particularly tribal-style since I was young – it’s inspired a lot of my costume creations including a few full belly dance costumes for myself, so I was really excited to be asked to create a bespoke costume for the dancer Lyza of Chthonia Bellydance.
I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to document the whole process from idea to creation here on my blog, sharing my process and hopefully some helpful hints and tips for making your own costumes. I’m hoping this will be a weekly thing as I work on the costume – this week I’ll start with the planning and design.
It’s really important that the costume you are creating is what the customer wants. Having a meeting with them is usually the best way to find out what they’re hoping to get out of it – whether they have any design preferences, a style of dance which the costume needs to work with, and most importantly, their personality and character as a dancer so the final design is something that represents and is unique to them - this is a custom costume after all.
One of the first things I did when designing the costume was to come up with a few initial drafts based on my chats with Lyza and from my impressions of her style. Her main criteria was to have something with an earthy look including reds, browns, and golds so my initial designs were largely based around these colours.
Its always a good idea to make sure that there is a good variety in your designs. Forcing yourself to think outside of that one image you have in your head will open up possibilities that you may not have thought about. you might even find that the client ends up liking this different direction too. There is also no harm in mixing and matching elements from each design so the more variety you have in the designs, the more options you and the client will have to decide from.
This design had a very flamenco styling to it – drawing from the frilly saloon girl designs used a few years ago by the Belly Dance Superstars tribal group. Layering harem pants over skirts gives a full look and an immense amount of movement during dancing.
By far my favourite design of the three. This uses the halter neck straps that are similar to other tribal fusion costumes and includes Kuchi Brasstone coins as opposed to the tarnished silver ones which seem to more widely available. I find these give a lovely rich feeling to the costume and are a great way to fulfill the need for gold.
I love the loose ruffled lacy fabric over the shoulder straps on this one, when you are creating a decorated bra, you don’t want it too look like a boring bra that came from a high street store, this is a great way to do that.
The hanging layered yarn threads and hip scarves create a more cutesy design than I was hoping for this costume.
The next step of the process is to work with Lyza on a final design that she is happy with. I’ll cove more about that in next weeks blog.
If you have any questions or comments on week 1 I’d love to hear them.