Being a fashion designer in the dance world has always been one of my goals. It allows me to bring together my passion for dance and fashion to find stylish ways to mix current trends into the world of dance. In fact, that is what my company, Royal Couture, is founded on. The ideas I come up with come to life not only on the people that wear them but on stage as well, adding an extra element to both expressive arts. If what you wear says a lot about you, what you wear when you dance says even more! If there’s anything I’ve learned from combining these two arts, it’s that every costume and leotard is an important part of the story told by a routine.
While it is hard to choose just a few, I want to share some of my favorite pieces in my collection that I have had the honor to create for the stage. As a dancer and designer, each costume in my collection holds so many emotions and special meanings and has unforgettable stage memories attached to it. I hope they will inspire you to create something as well!
This one of a kind costume is extra special because this is the dress I wore on stage at the beautiful David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln center in New York City. The State Theatre is a NYC gem, and growing up, it was my dream to dance on this stage.
Featuring pink and gray tones, each of these nine costumes has intricate feather-like appliques and Swarovski crystals that are placed in a way that is unique to each piece. Almost like butterflies, each of the costumes has its own design and shape, finished off with a backpiece and sparkly hair clip. (These clips doubled as good luck charms!)
As much of a dream come true as it was to get to dance in a costume I created at the Stage Theater, this story is even more special because I co-choreographed the performance with my mom! Working with her is beyond inspirational. Whether we are working on a dance or a design (or even life issues), I think we come up with some of our best ideas when we are together. On its own, this costume is beautiful but paired with the choreography it was created for and that moment on stage (and our 50-foot pink British military parachute), “Existence” captures that creative process of bringing emotions and imagery to life. It will always be one of our favorite moments.
“Don’t Let Me Down”
My inspiration for this costume was J Lo’s iconic green Versace silk chiffon dress look at the 42nd Grammy Awards. Turning this into a wearable stage look that is also moveable for dancers was a fun design challenge! I took the neckline and altered it to be flat across instead of a V-cut but kept the applique detailing going downward in a diagonal V-shape on each side. This dress was designed for a routine choreographed by Dusty Button for a Showstopper dance competition.
When I started to design this costume for my duo titled “La Mer,” my goal was definitely what I call “elegant couture mermaid vibes.” I started with the leotard, a long-sleeved number with metallic detailing and a mesh front. Once the bodice was finished, the gathered ombre skirt was added, bringing the whole costume together just as I envisioned it when I dreamt up the aquamarine ensemble in my head. I finished this look with an iridescent highlight and a mermaid crown designed to look like a piece of coral that had just been discovered on the sand, still sparkling with water droplets. I choreographed the piece to a song that featured entrancing siren sounds and waves crashing in an almost aquatic lullaby. The costumes, movements, and music brought a dreamy seascape to the stage.
“Notebook of the Traveled thoughts”
When I create a design for a performance, I love to throw myself into every aspect of the process I can possibly be part of, from designing the costume to creating the steps and cutting and building the music.
The process for this piece all began with a piece of fabric saw in Los Angeles. I had an idea right away. It doesn’t always happen magically like that, but this time was special! After weeks of rehearsals, workshopping ideas with a prop, costume fittings, and the trial and error process of cutting together music, “Notebook of the Travelled Thoughts” started to come together. This contemporary piece is about a group of girls on a voyage at sea. Their story is told through a series of journal entries that are spoken word poems layered over a beautiful, building piece of music. For this piece, it was important to keep the looks simple. I chose four different colors of elegant silk with nude elastics to give it a strapless look and a sleek open-back design. In this case, simplicity in the design allows the music and movement to bring forth even more emotion.
“Until the Last Petal Falls”
This piece is my dream costume. In just about every dream I’ve had where I can see myself dancing on stage, I am absolutely in this costume. This one of a kind dress has countless Aurora Borealis rhinestones in a wide range of sizes scattered across its one-shouldered bodice and skirt in a nonlinear pattern. Creating this dreamy costume was a group effort. Every member of my family contributed to adding rhinestones to complete this dress. Dancing in this dress, time just stops. It feels like the music will keep playing forever and the Marley floor becomes endless. That feeling and the number of people whose hands and creativity helped make this dress possible makes it even more special.
From sketching to patterning to production, I enjoy every step of the creation process. Once a costume gets to the stage, it comes to life and is taken to a whole new level with elements like lighting, music, storylines, props, and raw emotion from the dancers and their movements. It is always shocking to look back after a performance at the role my creations play in bringing that moment on stage to life!