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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Style Secrets of Dancing With the Stars

 I had the pleasure of sitting in on a fabulous conversation with Dancing With the Stars costume designer, Steven Norman Lee.  The National Arts Club in New York City hosted an intimate event for its members and dance fans to discover the secrets behind the glitter and dance steps.

Steven was very sweet and humble.  It was clear there were more ballroom fans in the audience than fashion fans.  Some of the general rules in dressing the celebrities were obvious; couples could not be dressed in the same color themes as other couples the same week.  If there is a tango to be performed that night, you can bet red and black will be the palette.  The direction for the costumes is more contemporary than the traditional look you would find at the famous Blackpool ballroom dance competition.

The good stuff came from questions from the audience, namely who was the easiest or most difficult to dress over the years.  Being a gentleman, Steven did not have anything bad to say about the celebrities.  However, he did cite Marie Osmond as someone who was very particular, due to the fact that she had spent such a large part of her life in this type of costume and knew what worked on her.

Surprisingly, the least diva of the bunch are the professional male athletes.  Steven credits this to the fact that their naivete to the ballroom genre allows them to just trust the people who have more experience and not question their choices.

Being the technical designer in the crowd, I asked about the nitty gritty or specific tricks he uses to accommodate the dancing.   His top secrets:

-Men's shirts are often strapped or bound around their legs so they don't ride up in the performance
-There's nothing underneath those jackets...Collars and cuffs are faked.
-Sham Wow (yes, the late night infomercial stuff) is used as a secret costume fabric to absorb sweat.

What has been your favorite Dancing With the Stars look?

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