Friday, 24 February 2012

Inspired by the Golden Era. Part 1 - ideas and the bra

I am a big fan of the Golden Era of Egyptian dance, so when I found myself with a piece of music from that period to choreograph as a class exercise, and a chance to perform said choreography, it was the perfect excuse for a new costume.

This in turn gave me the excuse to watch numerous excerpts from various Golden Era films as 'research', and this one gave me the idea of using a veil for part of the performance, dancing without the veil, and then using it again.

There are some stunning costumes in the films of the period, some of which I would love to recreate sometime, but from the beginning I decided that my costume was to be 'inspired by' the period, not an exact copy.

I also wanted the costume to be in black and white, as this is a combination I always associate with Samia Gamal. It was only when I came across a rare clip of her in colour that it finally dawned on me that it was the films, and not necessarily the costumes, which were black and white!

To a certain extent the choreography dictated the costume design, as the bra needed to be a halter neck, so that the veil could be tucked into it. I also liked the idea of a drape linking the bra to the belt. The elements of a tradition two-piece costume can produce quite pronounced horizontal lines, and I really don't need anything to make me look any wider, so a vertical element was very welcome.

When I have made dance bras previously, I have always covered the cups with two pieces of fabric, joined together along the cup seamline, like this:

Dance bra with two-part covering on each cup

This was my first attempt at using a T-shirt bra and stretching a single piece of fabric over the bra cup. Because the velour I was using for both the bra and the skirt was very thin, I first covered each cup with an under layer of black or white jersey fabric to maintain the colour contrast. It was at this point that I discovered that if you are stretching two layers of fabric over bra cups, you do need a firm bra to support them; a cheaper one will just buckle.

The black cup was trimmed with diamante, and a length of sparkly knit fabric was sewn along the top of the white cup and caught down with small stitches to form the drape. Each side piece was covered in velour the same colour as the corresponding cup, while the halter strap was covered in the contrasting colour and trimmed.

Side view showing halter neck strap

Finally a diamante motif culled from a cheap choker was attached to the centre front.

The finished bra