We watch “Dancing With the Stars” for new routines and possible missteps and for those creations of sequins, fluff, silk and spandex.
Roughly 700 new costumes are made each season, taking into account every costume change for backup dancers as well as the contestants, say Daniella Gschwendtner and Steven Norman Lee, the show’s designing team.
“We don’t get to prep much ahead, and it depends on their songs,” Gschwendtner tells Zap2it.
“We shop fresh every week because you never know what you are going to get,” Lee says.
They listen to the dancers’ plans. Then, as the pro and the celeb work on choreography, Gschwendtner, Lee and their staff sketch, shop and sew.
“A lot of it is considering their song,” Lee says. “If it is a fun, edgy song, then we can do that, or if it is a classic tribute to someone’s daughter, we follow the song and music, or if it is a gimmick, we go with that.”
“She knew she wanted an Alice in Wonderland flavor,” Gschwendtner says of Sharna Burgess, whose celebrity partner is Andy Dick. “The pants were tricky,” Lee says. “Lycra is usually too stretchy and too soft, so we lined the Lycra. The jacket is custom-made, and I added lace to edge it up. He looks better in structured jackets, and it helps with his form.”
For Burgess’ costume, “we wanted to make it feel period, but the dance didn’t allow for a long skirt,” Gschwendtner says. “And we started thinking about a Marie Antoinette number and have the hoop exposed and a deconstructed feel. She wanted to look like an offbeat queen with an avant-garde touch.”
Peta Murgatroyd definitely looks as if her poster could grace a World War II serviceman’s locker.
“They wanted him being a lifeguard, and she is the girl attacked by the sharks, and he rescues her,” Lee says of Murgatroyd and her celebrity partner, Sean Lower. “We come up with a cute, danceable bathing suit for her,” Gschwendtner says. “It is high-waisted. We looked at pinups. We meshed a couple of styles together. Always with the dancer, you want some movement with the fringe around the leg and (have it look) less like a bathing suit and more like a dance costume.”
Val Chmerkovskiy wanted a 1920s look for this number, Gschwendtner says. Celebrity partner Zendaya Coleman’s flapper dress is accented with the long fringe that sways beautifully during spins. It’s easy to work with, Gschwendtner says, because it’s just a matter of sewing rows of fringe onto the fabric. They picked the burnt orange because no other dancers that week had that color.
Kym Johnson and Ingo Rademacher’s costumes have the romance of a black-and-white film. “The quickstep is a ’50s-inspired look of the full skirt, and we wanted to make it a little sexy,” Gschwendtner says. “She likes flowers on her outfits, and the black and white is so stark, and it is so fashionable right now.”