LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

From Paper and Pencil to Costume

When Liam Scarlett — the young, acclaimed choreographer from London’s The Royal Ballet — brought our Costume Designer and Wardrobe Director Haydée Morales his costume design sketches for his new work Euphotic, she knew that she was up to the challenge!

Liam Scarlett's costume design sketch

The first step in bringing Scarlett’s vision to life was helping him determine the full color palette and types of fabrics that were aesthetically appealing, yet allowed the dancers to move freely.  Scarlett wanted the costume hues to include dark blue for the corps dancers, radiant yellow for the principals, and a combination of yellow and blue for the soloists to tie the piece together.  He also wanted the costumes to depict the ombré effect, which shows the consistent gradient of a color from its lightest shade to its darkest.

Fabric and color palette

Determining the color gradient

To determine the exact tones of the ombré, Costume Artist Maria Morales tested how various colors of dye displayed against the three types of fabric used in Scarlett’s piece.  For two weeks, Maria consistently performed dye work for all of the fabric used in the ballet’s costumes.  Using three pots full of different colors of dye and hot boiling water, she created beautiful ombrés for each woman’s skirt, man’s unitard, and a small detailed section on each woman’s bodice — dyeing a total of 62 pieces of fabric!

Maria dyeing fabric

While Maria was busy with dye work, the rest of the team worked on sewing the costumes.  The first step in the costume construction process was creating muslins, which are the inner piece of the bodice used for the first costume fitting, so that any necessary alterations will not affect the final fabric used on the exterior of the costume.  The seamstresses also built the mens unitards, which were sewn in two parts — the top half and the bottom half — and then dyed as separate parts to achieve a contrast of dark and light tones near the torso of the costume.

Mens unitards

Principal ladies bodice

After assembling the costumes, a second round of fittings and a dress rehearsal with the dancers rehearsing the ballet in full costume helped Haydeé determine if the costumes fit and moved properly.  A final round of fittings then took place to take care of the subtle details such as, adjusting shoulder straps or the length of the skirt.  Once Haydeé and her team completed these finishing components the costumes were ready for the stage!

See what the final costume looks like in motion during the world premiere of Euphotic during Program II: Tradition and Innovation