What inspires you? On this late autumn day with its leaden-sky and damp air, I am reminded that anyone who is creative is affected by their surroundings and their mood. It can’t be helped – grey skies and murky puddles just bring us ‘down’, and unless you’re into post-apocalyptic artwork there’s not a lot to inspire. Sometimes, however, the urge of the season or calendar are too strong to deny and good things come.
Least year I decided to produce a collection of belly dance costumes under the heading ‘Calendar Girls’. It was good in a number of ways – it allowed my to ‘give in’ to obvious designs ideas (Halloween, Valentine’s Day etc.) and yet seriously challenged my creative process. How could I do ‘spring’ without bunnies, lambs and Easter eggs? (None of which are a great look on belly dance costumes) I never did get all 12 costumes done but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of it all. And some quite fun items emerged from it.
I was particularly pleased with ‘Kiss Me Quick’ a black and pink two-piece costume (bedlah) that featured some remnants of a fun print fabric (black with pink foil hearts on it). Adding girly bows and diamante buckles made it work.
Unusually, I put the detail of the costume on either side (most often they are on the front and back) and it seemed to work – though I know a few people who found this off-putting. But you just have to try new things sometimes.
Another very obvious design to emerge was ‘Autumn Glory’ – a brown velvet two-piece touched with gold over-printing and smothered in autumn leaves and wild blooms, and finished with flame coloured chiffon drapes. It was very striking and I loved making it. It was snapped up by a gorgeous dancer at a recent festival where I was selling. She tells me it brought a few ‘oohs’ when she stepped out onto the stage on its first outing. Of course, that might just have been her own good looks!
I have another umbrella theme in mind for a new collection: “Smoke and mirrors”, but the ideas for this so far are all a bit Armegeddon and Wasteland… so I should probably wait for the gloomy days of January and Feb before embarking on that mad idea!
Mostly, I get inspired by the fabrics I have in hand and it is their colour or feel that urges me to put them together and send a creation in a particularly direction. I’d love to be able to do a nice red and white Santa themed costume, or a nice ‘witchy’ two-piece, but tightly defined costumes are very limiting for the dancer to wear and thus not very saleable. So I limit myself to costumes with fairly broad appeal and whilst they all HAVE to have a name, and I can indulge myself there, sometimes it is only me that knows the design was inspired by a wet weekend in Wigan.