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PureDWTS Exclusive! An Interview with Randall Christensen, Part I

A few months back, we asked you guys to submit questions for Randall Christensen, the costume designer for DWTS from seasons 2-12.  Well now that the holidays are over and we’re starting to get back into the swing of things, we’re sharing Randall’s responses :-)

We’ve been lucky to get a chance to chat with Randall, since he has kept very busy since moving on from DWTS! He’s currently working a couture swimwear line with MiracleSuit (check out Vogue’s post on the Macy’s MiracleSuit fashion show last summer!), is working on a sportswear/ready to wear collection, and is still designing dancesport costumes for Randall Designs, Inc., his costume design company for the past 30 years.  Let’s see what this dancewear icon has to say in response to some of your burning questions :-)

At what age did you start designing?

Randall Christensen: I started designing for my professional partner and students back in the early ‘80’s, learning the craft with “hands on” experience.  I am self-taught.

Who were your mentors?

RC: My first mentor (and still most influential) was Bob Mackie.  He was designing for Carol Burnett as well as Cher for their (respective) shows.  I was a pre-teen and tried to NEVER miss a single one of their shows, as I was mesmerized by their costumes!

Seems like things at DWTS run on a pretty hectic timetable. Can you descibe what a typical week was like for you at DWTS?

RC: A typical week at DWTS starts new on Monday/Tuesday with new designs for each couple.  If we are lucky enough to get the music by Monday (instead of typically Tuesday) I try to get the couples up to the wardrobe department to discuss concepts for the next week’s costumes.  I only get 15-20 (30 mins. tops) to listen to the music, research ideas, discuss, design and finalize.  Then the entire show is shopped Wednesday by 5pm and delivered back to the studio, where I go over every women’s design with our cutter/fitter (the mens’ costumes are done off site, by our dance tailor in downtown Los Angeles).  The costumes are cut/sewn/preliminarily fitted on Thursday, then I have celebrity fittings all day Friday. My assistant helps on Saturday with the professional women’s fittings, they’re altered and ready for the final fitting on Sunday, after the couples do their blocking for the camera.  Adjustments are made and then are trimmed, beaded, crystallized and trimmed out to completion.  Monday morning is time to review each costume before setting them in the individual dressing rooms.  We have dress rehearsal only a few hours before we go LIVE on the east coast.  During that time any last minute adjustments are made and redelivered to the couples’ dressing rooms, sometimes just minutes before they’re to go to the top of the stairs for their walk down – live!  We have to design/shop/fit/finish each and every costume in 3.5 to 4 days!!  Whew!

What types of fabrics are the best for ballroom costumes?

RC: Thank goodness for stretch fabrics, jerseys, lycras, etc.!  These help the costume to be quite comfortable as well as flexible.  We can then get a terrific fit with little to no wrinkles in the fabric.  Chiffon (both silk and polyester) are great for the ballgown skirts, due to the wonderful movement.  Charmeuse satin is a terrific vintage type fabric, reminiscent of some of Ginger Rogers’ gowns.

Are there limitations, or can you work with pretty much anything?

RC: I push the limits every chance I get!  How else can you continue to come up with fresh ideas?  That being said, some fabrics are VERY challenging!  I try not to use brocades, as they are just to stiff and unforgiving for costumes.  Not to mention the fact that they do not flow at all!  I love using natural trims, for an organic vibe, still mixing in crystal rhinestones of course.  We have to have a sparkle on almost everything.

What is the most extravagant costume you’ve ever designed for the show, and who wore it?

RC: I would say the most extravagant costume would have to be Toni Braxton’s Marie Antoinette-inspired Viennese Waltz gown (complete with powdered blonde wig and all).  To be as authentic as possible, we went to a costume house and purchased a “cage” to make the silhouette as close to the look of the era as possible.  It was almost all completely sewn by hand, on the dress form as there is no way to get that wide cage (for the hips) on the sewing machine to work on.  Quite labor intense, but what a gorgeous look!  And still, we did it in just under 4 days……I still break out in a sweat thinking about that one!

*photo courtesy ABC/Kelsey McNeal

If you could only pick one DWTS costume as your “all-time favorite”, which would it be and why?

RC: Besides Toni Braxton’s Marie Antoinette gown, I would have to say Joanna Krupa’s “Futuristic Paso Doble.”  We pushed the limits (again) of what we could do in just 4 days.  The silver silk lame with electric lights (all wired into the dress) was sensational, but a nightmare to get done in such a short time.  We had a lighting specialist up from San Diego for 3 days just wiring the darn thing.

*photo courtesy of ABC

Everyone has regrets. Have you ever looked back at a costume you’ve designed for the show and thought “What was I thinking???” If so, which one & why?

RC: Oh, I’m sure we ALL have regrets, but I have to say, we have a really good track record if you consider that from concept to completion is 4 days maximum.  The discipline the couple has to have to stick with the original design, in spite of choreographing after the design is done, a procedure which is completely backwards! That being said, each and every week I look at the costumes, making mental notes as to what we could have done better, or what I would have done differently.  The beauty is I get another chance 4 days later.

Who have been your favorite celebs and/or pros to design for, and why?

RC: I count myself quite lucky to have such a great rapport with the pro dancers, and we have such fun with (and trust in) each other.  Our design sessions are quite intense and rewarding. I have enjoyed the trust that almost all of the celebrities have shown to me.  I honestly think that they put their trust in me (and their pro partner) due mainly to the fact that they are in such a foreign and vulnerable area.  They have not danced like this before, and really have to rely on our experience and expertise.  The trust that Susan Lucci, Jennifer Gray, Florence Henderson, Chelsea Kane and Kirstie Alley (to name a few) showed me was quite humbling and really rewarding!  This definitely impacts how wonderful their costumes showed on them.

Do you have an all-time favorite? 

RC:  I would have to say that as far as professional dancers, Edyta Sliwinska made ME look good!  I wish I could take credit for her beauty, but she came that way!!  That being said, I have to admit that Edyta was remarkably prepared each week, knew what looked good on her, and above all else, she left me to interpret her ideas and trusted me completely.  What a dream lady to work with!  Toni Braxton and Brandy both were appreciative, trusting and so lovely to design for.

What happens to the costumes after they’ve been worn?

RC: The celebrities have the option of purchasing any of their costumes, once the season is over.  Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson purchased all of their costumes, along with several celebs. buying their favorite one(s).  We keep a great majority of the costumes from past seasons in a storage facility quite close to the studio.  We also keep a few on hand right in the workroom, in case we need a last minute “fix.”  We have NEVER had to use one of those yet!

We’ve noticed some get reused and others don’t. How do you decide which ones get reused?

RC: We reuse costumes based on the producers’ requirements/suggestions, as well as our guest choreographers’ ideas.  Many times (most of the time) we re-work them so that their silhouettes more readily coordinate with each of the other dancers’ looks, for a more cohesive themed look. There is just not enough hours in the week to make ALL the costumes seen on Monday’s and Tuesday’s shows.  That said, we ALWAYS make something new for our couples for Monday’s show.  The pro numbers and (pro) group numbers may get previously worn costumes, but NEVER on celebs nor their partners for Monday’s competition!

*photo courtesy ABC/Adam Larkey

Do certain pros want specific kinds of alterations (i.e. shorter hems, lower necklines, mesh inserts, etc) on costumes that have been worn before by someone else?

RC: Again, it’s all about the overall theme/silhouette desired.  Our pro dancers do have their specific preferences, and if we could accommodate them, we most certainly would.  Some of those preferences are just going to be kept secret – no use spoiling the illusion……

Tune in later this week when we reveal part II of our exclusive interview…and Randall talks theme nights, panic attacks, and his love of princess seams (?) ;-) You won’t want to miss it!!!

January 9, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS13 Costume Designers Steven Lee and Daniela Gschwendtner Give Tips From The Set

Several of you have asked recently and in the past who the new costume designers are for Dancing With The Stars this season. The two new costume designers have been a part of Randall Christensen’s team in the past, but, this Season, they were hired to take his place. Their names are Steven Lee and Daniela Gschwendtner. You saw them in a new fun segment with Carson Kressley on the show last night which you can watch here if you missed it or would like to rewatch it again. You can also see them giving some “tips from the set” in a new video made by ABC below.

I think these two have done an outstanding job this season. What do you think? It was refreshing to see some brand new designs and not so many repeats as we’ve seen in previous seasons.

November 16, 2011 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud.

DWTS Who Wore it Better? Part XIV – The Pre-Season 13 Edition!

While you guys got to ooh, ahh, and discuss the official season 13 promo photos, I was busy trying to compile everything for WWIB – so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit cranky in these critiques. :-) In reality, I actually started compiling pictures for this last week, after the first celebs tweeted pix of themselves at their respective shoots, but it still left a lot to do once they FINALLY released the pix today (3 days late, I might add…ahem, ABC, you listening? ;-)).  Anywho! As I was telling Heidi, there were definitely a few…odd things about this season’s promo photos.  So let’s get right to it, shall we?

Battle of the midnight blue, sparkly one-shoulder rumba dress: Anna’s pre-season 13 photo shoot with Carson vs. Anna’s rumba with Evan in season 10

Courtney: I was joking on Twitter that I bet Carson was the reason the promo photos were released later than usual – he must’ve been picky about he & Anna’s costumes ;-) From the look on Carson’s face, maybe he didn’t get his way – he looks pouty.  Then again, maybe it’s just extraordinarily awkward for him to be touching Anna “that way”…look at how awkwardly his hands are placed.  I worry that these 2 could struggle with really romantic dances like the rumba, if that’s what’s really going here.  Then again, Carson could take to the drama of the dances like a fish to water…but anyway! Love Anna, love this dress & the color of it, but I have to go with rumba Anna for this one, for reasons of hair alone – WTF were they trying to do with it in the photoshoot? Seems like they were torn between some Snooki-like bump in the back and loose waves in the front.  Ooh wee.  And can I just say, this dress is far too similar to the rumba dress she wore with Kurt in season 11 – when you’re dealing with various lighting conditions in photos, it’s hard to tell the 2 apart!

Heidi: Yep, I have to go with Rumba Anna too – and it was also about the hair for me too. :-)  I think we’re, like, mind-melding or something.  Poor Carson. His lack of experience with women may end up costing him.  I believe he did say that himself, did he not?

The winner: Rumba Anna!! It’s all in the hair.

Battle of the flowy, white, jeweled ballgown: Elisabetta’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with Val vs. Chelsea’s foxtrot with Mark in season 12

Heidi: Do NOT understand the need to chop off the length on these gorgeous ballroom dresses. WHY?? This dress on Chelsea was so gorgeous, long and flowy – and it loses all it’s impact once it’s chopped off.  Gotta go with Chelsea for style….not to mention that I don’t find Val attractive so that kinda hurts Elisabetta’s chances with me. :-)

Courtney: I may have “hated” on Chelsea & Mark all last season (according to some readers…) but I have to say – this was my favorite dress Chelsea wore.  Thought it was simple, elegant, and age-appropriate.  And while I think Elisabetta looks STUNNING in it, I have to go with Chelsea here – the overall styling & very old Hollywood feel they gave her seems to suit the dress better. One funny note: did they catch Val trying to sniff Elisabetta’s hair? Because his face is half-covered by it, and he looks…guilty. ;-)

The winner:  Chelsea by a length.

Battle of the cranberry silk embroidered ballgown: Hope’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with Maks vs. Jennifer’s tango with Derek in season 11

Courtney: Can’t remember who it was that called this the “red velvet cake” dress, but you’re totally on the money…and making me crave baked goods.  :-P Or maybe cranberry juice.  Anywho! We don’t see too many cranberry-hued costumes on the show – maybe because it feels like a very formal shade? Idk.  I love the embroidery on the sleeves & waist, and I always love open-backed dresses, but I have to say I think a bit of the magic of the original was lost when they shortened the dress – by shortening it, I think they were trying to make it feel more “Latin” than ballroom, but the color & styling of the bodice still scream “ballroom!” to me…so for that reason, I’m gonna go with Jennifer.  I prefer the dress long, and the pulled-back hair & matching lipstick complete the look.

Heidi: Again, the chopping up of a perfectly beautiful dress. Gotta go with Courtney and choose Jennifer.  Frankly, the dress just doesn’t look right shorter and Court pretty much summed up why. I do like Maks’ matching shirt though – that’s a nice touch.

Courtney: I think I figured out why exactly I don’t love the shortened version: it looks too much like a figure skating costume.  Slap some skates on Hope and she’s ready for Skating with the Stars. Why couldn’t they have put her in a different cranberry-colored Latin costume? Like maybe Audrina’s Argentine tango costume?

The winner: Red velvet cake is always a winner…but we prefer our pieces with some length to them.

Battle of the silver-fringed, jeweled Latin dress: Karina’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with JR vs. Chelsie’s pre-season 12 photoshoot vs. Chelsie’s cha-cha with Jake in season 10

Heidi: I love Karina’s bangs!  She looks very pretty.  But I think I’ll go with the middle Chelsie…I deduct points for the long black gloves as an accessory choice with this dress. I do not like the above-the-elbow gloves with the short latin dresses. Just don’t get that fashion choice at all. So, while middle Chelsie wins for me, Karina takes second and right Chelsie gets third place. :-)

Courtney: This was one of the many oddities I noticed with this season’s photo shoot pictures – why did Karina decide to reuse a dress that had already been worn for a promo pic? Let alone one that was just used LAST SEASON.  It may not seem like a big deal, but to my knowledge, no costume has ever gotten used in a promo shoot more than once, and since the promo photos are often the ones that linger the longest of any of the photos taken during a particular season, you’d think they’d try harder to make them more…unique.  It’s not like they don’t have a ton of costumes to choose from :-) But I digress once more.  Gotta stick with Chelsie on this one, because this doesn’t look like something Karina would design for herself – all the more reason I am befuddled as to why it was picked for her.

The winner: Chelsie still owns the battle of the silver fringe.

Battle of the cranberry corset-top, tulle-overlayed dress: Lacey’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with Chaz vs. Lacey in the “Toxic” showdown with Val in season 11

Heidi: Gotta say, I think this one is a draw for me. I think it’s a rather silly dress to begin with, and while I like the red streaks in Lacey’s hair on the right, I despise those little chopped up gloves that she’s wearing. So….a tie. :-)  I will say though, that that lighting on the left-hand picture compliments the dress more – you can see all the detail work on it much better.

Courtney: Tee hee…my screen-capping skillz make me giggle sometimes ;-) If you’re wondering exactly what Lacey is doing in the photo on the right – I think she’s attempting to make some sort of come-hither gesture to Val and is failing.  :-P I can’t say I’m wild about this dress, but it does look very “Lacey-ish”.  I guess I prefer it in the “Toxic” number – the streaks in the hair & the edgy makeup seem to suit it better than the more plain makeup & hair they gave her in the pre-season photoshoot. Another observation: I know some people are saying “Oh, Chaz must not be that short after all – Lacey’s standing next to him wearing heels.” Well, he may actually be a bit taller than her, but I think they’re already employing a few tricks to help as well – Lacey’s standing further back than he is, which could alter the perspective; and it looks like Chaz’s hair is gelled straight up, and he may have a bit of a heel on his shoes.  Now let’s see if they have tricks to minimize the height difference between Peta & Ron, too…

The winner: Lacey…and no one else. :-P

Battle of the pearl-encrusted, cut-out tango dress: Kym’s Argentine tango with Hines in season 12 vs. Kym’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with David

Courtney: My favorite dress of season 12, PERIOD.  Love the racy cut-out sides, love the nude color, and ADORE the fact that Kym eschewed the cliched rhinestone coating and had it encrusted with pearls instead.  Love the dress in both pix, but I gotta go with photoshoot Kym – the loose, romantic waves they put in her hair seem to really sexify the dress.

Heidi: Ditto – I also like her partner on the right (cute!) and just her posture is better and works with the dress better.  Totally agree about the hair.  Doesn’t Kym choose this color for her photoshoots a lot?? It’s a color that really works on her.

The winner: Photoshoot Kym proves that pearls can be sexy. 

Battle of the black mesh, fringed & jeweled dress: Ricki’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with Derek vs. Marissa’s 2nd rumba with Tony in season 6

Heidi: Mmmmm….Derek. :-)  I’ve got to send his trainer cookies or something for the work he’s done on Derek. He looks…bigger. Or in the words of his trainer…”jacked up”. All growed up. Oh. Dresses. Well, since I don’t like Marissa’s stockings, and I don’t like her hair…and, well, I don’t much like HER, I have to go with Ricki for better hair and a hunkier than ever partner. :-)

Courtney: Love that they’ve got 2 former Tracy Turnblad portrayers in the same dress :-) Seems like kind of a cool homage.  I don’t exactly love this dress, so it makes it hard for me to pick a winner.  Seems to look better with Ricki’s coloring, but that could just be a spray tan and some photoshoot lighting giving her a nice glow.  But wait – is Derek wearing a black shirt with brown pants? WTF???

Heidi: Derek’s wearing pants??  Oh…yes, it appears they are a different color. ;-) Seems to be an odd choice for him. Very out of the ordinary. Wonder why?

The winner: In the tale of two Tracy Turnblads, Ricki emerges victorious :-)

Battle of the brown fringed & jeweled Latin dress: Nancy’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with Tristan vs. Kirstie’s 1st samba with Maks in season 12

Courtney: Nancy actually looks quite nice in this dress, methinks.  Perhaps even better than Kirstie.  She’s certainly got her tatas ready for battle! Gotta say – Nancy is pleasantly surprising me so far.  She seems like she’s actually excited to be doing this, and has set aside her courtroom aggression for the meantime.  And Tristan, good on ya – you look happy :-D

Heidi: Ah, we finally disagree on one. I have to go with Kirstie. I think she works this dress better just by nature of her hairstyle which is long and flowing rather than…helmut-y.  Yes, I am making up words as we go.

The winner: It serves both Nancy & Kirstie pretty well…so what can brown do for YOU? ;-)

Battle of the silver silk jeweled ballgown: Pam’s foxtrot with Damian in season 10 vs. Chynna’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with Tony

Heidi: Chynna isn’t wearing this dress, the dress is wearing her.  Pam embodies what that dress was designed for – she owns it.  Even the elbow length gloves work with this dress and her hair…and her makeup.  Just gorgeous! And am I mis-remembering or is this another dress that was nearly full length and they’ve chopped it again??  Step AWAY from the scissors!

Courtney: Chynna has aged incredibly well, but the overall effect of this silver gown on her seems…bland.  She’s very pretty, yes, but there’s nothing about the picture that really jumps out at me – and I’m afraid that may be the theme for me with regards to Chynna & Tony this season :-( Whenever I’m rattling off the names of the couples, they always seem to be the ones I forget, maybe because there’s been relatively little media coverage of them.  Idk – maybe they’re deliberately flying under the radar so they can surprise everyone in week one.  Time will tell! But Pam, my little blonde bombshell of season 10 – she’s a total Marilyn in this one, down to the sex kitten hair, elbow-length gloves, and red lips.  *sigh* I miss Pam & Damian…

The winner: You don’t mess with Pam Anderson.

Battle of the black, lacey, fringey dress: Cheryl in the season 12 finale opening dance with Chris vs. Cheryl’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with Rob

Courtney: This must be one of those generic dresses they always seem to have on-hand in order to fit a particular color scheme, because nothing about it was really triggering a “Eureka!” moment for me until someone mentioned that it could be Karina’s dress from the season 11 finale – of course it wasn’t, but it at least got me thinking along the lines of finale performances and that’s where I finally found this one.  It’s pretty, but unremarkable for me – Cheryl herself doesn’t even seem to be uber-excited to be wearing it in either picture.  I guess I’ll go with photoshoot Cheryl, because she’s at least smiling…although Rob still looks like kind of a putz to me.

Heidi: Blah. Boring. Both times. :-(  I think Rob IS a putz. It’s actually painful to have him in my DWTS List on twitter.

The winner: Zzzzz….oh, we were supposed to pick a winner? I guess photoshoot Cheryl…now let me sleep…zzzzzz

Battle of the gold lame/gold sequin romper: Kristin’s pre-season 13 photoshoot with Mark vs. Julianne’s freestyle with Helio in season 5 vs. Karina’s pro dance to Selena Gomez with Derek in season 9

Courtney: WARNING: this is NOT the same costume.  Well, Kristin’s is not – I’m convinced they bought that nonsense on the clearance rack at Wet Seal…or bought it at a costume auction after Take Me Home Tonight wrapped (BTW, good movie for a few laughs – well worth the $1.08 the bf & I paid for it at the Redbox ;-)).  In other words – I hate that gold thing and I have no idea why they decided to put such a pretty girl in such a tacky costume when they clearly have a bajillion suitable leftover costumes at their disposal.  *stamps foot* Seriously…whyyyy? Even the the very similar gold sequin romper that Julianne & Karina both wore would be an improvement over this…thing. And don’t even get me started on Mark’s shoes…although, if they were going for the 80’s theme with their photoshoot, he does look vaguely like Duckie from Pretty In Pink…except Duckie is wicked awesome and Mark is just kinda bogus, dude. </80’sslang>

Heidi: Pretty sure they give the dancers a selection to choose from. Just sayin’.  This is one gawdawful dress that made me think trailer park Saturday night when I first saw it. Maybe that’s harsh…but didn’t gold lame dresses go out in the 90’s. Or the 70’s?  Or both?? I mean, really, at least that gawdawful romper (and you all know how I feel about that cut around the legs) IS a romper.  Kristen’s is a dress that is cut up to THERE.  Seriously? You’re going there on day 1? Also, you do realize that Mark got those damn shoes bedazzled don’t you? Because we couldn’t see them well enough as it is – because it is much more important that we see Mark’s feet than his partner’s.  Or…the dude is just tacky.  Are we picking a winner here? I go with Karina because she’s suffocating Derek with her hair. :-)  Helio is cool too though.

The winner: Helio & Karina. And perhaps Jon Cryer.

And a special note on Peta’s dress…

We tried, kids, we really tried…but we (and the many PureDWTS readers I solicited both here and on Twitter) were clueless about this feathered thing Peta is wearing.  I (Court) swear I’ve seen her wear it somewhere OUTSIDE the dance floor (either in the audience of DWTS or another premiere or something), but for the life of me, I cannot recall specifics.  I even asked Peta on Twitter – no response. If you have seen this dress before and can tell us where exactly, we’ll update this post and give you credit :-) But until then, here is some commentary from Heidi & I…

Heidi: What in the hell was Peta thinking?  From the psuedo dress to the pose it’s just all the way wrong.  I think it might actually be the pose that really caps it off.  It kinda looks like Ron is carrying his child in her swimsuit on his hip.  Or you could go slightly porno if you want, but I’m trying not to think about that.  This is actually a horrendous picture for me – such a gorgeous woman but how did she get to this pose in this outfit??

Courtney: I’m sorry, but this seriously seems like the worst of this batch of promo photos to me.  The pose is just totally weird – can you believe that Peta’s leg is actually hidden behind Ron’s back? Believe it – Peta confirmed it.  And this dress just feels odd to me – like they just took a tank top and slapped some feathers on the bottom.  And speaking of bottoms…I hate that Peta’s is just kinda hanging out in this pic.  Add to that the strange pouffy hair, and I’m just left thinking, “WTF???”

September 7, 2011 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS Who Wore it Better? Part XIII – The Chelsie Appreciation Edition

Well she may not be on the show this season, but “out of sight” is certainly not “out of mind” for us here at PureDWTS! What better time to show Chelsie she’s loved than now? :-)

I must confess, due to my own pessimistic tendencies, this was originally supposed to be the Anna Apprecation Edition, because I was so certain she wouldn’t be back this season.  But thankfully, she is, and now I have inspiration to create subsequent editions of WWIB featuring all of the female pros – eventually. ;-) Finding costume dittos is hard sometimes, even for someone with a freakishly near-photographic memory like mine…

Battle of the peach jeweled ballgown: Brooke’s Viennese waltz with Derek in season 7 vs. Chelsie’s pro dance with Dmitry to Jewel in season 8

Heidi: I think the look worked on Brooke simply so that the dress didn’t detract from the emotion of the dance, which was a Viennese Waltz to Daughters, by John Mayer.  It’s kind of plain on her, otherwise. I prefer it on Chelsie, and I like her softer hairstyle with this dress. Of course, it could just be the lighting. :-)

Courtney: I noticed several patterns with Chelsie’s costume choices while compiling this post.  The first is that she has an affinity for doing very lifty, contemporary choreo while wearing shortened ballgowns.  You can’t see in this picture, but this dress has actually been shortened substantially – check it out on the Randall website. May not be of any consequence to you guys, but I do find it kind of interesting how the costume department, when pressed for time & unable to create new costumes, just takes what they have on hand & changes it to work for them – very resourceful.  Anywho! I always thought the dress was very pretty on Brooke, but I’m not sure it’s a color she would pick for herself – seems too demure, and better suited to someone more wholesome and youthful, like Chelsie. And I’m not wild about Brooke’s hair – looks too…plastered down? Idk.

The winner: Chelsie, for better coloring…or maybe lighting.

Battle of the black, fringed, jewel-trimmed Latin dress: Chelsie in the season 11 finale opening dance vs. Anna’s opening credits shoot with Sugar Ray in season 12

Courtney: Another pattern I noticed with Chelsie: she is so freaking hard to get a decent screen cap of!!!!! Seriously – she never stops moving, and her technique is so good that she moves with such a range of motion that she’s seldom in a position where she’s facing the camera, in a neutral position.  I got so many bad screenshots of her moving her body in crazy ways that made it impossible to see her costume well.  She also seems fond of black-fringed costumes – this one is pretty similar to the one she wore for her cha-cha with Romeo, and she wore gloves for both.  In truth – I’m not wild about this version of the black-fringed costume.  Since there’s very little sparkle, it just seems to look a little blah on both ladies for me.  At least with the Romeo version, there was quite a bit of sparkle to give the costume some depth.  I prefer colored versions of this particular style, such as the hot pink & multicolored versions featured in WWIB Part XI.

Heidi: I don’t care for the long black gloves with the short, fringed latin dresses – I don’t get that wardrobe choice at all. Other than that, there isn’t much to say about it really – it’s hard to see but I really prefer the dress on Anna – and again, it could just be the background and the lighting influencing me. I’m so easy. :-)

The winner: Anna by a hair…with an assist from the background & lighting :-)

Battle of the sheer, white, feather-trimmed ballgown: Cheryl’s Viennese waltz with Chad in season 10 vs. Chelsie’s dance with Mark in the “America’s Favorite Dancers” show

Heidi: They all have their “tics” don’t they?? :-) Mark’s is high water pants and polka dots, Cheryl’s is the sheer ballgown skirt.  I much prefer Cheryl’s tic in this case, although I do find it a rather strange choice. As for who wore it better?? Well, I think Chelsie is wearing it like it’s a dress made for CHERYL, if that makes sense. It doesn’t really seem like it belongs on her, and I also prefer Cheryl’s hairstyle, as it is fancy, fancy, fancy…just like the dress.

Courtney: Ahhh yes – another representative of Cheryl’s ongoing infatuation with sheer-skirted ballgowns :-) This one is odd for me: I think the bodice is gorgeous, with all of the beading & delicate details, but the skirt…looks totally silly to me. Like they let a class of preschoolers decorate it with a bunch of feathers & pom-poms.  All that’s missing is the uncooked macaroni and you’ve got yourself a craft project! I don’t know…they both look good from the waist up, and bizarre from the waist down.  I’m apathetic.

The winner: Cheryl loves her some sheer skirts…and rocks them well.

Battle of the red, jeweled midriff Latin costume: Chelsie in the pro dance with the Mwano family in season 11 vs. Edyta’s salsa relay with Ashley in season 9

Courtney: Chelsie costuming pattern #3: she will never show her stomach completely.  Seriously…find me an example of her midriff being completely exposed and I will gladly admit I’m wrong.  She’ll wear cut-out dresses, or ones that show a teeny-tiny bit of belly, but then you’ve got 2-piece costumes like this where they slap a piece of mesh down the front.  This costume definitely had to go through some un-Edytafication before Chelsie would wear it…the mesh, the extra layer of fabric on the skirt to cover the sides, the increased chest coverage.  Normally I would give this one to Edyta, no contest, but the open sides of the skirt look weird to me.  Gotta go with Chelsie this time.

Heidi: Edyta, by a mile.  It was originally designed for her and by adding back material it just makes an already unfortunate dress worse. :-)  When you add the mesh on the front it make the whole dress look heavy, what with the double patterned belts around the hips and under the bra line.  I think Edyta is just playing the part here better than Chelsie is – and damn that woman has a body.  :-)

The winner: Edyta, for playing the part.

Battle of the lavender, jewel-trimmed, one-shoulder ballgown: Kym’s Viennese waltz with Donny in season 9 vs. Chelsie’s Viennese waltz with Jake in the season 10 finale

Heidi: I think Chelsie is a bit too short for this dress – maybe if it was straight to the floor instead of layered it would work better for me. Both women look very pretty, but I’m gonna have to go with Kym, I believe.

Courtney: This is another thing I hate about screen-capping – it always makes colors look too warm.  The dress is closer to the color on the left than the color on the right – but it’s a pretty color, regardless.  I think it’s a good example of the “less is more” concept of costuming – very simple silhouette, flattering color, minimal trim.  Lovely :-) Looks great on both ladies, but I have to give this one to Kym – love her romantic wavy hair.  Looks like Chelsie may have been the victim of the dreaded quick-change, which usually necessitates un-fussy, generically-styled hair to fit multiple costumes.

The winner: She of the Awesome Boobage dominates once again.

Battle of the gold, fringed, halter-top Latin dress: Chelsie in the season 8 intros vs. Ashly in the 150th episode pro dance to “Hard to Handle” in season 6

Heidi: Hmmm….tough call. Both ladies wear this dress well. It compliments both Chelsie’s sunny, California girl look, and Ashly’s darker hair and complexion.  This one is a tough call!!  I think I’m leaning toward Chelsie, but I have to idea why. :-)

Courtney: Maybe because we have a hard time believing a wholesome Mormon mommy like Ashly would pick out an outfit like this for herself? ;-) I dunno, at least that’s what I think – both ladies are on the wholesome side, but Chelsie is able to pull off sexier, flashier outfits a bit better, IMO.  The impression I get from Ashly in this dress is that “I had to wear a gold dress to match the other dancers, so I bit the bullet and picked out the most conservative one I could.” Plus I love the way a gold outfit looks paired with blonde hair :-)

The winner: Chelsie, for looking more comfortable being sexy.

Battle of the pale blue, jeweled high-neck ballgown: Nicole’s waltz with Derek in season 10 vs. Chelsie’s pro dance with Dmitry to Goo Goo Dolls in season 11

Courtney: I had completely forgotten about this one – and now that I’m looking at it, I’m realizing that it is really a beautiful dress. Simple silhouette with delicate details.  Again, looks great on both ladies, but I’m gonna go with Nicole on this one – I think this dress is better balanced as a long dress, and the high neck looks a bit odd on Chelsie.

Heidi: I think the high collar on this dress rather begs for an upswept, formal hairstyle. It draws the eye to a nice neck and you don’t want your hair ruining the effect. So, I have to go with Nicole also. The bodice of the dress with the shorter length (and lack of shoes) on Chelsie just doesn’t look quite right.

The winner:  Nicole, by a length…of dress.

August 29, 2011 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS Who Wore it Better? Part XII – More from Season 12

So the addition of the troupe this past season did have one unexpected positive effect: even more costume dittos! Which makes my job a bit easier ;-) And I’m noticing the costume department has a special affinity for red – lots & lots of sparkly, red, fringy, feathery stuff… Read more..

August 5, 2011 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

Dancing With The Stars Randall Christensen Helps With Macy’s MiracleSuit’s Swimwear Fashion Show

Randall Christensen is busy this summer too. Like the rest of the Dancing With The Stars crew including those behind the scenes, I’m sure his work never ends. The Dancing With The Stars Costume designer set his sites on New York City this week to help Macy’s with their MiracleSuit swimwear fashion show. Below is a picture of Randall helping the models get ready for the show….and having a little fun dancing backstage as well. You can view more pics at Randall’s facebook page. See any gowns you like? I like the two in the FRONT! :D

June 30, 2011 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud.

DWTS12 – ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Finals Costume Recap With Randall Christensen

The costume designer for our show, Randall Christensen, goals for the Finals was “to execute the celebrities’ most personal visions for their make-it or break-it dances” and he succeeded in doing just that….uhhh, well, except for Chelsea and Mark’s freestyle. But, not sure that is Randall’s fault as much as it was Mark’s (in my opinion). More below for how Randall and the dancers came up with their costumes from Stylelist.

Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the inspiration for the couples’ quickstep look, which included a classic top hat, tuxedo and tails for the Pittsburgh Steelers pro. Johnson’s sublime gown featured white sheer mesh encrusted with 12,000 crystals and hand-dyed-and-cut guipure lace appliqué work. For a contemporary twist, its sheer skirt was fringed with horsehair braid.

For their freestyle performance, Ward lived out his marching band fantasy in custom-made drum major regalia. Christensen’s team used velcro and gussets at the armpits to give Ward tear-away sleeves to crank up his dance moves. Meanwhile, custom costumes for the musicians that joined the couple on stage were ordered from Texas in Steelers’ black and gold and arrived “in the nick of time.” Johnson’s majorette “boots” were actually spandex spats slipped over her Latin dance shoes for ease of movement. Her gold fringe minidress was a sexy take on the majorette/cheerleader look.

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: Since she first slipped on Christensen’s fringe party in the U.S.A. pants during Patriot’s Week, the actress has been a fan and requested the style for her samba. For more fun, Christensen added fringe under a row of thousands of hand-beaded crystals on top. “It was tons of work, but hey it’s the finale,” he says. “And I have to admit it. No one wears fringe pants better than Chelsea.”

For their “Tron”-themed freestyle, the couple deviated from classic ballroom style and requested costumes that didn’t exactly match. Kane wore a turquoise bra-top and Ballas a lime-bedazzled suit. “That surprised be a bit since Mark’s suit was such a bright color, but I obliged them because I want to empower each couple and they should have what they want for this very important routine.” The battery operated shoes and gloves were installed by singer Chris Brown’s lighting team and “it was a wiring nightmare with all the lifts and choreography.” While the drama was spectacular the special effects were a fashion challenge: Kane said after the broadcast that one of the battery packs slipped off after her first big move and was dangling during her performance.

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: The actress wore a minidress featuring Carnivale hues of bright orange, yellow and lime green accented with crystal infused fringe for her sexy, sassy samba.

For her freestyle to Pink’s “Perfect,” Christensen deliberately outfitted Alley in a monk-brown dress, which was torn off to reveal a formfitting black unitard that showed off the slimmed-down figure of the actress who has lost 60-plus pounds in the ballroom. The designer’s fashion message? “Hello world, here is the new Kirstie, hot and fabulous.”

“Kirstie has been transforming right before our eyes and what an eye-popping end to such a glorious journey. And that was all Kirstie with just a bodysuit and her magnificently toned body.”

So, who had your favorite and least favorite costumes this week? Kym and Hines were my favorite and I won’t go there again for what I thought of Mark and Chelsea’s. 8O

May 26, 2011 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud.

DWTS Gifting by Anne Koplik – Oh Yes…Someone Won Some Free Earrings!

How many of you knew that at Dancing with the Stars they had a gifting area where gifts were given out to the stars and pros on Dancing with the Stars? I know I didn’t and I’ve been back stage at the finale before. That was gift enough for me.

Turns out that Anne Koplik Designs has a gifting suite at the Dancing with the Stars finale where they’re giving the stars some of their jewlery. Here are some pictures from the gifting suite that were on the Anne Koplik Designs Facebook page.

Similar to the DWTS gifting, we’ve been running a contest to giveaway some Anne Koplik jewelry (as seen on DWTS) as well. I’m happy to say that the winner is….check your email (or DM on Twitter) to see if you won.

Who thinks we should hold another jewelry giveaway?

May 24, 2011 I Written By

Better known as Charlie.

DWTS Semi-Finals – Randall Christensen Talks about This Week’s Costumes Which Included A Silver-Crystal Encrusted Neck Brace

Would you believe Kym almost danced with a special neckbrace designed by Randall Christensen (the costume designer for Dancing With The Stars)? It’s true. Up until the last minutes of the show, Randall and his team were working on a silver-crystal encrusted neck brace which Kym almost wore during her dances with Hines. At the last minute, she decided she was strong enough to go on without it. He described last week as “an enormous challenge” with 12 costumes to get ready. See why below.

Kym Johnson and Hines Ward: Up until moments before they took the dance-floor for an emotional Argentine tango that received a perfect score, Christensen’s team was working on a silver-crystal encrusted neck brace for an injured Johnson. She was rushed to the hospital May 13 when football pro Ward’s full body weight came down on her neck as the couple attempted a difficult flip.

Johnson ultimately made the call that she felt strong enough to dance without the brace. Her formfitting tango dress with its cutout back and angled hemline was the most labor intensive costume of the night featuring mesh encrusted with “thousands upon thousands of pearls.” “Then we added the sparkle of 10,000 crystals wedged between the pearls,” says Christensen. “To make that costume in five days was a huge undertaking.”

Karina Smirnoff and Ralph Macchio: For their pimp-daddy inspired salsa, Christensen created a skintight bodysuit of leopard for Smirnoff, splitting it down the middle to reveal a red crystal-encrusted bra. “Who else could pull off such a sizzling catsuit but Karina Smirnoff,” says Christensen.

Padding obtained from Christensen’s “secret downtown [Los Angeles] source” was slipped into Macchio’s pants to give him a more prominent backside, an idea the actor and his partner came up with “for fun.” The catsuit was accented with thousands of hand-strung crystal strands and piles of hematite and topaz crystals.

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Christensen says Alley’s transformation (she says she’s lost more than 70 pounds dancing) “blows me away each and every week.” And this week, he showed off her toned upper body in a sleeveless, strapless frock. Her dark paso doble look featured a crystal-encrusted bustier with a tattered black and purple organza neckline. “The draped front was not traditional, but kept with the theme of the dance, which is Spanish gypsy,” he explains. Black leggings were added in keeping with the edgy mood.

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: The Disney star rose to the top of the leader board again, thanks to her sizzling rumba which she performed in a deep mauve and lavender, midriff-baring frock that had its own dramatic backstory. The costume was originally cotton-candy pink, but the dancers asked for a new, darker look after show producers informed them clearance issues had forced a last-minute music change. “Being the pros that they are and knowing the kind of week the workroom was having, they were cool with my idea of dyeing her original look. We just dipped the whole thing and said a few prayers.”

You can read more at Stylelist.

May 18, 2011 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud.

Dancing with the Stars Jewelry Giveaway – As Worn on DWTS

As if there wasn’t enough excitement here at Pure Dancing with the Stars with the Dancing with the Stars finale just around the corner, now we have another exciting giveaway. That’s right, we’re giving away more free DWTS jewelry to readers of Pure DWTS. Woot!

A big thanks goes out to Anne Koplik Designs for providing the jewelry for the giveaway. They provide much of the jewelry that you see on Dancing with the Stars. Like Anne Koplik Designs Facebook page to see all their Dancing with the Stars related jewelry including pictures of the stars and pros wearing their jewelry.

This giveaway is for the pair of earrings that Chelsea wore last night on Dancing with the Stars. You can find the earrings for sale on the Anne Koplik website. Check them out and see the other great Anne Koplik DWTS earrings.

How to enter to win:
There are 3 ways to enter and unfortunately this is restricted to US and Canada (see we listen) residents only. The only person who can’t win is me (or maybe I should say my wife). Be sure to enter every way to increase your chances of winning.
1. Leave a comment on this site about your favorite DWTS jewelry or how much you love Pure DWTS. Be sure to use a real email since that’s what we’ll use to notify the winner.
2. Send a tweet that includes @puredwts and @AKoplikDesigns. Something like the following will work:
I really want to win the Free @AKoplikDesigns earrings that were worn on DWTS. I love @puredwts giveaways.
3. Like Pure DWTS on Facebook and leave a comment with the tag #FreeDWTSEarrings

That’s all. 3 ways to enter to win some great earrings! We’ll run the competition for a week and then do the giveaway next week based on a random selection amongst all the entries.

May 17, 2011 I Written By

Better known as Charlie.