PureDWTS Exclusive! An Interview with Randall Christensen, Part II

Last week, we gave you part one of our exclusive interview with Randall Christensen, the costume designer for season 2-12 of DWTS.  Now read on for more insight from the man behind the costumes…as well as some exciting news! 😀

What are some of the shows that stood out for you the most when you costumed them, and why? (i.e. certain theme nights, specific seasons, finales, etc.)

Randall Christensen:  Movie/Broadway or TV night is always great fun.  We get to step out of character even more.  If you can dream it up, SOMEONE will wear it!  Themed nights are always fun.  Loved the Halloween show back several years ago.  Edyta as Morticia Addams (The Addams Family), Monique Coleman/Louis van Amstel in their “Ghostbusters” tear away coveralls, to “slime” green…..great fun!  Doing specific time periods are fun and challenging as well.  Doing a retro ‘50’s Paso Doble for Nicole Scherzinger was one of the most challenging, as the Paso Doble is so serious and passionate, yet the ‘50’s inspired song just didn’t go…..but Derek is a genius with choreography, and we came up with a fun yet strong look for them both.

If you could pick any of the pros, past or present, on the show to be your assistant, who would it be and why?

RC:  Hands down, Edyta Sliwinska would be a great co-designer.  She has such an eye for style!  Lacey Schwimmer has some really fun, “out there” and cutting edge ideas too.

What was the best part of your job on DWTS?

RC:  Hands down, the best part of my job was the trust of the producers, and being able to create with such freedom.  You just do NOT get that in the television industry, and that was the most rewarding thing I can imagine.  Weekly, the most rewarding part of my job was when Harold Wheeler and orchestra start playing the overture, there’s not a week that went by that I was ALWAYS there, with shivers running down my spine.  When those couples came down that stairway……truly a magical moment each and every week.  I never missed that descending down the stairs at the top of the show – NEVER!

What was the worst part of your job on DWTS?

RC:  Having to conceptualize the next week’s show after producing 2 LIVE shows, exhausted (physically and sometimes emotionally) and still having to design the show perfectly, with no room for error.  We shopped the entire show the following morning, and all of the details needed to be noted on designs, so that we could get everything needed.  That was a living nightmare each and every week.  Not a week went by that I didn’t feel a bit of a panic attack lurking in the back of my mind…..”Are we gonna make it this week???”

Was it ever hard to come up with “fresh” ideas season after season?

RC:  It’s always an insane challenge to maintain freshness, but I have to say, the collaboration with the dancers was a Godsend!  They have such fantastic ideas and imagination!  Coupling that with trust, and we have freshness!!

Did you ever get “designers block”?

RC:  I only got designer’s block on that first season, due to putting too much pressure on myself.  I learned early on to just go with the flow, pump the dancers for ideas, and if nothing still is coming, then get back with them later in the day.  I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to let the ideas rest, and they’ll magically appear later (sometimes in the middle of the night), but they do come.

Many of the celebs lose weight during their stint on DWTS. How did you keep up with their shrinking measurements and still have them look fabulous?

RC:  I LOVE taking in seams!  Almost without fail, each celeb is bound to lose weight.  Luckily, with stretch fabrics, we make the costumes a few inches smaller than their measurements, to begin with.  Yet we are constantly taking them in.  That’s not a big deal, and is quite encouraging (to the couples) that they’re toning up and slimming down.  It is just one of those things that come with the territory.

Kirstie looked just as great in her cha-cha dress in the finale as she did in week one! What’s your secret???

RC:  Well, if I told you that, it wouldn’t be my secret any more, would it?!  One thing that I CAN say is “Thank goodness for princess seams!”  And, sleek lines vs. fuller/voluminous lines will always keep you looking more trim.

Which pro has the best taste in costuming?

 RC:  Karina Smirnoff and Edyta Sliwinska really know what looks incredible on their bodies.  Derek Hough has great taste in his looks as well. 

Who are your favorite fashion designers in the business now?

RC:  I still am infatuated with the imagination of Bob Mackie, after all these years, seeing what Cher wore/wears, Anne Margaret – that man is a genius!  I also really enjoy Versace, Cavalli and Valentino.  Every designer has something to stimulate my imagination.  You’d be surprised where some of the inspiration comes from.  Sometimes from the most unlikely (and not favorite) designers/places, including nature!!!

What are your current & future plans in designing?

RC:  I have a line of couture swimwear coming out really soon, with MiracleSuit which I am SO thrilled about!  They have a great design team, with whom I have the greatest respect for and rapport with.  Soon, you’ll be seeing sportswear/ready-to-wear on television…..gonna have to wait and see where that is, but it’s going to be amazing!  And, available to every woman!  I’m really enjoying designing with my company (Randall Designs, Inc.) of 30 years, and am loving getting back into the competitive DanceSport world.  It’s great to contribute to my company without having to do the day to day operations, since I’ve so many other irons in the fire.

Will we have the pleasure of seeing your work on DWTS again sometime soon? 🙂

RC:  You never know…….I have so many things going right now that I just don’t know how that would be possible, but I have learned years ago to NEVER say never!  It’s a killer schedule and quite stressful, yet so very rewarding!  So, who knows…….?!

Well folks, there you have it – the inside scoop on how the costuming process works, from start to finish.  Curious to see what Randall’s up to? Be sure to check out his Facebook page.  Still want more behind-the-scenes info about costumes from seasons past? Well then I’ve got GREAT news for you – starting this Saturday, Randall is going to have a regular guest feature here at PureDWTS!!! We’re extremely excited to announce that he has agreed to do a “costume retrospective” each week on the costumes used during previous seasons, working concurrently with the reruns that will begin airing on GSN on Saturday.  And it gets better – Randall has agreed to answer YOUR QUESTIONS about some your favorite costumes from seasons past! So if you have a burning question about a costume from season 4, week 1, please feel free to post it in the comments section, tweet it to me or John (@puredwts), or submit it on our Contact Us page).  To refresh your memory, check out the ABC.com gallery of that episode to help you generate your questions.  Please have them submitted by 6 pm EST on Friday, and please make sure the costume you’re asking about is actually in that week’s episode. We’re extremely excited about this feature and hope you guys are too…I can’t wait to get more of the “inside track” on the costumes from Randall himself! 🙂

UPDATE: If my DVR is correct, it looks like they’re actually airing the season 4, week 1 & week 2 performance shows back-to-back on Saturday, followed by the week 2 results show (there was no elimination during the first week of that season).  So if you guys have any questions about the week 2 costumes, please go ahead and forward them over as well so I can send them to Randall.  Sorry for the confusion! 🙂