This past season American Ballet Theatre premiered Weren't We Fools?, with choreography and costumes by Christian Holder, set to songs by Cole Porter, including standards plus unpublished and rediscovered works. Holder explains his design, fabric, and color choices:
“I tried to capture the elegance of Porter's world. I didn't want to be trapped too literally in any particular era, but the women's costumes have an overall 1930s feel. There's a foundation of that, but I've taken license with certain things.
“I went with purple for the leading lady because it's a royal color, a passionate color, and I felt that's who she is. I started there. And I like ombré: I like the idea that you see something but it changes. I thought it might be interesting, since the dress is ankle-length, that there would be a different play in the fabric from the asymmetric line of beading. The top part of the dress is silk crepe, cut in panels, and the flounce below is cut in a circle. That actually is one layer of georgette with a top layer of iridescent silk chiffon, which is ombréed so that you can't really discern that it's a different fabric, it just plays differently. I could have done it in crepe all the way down, but I wanted the lightness as we approach the pointe shoe.
“I wanted it all very deluxe, but I wanted it not to overpower her. The others are slightly more diluted in tone; I went to other palettes that I thought would supplement the initial statement. There was a dress that I had seen as a very pale blue that ended up being silver-gray, because it was too close to the jade one. With the lighting, we got different heat and coolness depending on the light that was playing upon it.”
To learn more about this project, go to www.entertainmentdesignmag.com.