Produces luxurious international standard and latin dresses of the most modern fabrics (which are available for purchase at the company in meters), very generously stoned with Swarovski crystals, you can really feel expensive wearing them. If I had to describe their gowns with one word, ’elegant’ jumps to mind.
Dance Allure (USA)
Very eye-catching designs combining artificial flowers with stripes and animalprint, brave and exciting creations.
Nice ball gowns, but I cannot really make a pattern of their product line. They include clean lined, simple and elegant standard gowns as well as daring designs combining pink grapefruit with violet, purple with orange.
Designs to Shine (USA)
Maria McGill’s company produces extraordinary designs – in the good way. Overlapping stripes stoned in a twirl, flowerprint fabrics cleverly compounded with plain, beads and Swarovski crystals mixed in beautiful ways, flesh stretch net backs stoned in flowers like an beautifully finished glass-painting, semi-sheer and non-sheer fabrics married all make their creatings exciting and a shear pleasure to look at. Along with Dance Allure and the Luxxus Fashion, they are the most creative designers in my opinion.
Edda Hsu (Germany-UK)
Edda Hsu and Crystal Clover who are business partners offer a large collection of high quality fabrics for sale, and also make professionally finished standard and latin ball gowns.
Located in the United Kingdom, Farale specializes in shaded fabrics in the largest color scale I’ve yet seen. Shading is available for all the fabrics commonly used in dance sport – georgette, satin chiffon (’pearl chiffon’ at Farale), stretch satin, dance crepe (which is different from Chrisanne’s dance crepe, so Farale might consider changing the product’s name), stretch net, lycra and organza. Shaded fabrics – mainly due to the large variety of colors – are not kept on stock, but produced on order. Having ordered several times from them, I can say that their fabrics are just lovely and the service is excellent.
Luxxus Fashion Department (Germany)
Although mostly engaged in haute couture, dance sport ball gowns are only a small section of their portfolio, but definitely to be mentioned here. Iskander Porodjuk’s radiant creations are a perfect combination of elegance and creativity.
A long-established Polish dressmaker producing lovely ball gowns. The standard gowns’ style reminds me that of Chrisanne – elegance with a touch of pep.
The name comes from the name of the three sisters: Melinda, Magdolna and Erika. Magdi, the establisher of the company, having first trained at Pisu (Italy) has more than 15 years of experience in dressmaking – design and finish are both done by her. Crystal decoration is done by a highly experienced staff. Memara is the most important dressmaker of Dreamgown.
Creative designs made of high quality fabrics. Michelini uses hot-fix Swarovski stones, ensuring their durability. (It’s not even possible to rub those stones down with your nails, plus the dress is machine washable – as long as the fabrics allow it.)
Randall Christensen (USA)
A designer for Dancing with the Stars, Randall Designs produces premium ball gowns (international latin, standard, American smooth).
One of the oldest ballroom gown designer companies of Italy. Superb quality gowns with a smart ideas.
Sasha Pust (Slovenia)
Sasha sponsored several successful Slovenian couples over the years, like Janja Lesar and Matej Krajcer, Jagoda Strukelj and Jurij Batagelj. Her designs are rather ’simple and beautiful’ – a crystal AB belt on plain red, a black and white latin dress with a flare skirt. I would say, rather cautious designs which would be definitely accepted by the audience, but will not tear them to two parties, those who fall in love them for the first sight and those who just hate them.
A wonderful use of colors and a beautiful finish. Sponsored dancers include Tatyana Demina, Ekaterina Fedotkina and Yulya Saikina. In the UK they sell gowns with the name ’Danscouture’.
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On the left, the beautiful Doreen Freeman in 4 heels. Many of the ladies today would struggle to use their feet as well and create the elegance of those times. 6 gross of stones were stuck on the shoes, presenting the feet with finesse. Only ladies who are confident of their footwork dare highlight their feet. Strange we do not see decorated shoes so often today!
Ladies experimented with varying strengths of nylon net, now favoured as it did not crease. 40 denier gave the most stiffness and volume for the big skirt, like this one on Shirley Daye. These fuller dresses became known as ‘powder puffs’, or rather unflatteringly the ‘lampshade’ style!
This early photo of Brenda Winslade from the late 50’s shows the striking use of motives on the skirt and also how the decoration was continued onto the gloves. Shoe-string straps were eminently popular. Hairstyling still very natural.
Doreen Casey favoured very fine pure silk bridal net that appeared gossamer like, and in dancing created the lightness of a cloud. The dress in the photo on the left caused a sensation. It was one of her own designs. Her skirt was made with a long vertical split in the front. When she danced it opened up to reveal matador style pants! Below left: Harry Smith-Hampshire and Doreen Casey at the Carl-Alan Awards in 1958. Below right: Harry and Doreen in competitive action.
Rostrum Photograph from the early 60’s
This rostrum picture features the uniformity of the shape and length of the dresses that was typical of the early 60’s. From left to right the couples are: Anthony Hurley &Fay Saxton, Peter Eggleton & Brenda Winslade, Rudolf & Mechtilde Trautz. Notice also the similarity of bouffant hair styling on each lady.
Bobbie Irvine MBE
Bobbie’s two dresses show how the cut of the net altered the shape of the skirt during her reign. The later photo, on the left, promoted a lighter more aesthetic picture. The bodices became more intensively adorned using thousands of tiny beads, pearls and sequins. Hours of work for the dressmaker. Both Bobbie Irvine and Micheline Ronneaux, shown on the left, are wearing their hair in a bun. Similar styles of dress decorated with one theme from neck to hem and also the rather exagerrated use of boning to enhance the lady’s bust line!
This photo of Peter Eggleton & Brenda Winslade and Bill & Bobbie Irvine taken at the Royal Albert Hall I have included for pure indulgence. They appear as if they era dancing in a formation team! Not only is it interesting for the ladies similar style of dress, but also very unique in the synchronization of movement and interpretation of all technical aspects.
Brenda Winslade is now wearing a shorter skirt and is shown on the left with Peter Eggleton. This enhanced the beautiful ankle expression and clarity of foot placement. The hair now piled high giving a longer line. The decoration continuing from the bodice through into the sleeves adding volume and width to enhance the man’s frame.
The 2 dresses of Fay Saxton highlight the change in dress and dance styling throughout her career. A greater sense of picture line and sway was evolving. Now that more of the ladies legs were visible, choreography also developed to show more fancy and varied foot patterns.
During the 70’s the introduction of a range of colours in feathers, twinkle chiffon, nylon net and sequins was incredible.
Both these dresses worn and made by Janet Gleave show the vibrancy of 1 colour using different fabrics and adornment. The nylon net used was now only 30 denier, slightly softer, thereby allowing the man more ease of movement, particularly when moving his legs forward.
Many ladies had been experimenting with longer all chiffon dresses for demonstrations. In November 1982, Heather Stuart, dancing with John Wood as an amateur, started a revolution. This was the firsts long dress with no net to be used in competition in a long time. It really lead the present trend. Marion Alleyne (Welsh) and Denise Weavers had tried it four years before, but it had not been enthusiastically accepted, so at that time they rejected the idea. At the 1983 U.K. Championship half the finalists were in long dresses. It took a full 18 months before all followed suit.
Pleated top skirts were popular in Vikki Barr’s time. The first dress, far left, was dynamic in its simplicity of stripes. Then it all changed. Vikki warned Jack Reavely that the fashion was going to change. She knew that as a retailer of nylon net Jack could get lumbered with a no longer desirable fabric but Jack sold it to the world of ballet for their tutu’s! The second was one of the first dresses made with groupings of feathers glued onto the skirt separately. The individual flames featured on the sleeve and across the bodice also became popular, being used around the hem of longer dresses instead of feathers.
Both photos of Lindsey Hillier show the change in dance style during the 80’s. With no restriction of yards of stiff net in the way, there was freedom for greater swing. New fabrics swirled so well the choreography became more rotational. The feeling of ‘swoosh around the ankles was enhanced by yards of feather boa sewn around the hemline. Many competitions for several years featured virtually every lady using the same shape skirt with approximately 12 meters of feather.
In the late 1980’s floaters and drapes became the ‘thing’ as seen on Anne Lewis’ dresses. Big hold, big movement, big shapes. Dresses that really danced. Shoulder adornments enhanced the top line especially for ladies of slight physique to match the man’s wider hold. Feathering over the whole skirt was an ingenious way to use feathers as seen on the black & white dress on the far left. The spider web idea was copied from a latin dress that Helen Richey wore and was made by Kerry Clarke. The blue dress on the left was made by Zdenka Arko.
Karen Hilton MBE
The left picture shows another dress with a big skirt and big drapes and created big impact for Karen Hilton. The dress show on the right was novel for its idea. The spiral cut off the shoulder dress designed and made by Elaine Gornall was stunning in its beautiful simplicity. This dress was copied all over the world. In the 90’s the 1 piece cut with no seam on the waist or hip became popular. This was only possible with the introduction of stretchy fabrics so the panties could be included in the cut.
2 more of Karen’s dresses are shown below. The first on the left at her final championship was multi rhinestoned. Many dresses stoned from top to hem would need as many as 17,000 rhinestones. This dress may have had rather more, there was not a space for one more stones! The feather dress was visually striking with its black and white feathering. The beginning of this century saw a move away from feathers and volume. This presentation features former retired competitors only, those champions who are still competing are not yet part of the history. I move now back in time to the last 40 years of latin fashion.
Bill & Bobbie Irvine MBE
By comparison Latin American competitive dancing is relatively new and my history only goes back to the end of the 50’s. Unlike the ballroom, where the men have worn tails for 80 years, the clothes for the men changed radically, I shall therefore also relate to the men’s styling.
My presentation starts with Bill and Bobbie Irvine showing the style of the late 50’s, early 60’s. The dinner suit for the man and the cocktail style dress with full or tiered skirt was a typical look for the lady.
Walter Laird & Lorraine
Pictured above left: Laird and Lorraine in 1960. Lorraine in a 4 tier frilled dress with no decoration made by Valeria Houseman. In the second photo on the right we see Walter Laird &Lorraine with Walter and Marianne Kaiser from Switzerland. Notice how both ladies are wearing ballroom shoes. Originally ladies purchased wedding shoes from Dolcis at 29/11d a pair, and then from a Dance News advert sent off to Bobbie Dwyer for non skid soles at 2/6 a pair. These had to be cut and glued to the shoes!
Walter Laird was the first man to use the bolero jacket. In 1962 Lorraine caused a stir by being the first lady to wear a fringe skirt. (Pictured on the left.) It was deemed to be rather too sexy for some! The freedom of movement and the whippy feeling of the skirt slashing round the legs is a fashion that has been repeated throughout the decades.
Supadance were now in the business of making shoes especially for dancing. Wally is wearing the original boots and Lorraine the first ever dance sandal with a closed back that she helped Mick Free design.
Bill & Bobbie Irvine MBE
Bill and Bobbie Irvine MBE are pictured on the left with the introduction of decorated bodices, and now also wearing latin sandals. In the early years latin american dancing was so tame, Bobbie told me if she did a small développé when dancing rumba shoulder to shoulder step that it brought a surge of applause from the audience.
Rudi & Mechtilde Trautz
1969 saw the fashion if mini frilly latin dresses as seen here worn by Mechtilde Trautz. Then the majority of ladies were wearing pale colours. Black was considered quite sensational. This black and gold dress made by Mrs Thein was inspired from a film ‘Angelique’. Rudi Trautz was the last World champion to sport a dinner jacket. Rudi & Mechtilde Trautz also won the British Open Professional Latin Championship from 1967 and held the title until 1970.
Wolfgang & Evelyn Opitz
In 1970 Wolfgang Opitz, here with partner Evelyn was the first man to have the nerve to break with the tradition of a suit. The stretchy helenca 1 piece cat suit was born, originally without sleeves. Traditionalists were outraged. The style of dance also changed dramatically, the man now free to lift his arms above his head without his neck disappearing in a sea of barathea!
Hans Peter & Ingeborg Fischer
1973 to 1975 saw Hans Peter and Ingeborg Fischeras champions. Peter favoured the sleeved cat suit, with dress shirt and bow tie. Inge wore mini velvet dresses with boned bodices, complimenting the excellent posture. Frothy, frilled and rather flouncy type skirts reacted to the rather bouncy style of dance of the day.
Peter Maxwell & Lynn Harman
Peter Maxwell combined the elasticity of a cat suit with the more authentic look of the bolero. The fashion of an open neck also enhanced freedom. Lynn Harman is wearing sequin material which became very popular in the mid 70’s. The length of the dress was now knee length and with the introduction of long fitted sleeves. There was a greater sense to the return of elegance.
Alan & Hazel Fletcher
This is me with my husband and partner Alan. During our time of competing the fashion began to change from being less pretty and fluffy and rather lightweight in dance style as in the first picture on the left taken at the Royal Albert Hall to something more grounded. Continued next week.
Alan & Hazel Fletcher
During our time of competing the fashion began to change from being less pretty and fluffy and rather lightweight in dance style to something more grounded. The 1977 purple dress was a sensation. Everybody wanted to know where to buy this material that glittered so much. The whole dress was in fact penny sequins I had sewn on one by one. I created a nightmare for the dressmakers! By 1981 all dresses were made on a leotard base with stretch lycra fabrics or of body stocking fabric. Fringe, strips and panels were popular for the skirts. Often open on one thigh to show a longer leg line. Bodices often featured cut outs or skin coloured see through inserts. Alan was now wearing a stretchy shirt cut like a leotard and helenca trousers. The men began to use decoration on their shirts.
Espen & Kirsten Salberg
Espen Salberg was innovative even as a competitor in his designs for Kirsten. The combining of varying patterns in one dress was very theatrical and glamorous. Uneven hemlines became popular. The flames seen on the dress on the left were also copied a lot in ballroom dresses. Hair accessories became popular for the ladies in the early 80’s.
Donni Burns & Gaynor Fairweather MBE
In 1984 the trend was toward matching costumes, not only in colour, but also decoration. There was a riot of colour for men and ladies. In the meantime the fashion changed for the men. Donnie brought back the fashion of normal cut trousers in soft fabrics. This enhanced leg action and foot speed, and encouraged the dancers to base their choreography less on line and more on action. The photograph below shows the development of the characterization of the dances. Early in the 90’s when Gaynor started to work with a long skirt for paso doble, the spanish atmosphere created from them both set new standards for all to try and achieve.
The return to competition saw Donnie now all in black. The colours for the men had waned in favour of black during the 90’s. Most designers create the idea for a dress with a sketch. Elaine Gornall often made dresses for Gaynor by draping material over her and experimenting with where to pin it all together. This is possible due to 4 way stretch fabrics. This slinky black dress (left) allowed the more sensual movements of the late 90’s to be seen.
Hans Galke & Bianca Schreiber
Hans Reinhard Galke and Bianca Schreiber from Germany always presented their own inimitable style.
Pictured top: a beaded fringe dress with a real showgirl theme.
Pictured left: a simple cocktail dress with no decoration. The adornment was actually body painting.
Fashion and dance Awards
The Fashion and Dance Awards Day sponsored by DanceSport International Ltd was organized recently by Philip Wylie & Pam Peters at the Colosseum Ballroom, Watford, combining a normal competition day with Fashion & Dance Awards across various grades. Dance News this week features the Fashion report by Jane Phillips. Watch future editions for competition reports and for results.
Junior Fashion Award:
Amateur Fashion Award:
Senior Fashion Award: