Q + A

A Conversation with Hoax Couture

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE HOAX COUTURE?

We are one of Toronto's only top designers who do custom work exclusively.  We work in the old "couture" style. That is, we consult with our clients, make drawings of each piece and then we do several fittings in muslin.  Only when everything is perfect do we make it into the desired fabrics.  There are no samples - everything is unique and made to order. You'll never see anyone else in the same outfit.  We can make anything!

WHERE DID YOUR CREATIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH COLEMAN LEMIEUX & COMPAGNIE BEGIN?

We were introduced by a client of ours, James Kudelka.

HOW DOES THE DESIGN PROCESS DIFFER FOR DANCERS' BODIES AND THE PHYSICAL DEMANDS OF PERFORMANCE?

The design process is basically the same.  We listen to what the choreographer wants and come up with ideas.  Because they are dancing in the costumes, our number one concern is that they are comfortable, can move properly, and that the fabrics don't tear.

The construction and pattern making is very involved.  The clothing has to be made in such a way so that when the dancers move, it returns to the same position as when standing still, without rumples or bunches.  To experience this, try putting on a jacket and doing up the buttons.  Look in the mirror, and raise your arms above your head a couple of times, then stop and notice what your jacket looks like.  This is the biggest difference between clothing for everyday wear and dancing.

THE COSTUMES FOR #LOVESEXBRAHMS ARE IN A PERIOD STYLE.  WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH GOES INTO PERIOD COSTUMING?

We have an extensive library at our studio for all types of fashions.  We would also look at period magazines and films reflecting the period.  We also troll internet for images!

CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH THE PROCESS OF CONCEPTUALIZING, DESIGNING, AND MAKING THE COSTUMES FOR #LOVESEXBRAHMS?

The first thing that happens is that we meet with James K and he tells us about what he is doing.  We bounce ideas around, listen to the music, and talk about the characters and their position in society and relation to each other.  Next we meet the dancers and see the work in progress; we do this several times.  We then meet with Laurence to talk about the budget for the piece.

We meet again with James and show him sketches, pictures and various ideas that we have been working on.  We talk about colours and fabrics.  Jim and I (Chris) then spend time designing, researching, bouncing ideas around and looking at fabrics, colours and notions, trim and accessories.

We meet the dancers again and take their measurements.  We meet with James to show him final design ideas and fabrics (pictured).  We always present him with several choices of designs, fabrics and colours for each character.  Together we choose the final looks.  We then make patterns and cut them in muslins.

We have several fittings with the dancers where we go from muslins (as many as it takes to get it perfect) then to the final fabrics.  There is a period of collaboration with some dancers in the finessing of their outfits.  We then have a dress rehearsal where the entire piece is danced in full costume.  After this, we make any necessary changes before a final dress rehearsal. Then... opening night!

WHICH ARTISTS (FASHION OR OTHERWISE) INFLUENCE YOUR CRAFT?

Depending on the work, Charles James, Eric Satie, Vionett, Manet, Tissot, and Commes Des Garcons.

IF YOU COULD DESIGN FOR ANY OTHER PERFORMING ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE?

Stromae

IF YOU WEREN'T WORKING IN YOUR PRIMARY MEDIUM, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?

Jim: painter

Chris: writer

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO? READING? WATCHING?

Listening to: Stromae, Satie, Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, Celia Cruz, Cesaria Evoria, Beethoven, Handel

Reading: Haruki Murakami, Roberto Bolano, David Sedaris, Louis de Bernieres, Junot Dias, Agatha Christie, Edwige Danticat, P. G. Woodhouse, Dickens, Dr. Seuss, A. J. Liebling

Watching: Empire, Suits, Empresses of the Palace, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Vikings, Game of Thrones

WHAT ARE YOUR GUILTY PLEASURES?

Our guilty pleasures include travelling (we're going to Puglia and Sicily for May), gourmet cooking and eating, reading, and gardening.

WHAT'S ONE OF THE MORE MEMORABLE PERFORMANCES YOU'VE SEEN LATELY?

Most recently, d'bi Young's brilliant new academy, The Watah School, at the Audre Lorde Festival.



Find Hoax Couture online, or follow them on twitter.


Hoax Couture's costuming will be on display in #lovesexbrahms, choreographed by James Kudelka and danced by members of Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie on April 9 - 11, 2015 in INTERMEZZI.