I’ve always loved glamorous costume dresses, from the ones Ginger Rogers wore to the extravagant ballroom gowns on Dancing with the Stars. Bob Mackey famously dressed Cher in graceful cut-outs, hand-sewn beading and appliques. (Are there reruns of the late ‘60s Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour?)
When I first went to Cairo in 1984, I bought a red sleeveless all-over gold-fringed “shimmy dress” in which I shimmied for years, including working in Athens and Pireus. I also remember many styles of folkloric dresses available from different regions, and enjoyed the shows of the slightly aging dancers Fifi Abdo and Nagua Fouad wearing elegant sparkling dresses.
When I was in Cairo to dance at my employer’s 1990 wedding (the late Atif Hassan of Cairo Café in Mill Valley, CA), I had a few costumes made. One was a sequined dress from Madame Hekmet with a bright flower winding across the mesh torso and I thought I was delightfully au courant.
Now that I am past my firm-bodied prime I’ve discovered that dancing in dresses solves many figure problems. For instance, a shortened torso (yes, we’re all shrinking) may not look as beguiling in a Bedlah bra and belt set. But in a dress, still beautiful!
Also I rely on sleeves, sheer and bespangled, to nicely reshape the fleshy underarm wings. Legs can be covered or shown with a simple slit, as high or low as seems lovely, according to condition of legs. And the décolleté can be high or low depending on what still looks great enough to reveal.
Another huge advantage of a dress for dancers of any age is you step into it and zip it up—done! Maybe add a hip belt, some jewelry and a shrug for a sleeveless dress, and voila, good to go!
Dresses for every woman
I’ve designed many different dress styles and through experimentation have come up with a few I would call classics that flatter every figure. Younger dancers can also feel deliciously slinky and glam dancing in a gorgeous gown.
Persian (now, especially Iraqi) bellydancers typically wear dresses. Recently popular Persian dance teachers Shahrzad and Hannah Romanza have come to me for custom dresses for themselves and their troupes (see left).
Let me help you design a fabulous dress to help you feel your beautiful best on stage. Some of these dresses can also double for diva appearances at New Year’s fetes or grand galas!