Profile of a Costume Designer
dancers in the first world, I am not sure how many of us give
thought to the conditions in which our costumes are produced. Though
the US dollar has fallen almost 40% since 2002, we are usually
unwilling to accept an increase in the cost of costumes.
we just gobble up the cheapest costumes, rarely questioning
who did all that beading and what their working conditions
might be like.
admit that I never used to consider these things either. I
became addicted to Bella’s costumes because
I found hers to be the most flattering, original and well-made
costumes on the market. But over the years as I have gotten
to know Bella herself, I now know that hers is a business
that I can be proud to support.
over 200 women on her payroll and insists on paying each
of them a fair wage for their work. She considers it her
responsibility to take care of them and knows that many have
grown to depend on the income they receive from her.
I asked her if she would soon retire, she just frowned and
said that there are too many mothers who need her to stay
in business for the good of their families.
dance continues to increase in popularity around the world,
Bella’s business has been booming. Though some of her costumes
can be quite expensive, she still struggles to keep up with
all of the orders she receives from around the globe. But
despite the extra income, she lives very, very simply and
takes care of those around her.
“I am not
a luxury person,” she shrugs.
have ever been to Bella’s Istanbul store, you know that she
is compulsive about taking in stray animals. Several dozen
cats live inside the store, making it difficult to sit down
for more than 10 seconds without a cuddly kitty jumping into
your lap. Bella’s store is a kitty dream home with shiny
beads and string everywhere!
these cats (and one dog) cause no small amount of mischief,
the entire store is designed to accommodate them.
are zipped into protective suit bags and the lint roller
is kept at arms length in case even a single hair should
end up on the clothing of a customer.
As a customer
in her shop, Bella and her warm staff personally dress you
in costume after costume and you simply stand there. They
then meticulously size each costume to fit perfectly. They
are eternally patient and friendly, showing some of that
old fashioned Turkish hospitality in the form of tea and
will never give you a straight answer as to if you look good
in any costume, so you must always bring a friend with you
if you need feedback.
important thing is that you like it,” she says, refusing
to give an opinion. She would not even answer me when I
asked her to discuss in general how to best costume different
body types. “The professionals know what they like already,
what is the reason for saying what I like?”
great pride in her creations and touches each and every costume
with her own hands. Sometimes she sews on the stones, sometimes
she beads the fringe, sometimes she sews on the sequins,
but each costume has been worked on by Bella personally.
And she prides herself on never making the exact same costume
is a bit of a workaholic, staying up until 2am sewing and
sketching new designs at home after a long day at work.
that she loves to make sketches for really different costumes,
but says with a sigh that they are harder to sell and that
she spends most of her time doing what people want and expect
from her. Occasionally she also makes costumes for ballroom
dancers and for circus performers, but she rarely has the
Bella had absolutely no interest in this sort of work when
she was young. Her mother was a tailor who sometimes did
work for singers and dancers. Bella went to school in hopes
of doing something else, but at the age of 19 began working
in her mother’s store. She slowly grew to love the business
and worked side by side with her mother for many years. At
first they only made belly dance costumes for local Turkish
dancers, but when a dancer from New York came to their store
it was the beginning of their international expansion. Today,
Bella reports that Korean, Japanese and American dancers
are her biggest customers.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
to Charge What You Are Worth by MIchelle Joyce
first step to becoming an effective negotiator is to emotionally
detach yourself from the outcome. If you can’t walk away
from the deal, you have already lost.
in Turkey 2006 by Michelle Joyce, photos by Michael
I am not exaggerating when I say that Sandra actually
threw herself into Bella's arms and wept when she first laid
eyes on her.
Grand International Bellydance Tour or How We Fled
India at Midnight, Eluding Our Captors and Evading
our Go-Go-Dance Responsibilities. or What Would Fifi
Do? by Michelle and Sandra
may not have been such a problem for us had the prostitutes not
been posing as bellydancers!
Belly by Tatseena
example: a promoter is thinking about planning an event and is
talking to a friend and says, “I can’t help it if
some other teacher has planned a show on the same day or night;
they are different styles anyway.”
Report on the First International Bellydance
Conference of Canada Part 2 - Sunday Club
by Denise Marino and Lynette
orchestra, Randa, Amir, a packed house and very festive mood.
How could it be any better?
Part 1 A Brand New Idea for Belly Dance: The Festival
Idea in its Formative Years by Amina Goodyear
speaking of a festival and its promoters that promised more than
they were able to deliver.