by Tracey Paleo, Gia On the Move

Dawn Smart
Dawn Smart of Dore Designs. Photo credit Tracey Paleo

When is costume “couture” in dance? Always! in the sparkling world of Dawn Smart’s Dore Designs.

When it comes to dancing like a champion, there is no difference between costume and couture except for one element – Time.  “I’ve been drawing my […] off for the last three days.  In the Ballroom Dance world, we create a new line every single day.”

A visit to this year’s 2013 Emerald Ball held at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton was a sumptuous treat of eye-opening insight into what being a dress maker for high level competitive performers is really all about.

Tony Eng Photography
Dore Designs. Photo by Tony Eng Photography

The Emerald Ball happens to be one of 5 events all year round where Dawn Smart showcases the full collection of her unique, stand out Dore Designs that are created and crafted at the “atelier” level.  Here, clients pay a hefty sum (starting at $3500 and as much as $6000) for a show dress to begin with. But catering to her contest entry to pro/am division winner devotees, following them from event to event, is what has become the cornerstone of the Dore brand.

She’s very much a modern century couturier in the lines of Balmain, Givenchy or Dior, turning out custom drawn, designed, fitted and sewn gowns for each client in person, most of the time on the spot, during competition breaks, when dancers have precious moments to spare.

Listening to her clients Dawn translates elaborately described illusions to material works of moving art. Painstaking patterning and penciling new gowns and dresses, from start to finish during private sessions and working on every detail: every pin, feather, sequin, and Swarovski crystal placement, every peep and coverup section, every slit, etc. is part of the “noticeable” edge that Dawn gives her star performers.  And for as many days as a competition lasts, Dawn will sketch her fingers to the bone until the perfect raiment is envisioned.

dore dancing
Dore Designs

In addition, Dawn provides what may be the ultimate resource for gown and dress making: bolts of European purchased silks that are completely dyed in a single color.  There is never an occasion where she will mix and match color lots.  Every finished design is uniform in each color block in pigment and shade from head to toe.  She does however, make all of her garments here in the USA and overseas every detail, which is why her clients trust her utterly for flawless presentation.

Dawn also provides another completely unique service.  For each dancer, a customized dressmaker form of her client’s measurements is created.  So, should a lady with a truly demanding travel schedule or one with a last minute glitch, need a gown immediately, one can be shipped long distance without being fit in person.  She won’t have to go through the distress of wondering whether or not she’ll be able to properly Waltz or Rumba in front of judges.  A show woman can be confident that she will never experience an uncomfortable seam scratching against her body, fabric bulging in an odd place, losing a stitch and most of all not being able to shimmy or sache across the dance floor should a weight change have occurred.

It might sound like it is an incredible poo-pooing extravagance that most people cannot afford, but Dore Designs’ has a near cult following with fans around the globe.  Plus her gowns have made numerous appearances on, So You Think You Can Dance, and New York Fashion Week. So strong is Dawn as a powerhouse of creativity, client hand-held support and even sponsorships on the circuit, she is now in preparation for Dore Designs appearances on several up and coming reality shows (which of course we can’t mention yet, even though we already have the “skinny” on one of them!).  The power of competitive dance glamour!  She’s a lady “On The Move” and we love her!

Real die hard glitterati will want her gowns for a night at the Opera, the Ballet, a Black-tie wedding or an elegant charity gala.

All images are displayed with permission from the artist.