Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Lookin' Good - The Costume Connection! - Week 44

Here we are again, week 44 already! Only eight weeks left.  Wow, I can hardly believe it.  It went by so fast.  Time really does fly when your having fun.  A special welcome to Lebanon this week.  So what's my topic for the week?  One word, costumes!  On week 5, I wrote a post called "What to Wear".  Check it out! This week I want to share the process of costume making and putting it all together.  Let's get right into it!

I encourage everyone to visit my blog on week 41 called "Herencia's 2013 L.A. County Fair Show - The Sequel" to check out all the spectacular photographs, many taken by Folklorico Page, of our costuming.  I have received many email messages complimenting the group on their costumes. Thank you.  Richard and I have worked hard to create a visual experience through both the costuming and the dancing.  But where do all these wonderful pieces come from?  Who designs them?  How does it all come together?  I'm glad you asked!  Hopefully, I'll answer all those questions and more this week.

I think I've done a pretty good job of establishing that there is a costume for each different region.  In many cases there are several.  Typically, there is a more common, recognizable regional costume that most group utilize; however, as mentioned in last weeks post, "Chihuahua, Chiapas & Baja",  a single region can have several different costumes depending on the dance and its purpose.  Last week I mentioned that the typical accepted Chiapas dress is black dress with colorful floral stitched print. Even so, I have seen many variations of Chiapas dresses.

I would say that although there is a general accepted look for many of the regions, they are not absolute and variations are common.  One such variation for Chiapas is a white dress with the stitched floral designs, not a common as the black.  There are many other indigenous costumes, as well, that some groups utilized that may not be immediately recognizable for the region to some in the viewing audience.  Guess it would depend how in tune you are with the region and its costuming. Oftentimes, I have had to ask what region a group is dancing, especially when they don't use the common dress.

There are several stores that sell folklorico costuming.  Many of them are located on the historical Olvera Street in Los Angeles.  There are several sources from Texas as well.  Just look up folklorico costumes on the web and they all pop up!  Often times, they sell basic standardized dresses and costuming.  Sometimes they will offer a generic version and a deluxe version for more money, of course. For some of the regions, Herencia will use standard manufactured costumes and then dress them up with accessories or embellish them by adding beading, sequins, lace, etc.  These costumes are often manufactured in Mexico and then brought over to the US and put up for sale.  However, many dancers and directors themselves have taken voyages into Mexico to purchase costuming and bring back.  This can save you some money if you have the time to go.

Some of the general costumes Herencia uses are the deluxe Chiapas dress, Yucatan dress, Tamaulipas skirt and jacket, and china skirt and blouse.  For the men, often times the costumes are general ones, except the charro suits - those are custom made.  Other men's costumes that are general include the standard Veracruz shirt and pants, Norteno suit for Chihuahua, and the Tamaulipas chaps and jacket. Of course, Richard adds his special touch to the look to give it that Herencia flare! Snap! Snap! Snap! Work it Richard!  Own it!

As I mentioned, some costume pieces get embellished or enhanced.  One common enhancement I've seen is on the china blouse.  Many take the standard blouse and the add sequins over the floral design to spice it up.  Of course, this kind of work comes at a hefty price, unless you're skilled and can do it yourself.  As for the china skirts themselves, as I mentioned In my blog "A Tale of Two Chinas", there are many various creations on the market.  However, I have seen some skirt designs more common that are used by several folklorico groups.  Some brave and patient folks have even made their own.  The sequin and beading work takes an immense amount of time.  It's a labor of love and pride.  Check out these sequins and beading material I recently purchased in downtown Los Angeles. I told you I want to restore our two chinas and the investment has begun!  Although each item is fairly inexpensive, it adds up!  Not to mention the cost in labor to re-create and repair.

The city of Los Angeles is a wonderful place to hunt for costuming treasures.  The city has specialized districts within.  For example, there's the fabric district, the garment district, the jewelry district and so on.  Within these districts you will find sub-districts of sorts.  For example in the fabric district you will find fabric stores, lace, trim and ribbon shops, bead and accent shops, and so on. Every component to create a fabulous garment can be found downtown.

In the fashion district you will discover the ever so popular "alleys"!  Here you can go on the hunt for all kinds of accessories to really spice up your look.  All at a fantastic price.  It's all about the details! Details, details, details!  If you want a folklorico group that really stands out, you will have to really invest in the details.  

Downtown Los Angeles and its treasures are common knowledge to people within the city and those working in the costuming/design industry, folklorico people included!  It's no secret.  However, I have found that people do not share their sources!  They make you do all the leg work yourself to find what you need.  No one likes to tell you specifically where to go to find what your looking for. Another common occurrence I find humorous is that people who shop here often claim to have gotten a better price than you.  It never fails that when someone asks how much a yard you spent on something, they always seem to get it for half of what you paid!  Yeah right!

Richard and I have spent hours and hours searching for the best deals and most spectacular pieces. Although for the really spectacular pieces, you still spend a hefty price.  We went down one time to look for some crystal hair combs that we saw other groups using with their trenzas.  We liked them and wanted to incorporate them into our look.  No one would tell us the source, of course, so the hunt was on.  It's amazing how people just can't remember where they got them!  Hmmmm. Anyway, we never found them, but we found something even better and no one else is using them! We will never tell you where we found them!  Go look for them yourself!  

Another rule about shopping downtown is if you see it and like it, buy it because it will be gone next time.  A lot of what you find is there only for a short season.  Fashion and trends are always changing.  Another fact, the more you buy, the more they negotiate the price.  Herencia has acquired so much jewelry, that we could have a show every weekend and we could change the accessories for each show without repeating!  Seems like every time we go we find a new necklace, earrings, you name it!  Just recently we purchased a major bling necklace to go with the china costume.  But we only purchased one so, if only one women performs it in a show as a solo with her partner, she gets the added benefit of wearing the necklace!  The necklace made its stage debut this weekend at our Dia de Los Muertos performances.  Return next week for a chance to see it in one of the photos I post.

Of course, one of the things I look forward to when shopping downtown is the street vendor food carts!  Bacon wrapped hot dogs anyone!  This is a Los Angeles specialty!  I love them.  Can't get enough.  Who cares if they don't have a food license!  There's a shot for everything these days!  All I can say is yummy!  I get one, or two, or three every time I go downtown.  Take a chance and try them sometime!

Herencia has custom made dresses for the regions of Jalisco, Veracruz, Chihuahua and Sinaloa.  We have other custom costumes in process as well.  Granted there is a certain base look each region has to encompass.  A Jalisco dress needs to look like a Jalisco dress and a Veracruz dress like a Veracruz and so on.  What makes them custom and unique?  The details and design.  It is a fascinating process to see a gown go from a roll of fabric to a fully fledged masterpiece ready to go on stage. 

Many groups go to great efforts to make the costumes there own signature look.  Many groups do not want to be copied on stage. Details to fabric type, lacing, ribbons, trim, designs, pattern, colors and the like, can really change the look of the garment.  These nuances make the garment your own.  I have heard of groups purchasing entire lots/runs of trim and lacing so that no other group will have access to it and copy their dresses. It's that serious!  Ribbons width and variations also create a unique design on dresses.  Some make rows of three ribbons around the skirt, other make 5.  Some do more or less - it's their preference.  Anything that can be changed up to make it your own - beading, embroidery, accent trim, sequins and so on.

Richard designed the custom made dresses for Herencia.  He first made drawings of his vision, incorporating various elements often seen from the region.  For example, in his Jalisco dresses he incorporated the star pattern on the skirt.  Although some folklorico groups have staked claim in originating  this pattern, the star pattern comes from dresses that women in Mexico wore while riding horseback side saddle.  The ornate design on the dresses could be appreciated as it draped along the side of the horse.  Another design he created was the wave pattern in his Veracruz dresses.  Working side by side local seamstresses, together they brought his drawings and vision to life.  The Veracruz dresses were made in 2006.  Since then, at least four other groups have copied the design for their groups.  So it's back to the drawing board to create all new Veracruz dresses.

Richard's Jalisco and Chihuahua designs have also been copied. He is constantly working on changing them to keep them unique and fresh.  Costumes are provided to Herencia dancers that perform.  Although they remain the property of Herencia, the costumes get tailored to fit the performer.  There is ongoing visits to the seamstresses workshop as performers come and go.  Seems like there is always something in progress of development or being repaired.  These costumes are constantly being used and things happen, for example, rips, snags, broken zippers, torn lace or ribbon and the like all require regular maintenance and upkeep.  It never ends.

Once the dresses are complete, then comes all the extras:  Jewelry - necklaces, earrings, combs, broaches and bracelets, trenzas with ribbon and/or flowers, hats, make up and eyelashes, shoes or boots, stockings and bloomers, accessories like Spanish imported fans, rebozos and aprons, scarfs and bandannas, props, masks, canes and so on. There's a whole lot going on isn't there!  It never ends.  All the elements get brought together and result in an awesome display of color, creativity and art.

That's basically it!  Never ending collecting and investing in details!  Not a week goes by that we don't add something to the closet. Costume creation and development is time consuming, but is fun.  I have enjoyed it and appreciate that Richard has included me in the creating process.  So there you have it!  Costumes!

In other news, I wanted to share Chaffey High Schools ballet folklorico group with you.  For the past few years, Ballet Folklorico Tenochtitlan has come and performed at my work for Hispanic Heritage Month (September).  Here is some pictures of this years performance!

That's all for this week.  My apologies for publishing late this week. I lost all my pictures for the blog and had find some new ones!  Things have been too hectic, busy and I'm all stressed out. Be advised, the next few weeks may be a bit inconsistent.  I have lots of shows and dances I have to learn so my focus will be on that. I appreciate your understanding!  Until next week (or whenever) my peeps, this Wedo is out, about, and looking good!


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":
Google E-mail: onebigwedo@gmail.com
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo
Blogger: www.onebigwedo.blogspot.com

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana IE (Inland Empire)  
E-Mail: Bf_herencia_mexicana@yahoo.com

Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one!  Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required.  All are welcome.


1 comment:

  1. Favorites this time were the Saltillo blankets (I still have one, purchased in either Saltillo or Monterrey, many years ago) and the sewing machine that looks like the one my maternal grandmother and mother used when I was a kid.