Monday, October 24, 2011

Electric Looks: Sharon Stewart will turn you on at HighBall!

We sat down to interview Sharon Stewart. Sharon is creating one grand look to open the show, and you will NOT want to miss it. This outfit is extremely large scale and time consuming but Sharon graciously took a little break to chat with us.  Read on!

Photo by Kaylee Davis 

How did you first get into fashion?

My mom is seamstress. When I was little I would spend hours looking at pattern books and in stores with her. She really helped me expand on ideas. As an adult in Colorado, I started my own alternation business and within a year, I managed the costume shop for Western State College in Dennison, CO. From there it kind of took off. I definitely consider myself a costume designer, not fashion. I don’t really do any ready-to-wear.

How would you describe your overall design aesthetic?

I prefer theater costuming so it stems from the character I am designing for and the intended portrayal to audience. It is not about aesthetic but more about communication. I like to observe staging and the director before I work on a costume. I usually start with a color palette then prioritize the work by what costumes are seen the most and work down from there. I work on everything as a collection and keep referring back to what I have done and making additions. It is never just one outfit at a time when it comes to designing for a production.

What is your inspiration for the piece you will be featuring at HighBall?

I took 2 words that are themes for HighBall this year, “transformation” and “glow,” and let my imagination run. My general inspiration came from those words. There will be a performance aspect and the concept is about where we are as humans, where we are headed, and who we are going to become. I’m a self-professed Sci-Fi nerd. This is definitely the most time I have allotted for one costume and it is the biggest scale I’ve done.

Who or what are your major design influences?

Electronics are big a influence. My husband does work in robotics and that is why we moved here. This costume has some of that but I’m not giving everything away. It will still be a surprise at Highball. He has really helped me with this creation though and we will both be on stage to help reveal it. I will say the head piece is so grand that it probably weighs forty pounds. My husband built a metal “ribcage” support structure that sits on the models waist to disperse the weight but we will still need to assist her with the transformation.

Wow, I can’t wait for the unveiling. Now tell me, who are you wearing right now?

Oh, I’m a thrift store nerd. I like the idea that things don’t need to end when someone is done with them. I made a pact with myself that as much as possible, I’m only going to shop from thrift stores this year for “designer wear.”

That is really great. We love the vintage look. So, if you could design a costume for any movie, who would it be and why?

I would love to work on a movie that is about the connection between the current reality of technology and where it is going and a prediction of where the Sci-Fi genre thinks it could go. I would love to costume the show Firefly in more techy way than the current western/steampunk look. I would want to combine steam punk and futuristic, electronic elements.

Where do you see yourself and your career in five years?

I’m involved with Short North Stage so I would love to see that taking off and I would start costuming large scale productions for them. I did the costumes for Follies, which was so perfect for that building. I got to think about what would be visually striking for that great space. I’d like to travel as well but I don’t dream of making it huge and working on Broadway or anything. I like being the one to actually create everything, not just dream it up and hand it off to someone else for all of the construction. Plus it is so time consuming. I’d hate to be away on work that long.

What do you think separates costume from regular clothing?

Costume tells a full story. Ready-to-wear can be beautiful but it doesn’t tell story. Costuming may not necessarily be beautiful, but it becomes beautiful through the story. It tells about the character: who they are, where they came from, what weather is like, everything. It is like the complete picture and it is specific to one person and their moment in time.

What is the best way for fans of your work to keep tabs on you or make a purchase?

Umm,  haha. I will go home and start a facebook fan page right now. I’ve always been kind of a behind-the-scenes type and not self-promoting. That’s why I like costuming. It kind of lets me work in the dark. I really struggled even with bio for Follies.

Sharon’s new facebook page is called The Red Thread and can be found at!/pages/The-Red-Thread/  Come see her and all the rest of the talent we are showcasing at Highball Halloween!