West Hawaii Dance Theatre’s Nutcracker Ballet is just a month away! While the live performances last only three days, the preparations begin nearly a year in advance and involve an amazing number of passionate individuals coming together to assemble an unforgettable night of holiday magic. Every single piece of the show is thought through with incredible detail. One such individual continually never ceases to astound us with her work is our couture costume designer, Kathleen Wenzel of Kathleen’s Tutu Atelier. She recently shared with us the details in creating the new baroque jacket for the Nutcracker’s Snow King.

“I have completed the Snow King baroque jacket!

To be honest, I got so into creating this jacket that I didn’t hold back.   It took me a little while to find something appropriate and unique to set the jacket off that once I found these particular silver bugle beaded appliques, I couldn’t get them out of my design. Once I had my heart set on those, it turned out my source did not have sufficient number in silver, but did have some additional in white/clear. I still could not move on from them, so I decided to hand-cut and re-assemble the two (silver and clear) to create what is.

I wanted to add some blue, but had been unable to find what I wanted, and as much as I loved the beaded appliques, even the silver seemed to recede into the white/silver brocade. So, I added the blue sequin strings on the backside of the net overlays and then added the combination of the blue and AB snowflake sequins. Lastly, I dropped a few teardrop crystals with blue bugle beads to dangle and catch some moving light.

We talked about this jacket having multiple roles, such as Snow King and Prince in Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. Therefore, I chose to leave the brocade white/silver rather than tint it blue. Thus, the need to introduce some blue to pull out the embellishments.

 The embellished panels are easily removed and others can be created to change out for these various roles. Another under-tunic can easily be built with attached poet sleeves or other style, including adding sleeve caps (I think that would work!)

 Let me tell you a bit about the jacket:

  1. I have lined the jacket body in 100% cotton coutil. As a result, like a ballet bodice, the jacket will have a bit of a “breaking in” period. That is, it may feel tight when first worn, but as the dancer performs in it (heating it up), it will loosen and mold to his body. That doesn’t mean it shapes to him for all time; it just mean it will give and soften as he works in it.
  2.  I have pre-washed everything that permanently makes up the jacket (including the lace jabot and lace at the sleeves) in cold water with Dreft and dried in a dryer on delicate. The coutil has been washed and dried on permanent press settings, so no worries about shrinking. So, IF you choose to wash the jacket and under-tunic, I would suggest it be done with cold water and dried on a cooler setting. IMPORTANT: Remove the embellished overlays prior to washing!
  3. The embellishments are all hand-stitched to a net overlay. Thus, they can be removed from the jacket and sleeves and the individual components will remain intact as they appear. That is, no worries about having to re-stitch everything. All that would be needed would be to hand-stitch the net panels to the jacket.
  4. The lace at the sleeve edges is on a bias stay, so, again, the lace can be removed and replaced easily as needed or desired.

Always impressed with Ms. Wenzel’s work, we are so thankful for her time and efforts. We are excited to see this beautiful piece of work on stage and hope you are too! The Nutcracker Ballet is being presented at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea on Thursday, December 21 and Friday, December 22 at 7pm, and on Saturday, December 23rd at 2pm. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the box office at (808) 885-6868. Fo more information about the show, call West Hawaii Dance Theatre & Academy at (808) 329-8876

Kathleen’s Tutu Atelier creates hand-crafted, custom-fitted costumes made to professional performance standards and designed to last. Only high quality materials, notions, and construction techniques are used throughout the costume with special attention paid to the costumes foundation. With proper care, storage and cleaning, these costumes will wear better and withstand years of use. Visit online at Facebook @KathleensTutuAtelier.