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Costumes and Couture in Charlotte

by Amelia Gray
FashionCareerCenter Columnist

Grounded yet eclectic fashion turns heads in the largest city in North Carolina, where one designer is proud to say that his fashion hovers between taste and travesty.

The man who dressed the Pearl Girls from "The Producers" and is responsible for the yellow dress from "Contact" is William Ivey Long, a Tony winner and native to the Carolinas who will be honored in April with his own exhibit at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC.

The "Worker Bee" Makes Good
"I have always thought of myself as a worker bee,'' Long told The Charlotte Observer."I figure that in a hundred years someone will decide if a) they even remember me and, b) if I was an artist. To have an exhibit of my life's work so far at the Cameron Art Museum in my home state of North Carolina is truly an honor for this worker bee."

The exhibit, "Between Taste and Travesty: Costume Designs by William Ivey Long," features costumes from Long's designing career. Fashion design school students can take the opportunity to see classic costumes from Broadway shows like "The Producers," "Hairspray," "Nine," "Crazy For You," and "La Cage aux Folles" up close. The title of the exhibit comes from the New York Times review in 1983 of "The Lady and the Clarinet," in which critic John Simon wrote, "William Ivey Long's costumes hover between taste and travesty."

Shoes for Real Women
Far from Long's extravagant Broadway costuming is Sean Washington, owner of Charlotte-based Monet Shoes. The 36-year-old designer worked at shoe companies growing up, and noticed a few key shortcomings in the industry. "A lot of the shoes now aren't made for the [general] population," he told The Charlotte Observer. "They're not making them for feet. They're making them cute and for fashion."

Washington took the concept of accessible fashion to task, and now sells comfortable shoes in sizes up to 12 in his two Monet Shoes stores. Fashion design school students could learn a lot from Washington, who makes each store work for its area, offering eclectic styles at the Carolina Place store and more conservative fashion at the University City location. In Charlotte's fashion climate, there's something for everyone.

Sources:
"3 Questions for Sean Washington" by Courtney Devores for The Charlotte Observer
Monet Shoes
"2:42 PM: William Ivey Long costumes on exhibit" Cameron Art Museum Press Release

About the Author
Amelia Gray is a teacher and freelance writer in San Marcos, TX. Amelia earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Arizona State University.