The fashion behind the Phantom

Posted by on Oct 2nd, 2009 and filed under Featured, Shows. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Extravagant doesn’t begin to describe the costumes in “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular” at the Venetian.

Associate Costume Designer Sam Fleming revealed some of the secrets behind the show’s style in a workshop during the hotel’s “Phantom Fans Week” last month.

Photos by Joan Marcus

Photos by Joan Marcus

There are 229 costumes worn by people in the show including actors, stagehands and even the conductors. When you count the mannequins onstage for the “Masquerade” number and the mannequins that fill the opera boxes lining the sides of the theater, there are 500 total costumes in the show.

The opera box mannequins, which Fleming says are affectionately dubbed “the eternal audience,” are dressed to the nines as if they were real people – the dresses have bustles, the women wear opera gloves and the mannequins have museum-quality glass eyes. Fleming said the male mannequins’ suits are hand-me-downs from other productions of “Phantom,” but the women’s dresses are made in London.

No expense was spared in the creation of the costumes for the production. The Phantom’s costumes alone cost a quarter of a million dollars. The Phantom’s “Red Death” costume, worn very briefly during the “Masquerade” number, has 24 different elements and is constructed from seven different fabrics.

Although many of the costumes in “Phantom” are on stage for merely seconds and many are shrouded in darkness during the show, all of the fabrics, designs and details are lavish.

The character Piangi wears a cape that weighs 70 pounds. Since the character is supposed to be rotund, the actor wears a fake belly underneath his costume. Foam was way too hot for the actor, so the designers devised a cage-like apparatus for him to wear to make him look bigger.

Madam Giry’s costume may look like a plain black dress, but it is made from a fabric from France that looks like a watermarked silk.

Attention was paid to the tiniest of details in the costumes.

A piece of lace on one costume is made in France and takes six weeks to get.

Madame Firmin wears a costume with beads on the bodice and the costume department had to put baffling behind each bead so the microphone wouldn’t pick up the clacking sound when she walked.

Such attention to detail takes a dedicated staff who work directly on the show in Las Vegas , but it also takes 173 artisans throughout the United States to keep the show outfitted, including those who make shoes, gloves, hats, wigs and jewelry.

Kristine McKenzie

Kristine grew up in Minnesota and got tired of the Arctic weather so she left one extreme for another in 1994 and moved to Las Vegas where she much prefers the desert heat. She earned her degree in journalism and worked in radio, newspapers and magazines before joining in 2001. Kristine has covered a variety of topics for the website, writes blogs and loves her current assignment, which is to eat at some of the world's finest restaurants and write about the exciting Vegas dining scene. Follow Kristine on Google+ and Twitter.

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