Gregg Barnes Swarovksi costumes dreamgirls

SHINE BRIGHT: Swarovski is adding a heavy dose of sparkle to the set and costumes of “Dreamgirls,” which is making its debut at the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End in December. The company has provided more than one million crystals and worked alongside designers Gregg Barnes and Tim Hatley on the set and costumes of the musical that debuted on Broadway 35 years ago.

It follows the rise to fame of the Chicago-based trio “The Dreams,” in Sixties and Seventies in America. The West End production stars Amber Riley, who also appeared on the popular T.V. series Glee, Liisi LaFontaine and Ibinabo Jack.

The glistening, over-the-top gowns worn by the protagonists during their singing performances play an integral part in the musical’s storyline. Costume designer Gregg Barnes used more than 900,000 Swarovski crystals in different cuts and colors on gowns that range from embellished maxi caftans, to tasseled flapper-style midi-dresses, to a body-hugging off-the-shoulder dress decorated with crystals and white fur.

Gregg Barnes Swarovski Dreamgirls Costumes

A sketch by Gregg Barnes  Costumes

When the musical trio first takes the stage, each woman is seen wearing a gown embellished with 30,000 crystals.

The Swarovskis sparkle extends beyond the costumes and onto the stage, in the form of three curtains that feature a wide range of crystals, ranging from arch-shaped ones to pink and metallic-tinted pieces. One of the curtains features large crystals fitted with LED lighting to create special effects.

In total, the curtains feature 60,000 crystals and weigh up to 400 kg each. It took a team of 8 people hundreds of hours to make them by threading the crystals on wire strands.

“I had imagined this wonderful shimmering world for the set. We needed a sense of glamour and the help of something very sophisticated and elegant, so we absolutely had to use Swarovski crystals. There is no other product that shimmers and shines like it,” said set designer Tim Hatley.

Gregg Barnes Swarovski costumes Dreamgirls

A sketch by Gregg Barnes  Courtesy Photo

Swarovski has always had an active involvement in film and theatre, having previously collaborated on the “Dreamgirls” film adaptation, as well as a series of other West End productions, such as “Aladdin,” “The Bodygaurd,” and “Evita.”

Last year, Nadja Swarovski also released a book titled “Swarovski: Fashion, Performance, Theatre and Design,” which spotlights the brand’s ongoing collaborations with costume designers and costumes created using Swarovksi crystals, such as the “Cinderella” glass slipper designed by Sandy Powell.