Fashioning an American Idol: Costume designer Soyon An shares her “Idol” style secrets
With a week full of season-enders and result shows, tonight’s "American Idol" finale comes with no shortage of anxiety and anticipation to see who will take home the coveted title and propel themselves that much closer to pop-stardom.
But as much as the singing and showmanship counts for votes and encouraging remarks each week, the style evolution of each contestant is often as dramatic as the countdown to the winner. Otis and FIDM-educated L.A. native and “American Idol” costume designer Soyon An shares her backstage secrets and the local L.A. talent she taps to create custom looks for the contestants.
Since you film “Idol” in L.A. do you turn to local talent to create costumes?
Definitely, Skin Graft was a big favorite of Adam Lambert. Maggie Barry makes a lot of custom pieces and I use accessories from a Torrance-based company called Energy Muse. Also, there is a woman named Diana Devine who has been making all of the feather and crystal pieces this season.
What are some of the most memorable style moments for you since you’ve been doing the costumes the past 2 seasons?
When Lil Rounds wore that black cat suit, no one expected that. No one knew that she had that great figure. She came out with all those curves and that little waist and surprised everyone.
Also this season with Crystal [Bowersox], I feel like she really came out of the fashion closet. I got her to step out of wearing black. The process is like a fashion makeover and it all happens simultaneously with the show. They are naturally progressing into a state of mind of being a performer and I am guiding their style so it all goes in the same direction.
Because you’ve got your hands full with "American Idol," (the show and the tour) and "So You Think You Can Dance," do you have any time to pay attention to what you wear? Is it all about comfort or do you always put a lot of effort into your personal style?
I wear a lot of local designers like Duuya on Melrose and from a store called Church on Santa Monica Blvd. that carries a lot of local designers. I layer a lot and need to be comfortable but like to add an edge with leather, canvas and jersey. I like skinny jeans and boots.
Do you eventually see yourself moving into film?
I love the shows I do because they are live and that’s so exciting. I love live TV; nothing can replace that excitement and also creating looks for the tour. But I do have a desire to do films. My dream would be to work with Tim Burton. I’d love in a world of fantasy like Avatar, really pushing the envelope. Period pieces are also a draw to me because they’re so elaborate and detailed.
But I love what I do because it’s such team genius. It’s a blessing to be a costume designer/stylist and play fashion therapist.
Any big surprises to expect in tonight’s finale?
It’s all a big secret. I’m excited for Lee and Crystal; it’s great to see a girl up there.
-- Melissa Magsaysay
Photos: (left) Adam Lambert. Credit: Frank Micelotta / FOX. (center) Soyon An. Credit: Collin Stark. (right) Lil Rounds. Credit: Michael Becker / Associated Press