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"Dancing With the Stars"-inspired dress collection will rumba to retail in late February

February 3, 2011 | 12:00 pm

Rage_DWTS_La Femme

Fashion-seeking fans of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" reality series will soon be able to kick up their heels in cocktail dresses and evening gowns inspired by the costumes that have been worn on the dance floor over the last couple of seasons.

The 30-piece collection, which is expected to retail at $348 to $598, is being produced under license by Los Angeles-based formalwear maker La Femme -- which has created dresses for, among others, the briefcase-toting bellesof NBC's "Deal or No Deal" -- and is expected to start hitting retail at the end of February, with the full range available by March 15. (The dresses will be available both online and through many of La Femme's department store and formalwear retail accounts.)

According to La Femme's chief executive, Michael Kasher, when the show's representatives approached him about the idea, he instantly fell in love with it. "They've had so many amazing dresses on the show over the years, this was a great opportunity to create a commercial version of what the team of designers on the show do."

But Kasher explained that fans shouldn't expect to find an exact replica of a particular foxtrot frock or pasodoble dress they've seen on the show -- that's where the "inspired by" part comes in.

Dwts2"We met a couple of times with [the show's costume designer] Randall Christiansen and the design team -- they have this massive design room that works around the clock making miracles happen -- but the difference is they're creating very specific outfits tailored to each individual and each dance -- for example, the strap on a one-shouldered dress might have to go over the left instead of the right shoulder because of the way a dance works, and the slit in a dress goes as high as it does because the dancer needs to move. ... What they’re doing there is so specific you could never retail anything exactly like that to the general public."

So instead, Kasher's crew stripped away the most theatrical, costume-like and technical aspects and focused on what he calls the "glamorous feeling" of the dresses. "It could be anything from the color to the beading or the fabrication."

The result is a collection full of flowing, floor-length jewel-tone evening gowns and mid-thigh cocktail dresses in fabrics like silk chiffon, silk satin and crystal organza. Some styles are backless, others have cut-outs or corset details. All are shot through with the show's signature style -- the sexy leg slit, the one-shoulder and intricate beading.

Although the show has been on the air for 11 seasons, and the debut spring-summer 2011 collection barely managed to mine the mambos and take from the tangos of the last several seasons, Kasher said the goal is for future collections to salsa in step with its new licensing partner's TV seasons. (No. 12 is scheduled to begin March 21.)

"Now that it's launching, we'd ideally like to have it sync with the show as much as possible."

Just a piece of friendly advice -- to both DWTS and La Femme -- don't let the ape suit from Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas' infamous Monkees' number ever see the light of day.

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photos: Looks from the 30-piece dress collection inspired by the costumes worn on the ABC reality series "Dancing With the Stars." Credit: La Femme

 

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