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Samia Gamal – Hollywood Vs. Personal Style

Stop the Presses: Samia Gamal Covered Her Belly Button!!

Have you ever considered how your design brief impacts the final look of a costume? Wait, you might be wondering what is a “design brief?” The design brief is a written description of the project. This includes the scope, style, budget, deliverables, and deadlines. Professional costume designers use the design brief to guide their choices and workflow. The directions mapped out in the brief shape the outcome of the finished look.

Comparing two Samia Gamal Costumes

To see how the design brief impacts costume design, let’s compare and contrast two images of the same dancer in costumes designed for different purposes. 

These two costumes, worn by legendary Egyptian dancer Samia Gamal, had two different design briefs that result in a major difference between the two ensembles. Can you spot the big difference? 

Samia in Valley of the Kings c.1954 (Left)

On the left, we know the costume designer and the purpose for this look. It was made by the costuming department of MGM under the direction of American designer Walter Plunkett. The movie, “Valley of the Kings,” was shot on location in Egypt. However, the ensembles were all designed in the US. Following the film mores of the day, Samia’s belly button had to be concealed, resulting in a higher belt that swoops up at the center. The design brief required that her costume, “Covered that belly button!”

Samia, World Tour c. 1952 (Right)

On the right is a photo of Samia in one of her own costumes. While we don’t know who designed this particular costume, we do know that Samia worked with a wide variety of costumers and design houses in Cairo over the course of her career. 

When she appeared on stage at Miami’s “Latin Quarter” nightclub in 1952, she was wearing a costume that she selected and styled to her taste. This is her personal choice and reflects her own style and image.

This is just one slide from the upcoming slide talk “The Design Code” with me! Come join us for a discussion of professional costuming skills, the guiding principles and elements of design, and the process designers use to move from concept to finished costume. Hosted by Mahin on April 24, 2022.

Maybe I’ll see ya there?
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
April 2, 2022

PS: If you register for the workshop before April 27, get a bonus digital copy of my workbook, “Color Theory with Pencils and Mandalas.”

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