Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A CUT ABOVE: Designing costumes for Alice: The Musical, Ayanna Dixon brings a fresh twist to fantasy

SKETCH ARTIST: You've got to understand the importance of being part of a creative team.“ Below: Alice design illustrations by Chin-Yee and Dixon.

The forthcoming Jamaica Junior Theatre production of Alice: The Musical draws on the talents of a diverse and lavishly talented behind-the-scenes team, not the least of which are the show’s costume designers, Carolyn Chin-Yee and Ayanna Dixon, who is making her debut as a wardrobe mistress of note. 

The fantasy-driven storyline, based on the classic fairy-tale of Alice in Wonderland, has allowed Dixon, a Mission Catwalk alum, to tap into her own visions of magic and whimsy to craft eye-popping pieces (with a touch of the dramatic) that will shimmer under the bright lights of UWI Mona’s Philip Sherlock Centre when the curtains go up on January 4. “Working with Chin-Yee has been a wonderful experience,” Dixon tells TALLAWAH over the phone. “She told me what her vision was, I read the script, and then I put together some ideas, and then we came together and discussed what we found. It’s been a great learning opportunity, as well.” 

Dixon, who’s been making a name for herself in local style and fashion circles (with a rapidly expanding high-end clientele) ever since her first runner-up stint on the fashion reality series, will be the first to tell you that there’s a solid line between costume design and working in couture. “Designing costumes is totally different from designing for fashion because the performers have quick changes to make,” she explains. “So you have to decide how best to craft the pieces and whether they should have things like Velcro openings and closures, etc.” 

Challenges aside, in the end they came up with a vibrant array of outfits for the group of some 50-odd performers. “We designed for the whole cast, and worked with the props people also. We did the actors’ outfits, the dance outfits. If a particular character needed something to wear, we created a design for it.” 

Meanwhile, Dixon, who has roots in musical theatre (having appeared in three JMTC productions), says she wouldn’t mind becoming a regular costume collaborator on future shows. “I was a part of the JMTC productions for three years, so I understand the importance of being part of a creative team, and I wouldn’t mind giving back to a company that did a lot for me.” 

As for 2013, the 24-year-old has a lot to look forward, including continuing her work with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), where she teaches workshops to micro-business owners. She’s also set her sights on having her fashion pieces grace the racks of boutiques across the Caribbean. “Personally, I want to keep flourishing. I know I told you last year that I wanted to be in stores regionally, but I wasn’t able to fulfill that,” Dixon says. “So now I definitely want to be in stores across the region. So that’s the main focus, and just getting the ASD brand out there some more.”

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