Legendary singer Dionne Warwick is no stranger to putting on glitzy gowns and outfits; she even launched a fitness line with her daughter in 2015. But this year, Warwick was featured on Fox’s “The Masked Singer” in an outfit unlike one she had ever worn before.
For the third season of the secret celebrity singing competition, Warwick slipped into a mouse costume, complete with a full head-covering mask, which came from costume designer Marina Toybina.
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The costume consisted of a flowery sparkly dress with a flower crown that matched the blooms on the gown. The feminine theme of the dress oozed glitz and glam paired with the luscious and long eyelashes that hinted to the persona of the celebrity.
Toybina has been creating the contestants’ costumes since the inception of the U.S. version of the show, and always sketches “20 or so” ideas before the casting process begins. She shows those sketches to the producers, as well as the network, and then once the show has been cast, contestants get a look at a few of them.
In Warwick’s case, the singer says, “Those that were in charge decided the mouse would be the best outfit for me.”
But, after seeing the sketch, she admits she fell in love with “that little mouse.” She adds: “I felt it was so elegant and represented what Dionne Warwick should be.”
Once the gown was decided on, Warwick and Toybina discussed how the costume would function. The key to the collaboration was creating a garment that was comfortable for Warwick, who would be moving around the stage and singing live underneath that mask. The costume evolved from a ballerina-type with a tutu gown to an enchanted magical mouse.
“It made more sense for who Dionne is,” Toybina explains. “Part of the fitting process that we do early on was about Dionne getting accustomed to the mask, which is made from a helmet structure and the rest of the material is lightweight foam.”
That first fitting was important to address fit and fears. Warwick admits she was at first concerned about “the head and how it moves,” noting that she “had to see where I was going without falling off the stage.” But, “It came down to making the adjustment and keeping my head still so that it wouldn’t move about. I think a lot of it was in my subconscious, but those conversations with Marina and first fittings helped a lot.”
The rehearsal process put Warwick further at ease. Toybina used that time to make adjustments as well. “I lowered the eyes a little to give her better vision,” she says.
Toybina tailored the dress for Warwick using tulle, organza and silk chiffon to create the base and added French lace for a silhouette. Since it was a concern for Warwick, Toybina used rhinestones and beads for detail so that there wouldn’t be too much extra weight added to the costume.
“By keeping all of my fabrics, embroidery, beading and notions to a specific minimum, and using precise handwork to create most of the gown, I was able to control the design and build a very lightweight, functioning couture gown,” she says.
Although she was eliminated in the fifth episode, Warwick looks back on her time on the show as a fun one, noting her grandchildren were “so proud that I was on it.”
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