Dec. 14, 2012
With a background in designing tours and performance outfits for Kanye, Gnarls Barkley and Rihanna, Costume Designer Erin Hirsh knows that on NBC’s hit vocal competition show, it’s not just about the voice. It is Hirsh’s job to help create the overall image, derived from both the individual and their vocal talents, and do it all for each episode in under 36 hours! “The contestants’ wardrobe is really an expression of their personal evolution,” Hirsh explains. “They have to be open to change and not afraid to step outside their comfort zone to survive in this talent competition.”
It’s important that by the time contestants get to the live rounds, Hirsh has a clear idea of what works best on each individual’s body, and what their likes and dislikes are. From there, she can help “transition them.” Song choice and choreography drive Hirsh in setting a particular mood and tone for each performance. Once the show reaches live rounds and the number of participants is whittled down to 12, she has a much clearer idea of contestants’ respective personalities and what will translate best, both on-stage and on-screen. She then creates an “inspiration/style one sheet” for each of the remaining contestants. The one sheets are handed over to her shoppers to give them a clear reference and to communicate her vision for each contestant.
Among Hirsh’s favorite elements to incorporate are leather, rhinestones, sequins and studs. She also makes sure to give all female contestants a statement ring or bracelet, depending on which hand they hold the microphone with. Hirsh gives credit to Kim Cyre, her on-set pattern maker and seamstress, for turning looks around on a tight schedule—sometimes overnight. In addition to dressing the individual contestants, Blake Shelton, and Christina Milian, she works with the celebrity coaches (namely Cee Lo and Christina Aguilera) who like to give their input when it comes to what their contestants are wearing. For the most part Hirsh works directly with contestants to ensure that their look complements their song choice and that they look and feel their best. This season Hirsh has especially enjoyed working with Nicholas David and Cassadee Pope, two of the three finalists. “Nicholas David loves texture and color. You see him in a lot of shirts and jackets with traditional 70s collars, so to add more depth I like to play with all the different patterns or sometimes I’ll change the lapels to give him a slightly more modern flare,” Hirsh says. “For Cassadee, I really enjoy playing with her silhouette. For the semi-finals, I put her in a long pink beaded gown and she looked stunning.”
Tune in to the Season 3 finale of “The Voice” Tuesday, Dec. 18th to see who wins.