Dance gear once meant leotards and tights, at least in rehearsals. Yet showtime meant lame, tutus, sequins. One didn't dash to the store while in a dance costume.
On MTV's Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew Thursdays, Kara Saun takes what could be ordinary street wear and tweaks it until it's extraordinary dancewear.
Kara Saun, who uses both names all the time, works constantly and doesn't disclose her age, is a friendly woman. While the rest of the country was tuned in to Super Bowl pregame shows, she chatted on her cell and scoped out stores in the Glendale (Calif.) Galleria.
"I would go to the far end of the Earth to find what I need," says the designer who first gained notoriety in the debut season of Project Runway.
She has brought her creations to Eve, What I Like About You and The Sing-Off, and she designs for as many as 70 people on the MTV dance contest.
"The funny thing about the show is I know the themes before the crews do, so I get started in advance in order to create a look or theme, I have to know who they are as a crew. Before the show even starts, I talk to them as a crew; even though I create the looks for them, I have to make sure it is something they would wear and their style."
Considering this season's competition began with 15 crews of five to seven people, Kara Saun is constantly on the prowl for pieces, which she then uses as a basis for designs.
She buys some gear at The Attic in Buena Park.
"A lot of dancers go there," she says. "They have the latest designs."
Companies such as Nike send her samples, but Kara Saun also uses clothes from new firms such as Wild Child.
"They have great gear for dancers and for everybody," she says.
"Even though we buy things that companies ship us, the things you see on-screen are not how the companies shipped it," she says.
One of the tricks of designing for dancers is making sure the clothes have enough give.
"You have to find things that move well," she says. "It's really important when designing a dance show. They are on the floor; there's a jump rope crew."
For instance, she and her crew of eight will add stretchy material under the arms so dancers can move freely. She buys fabric at Mood, F&S Fabric, Michael Levine Inc. and ISW.
Moving like a dancer takes years of practice, but dressing like one is relatively easy. Kara Saun recommends using lots of color and mixing up styles.
"Get some fun shoes, add different elements to the outfits," she says. "How can you make it your own?"