Farida's Folkloric Costume Designs for Stage

Introduction to New Costume Designs
by Farida Fahmy

translation by Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin Download

In 1959 was a whole new approach to making dance costumes for the stage was set in motion. The period of my early years as a young woman who was raised to savor all that was Egyptian, and the experience that I gained during the years spent in the Reda Troupe have been a great asset to me. Considerable changes have taken place in Egypt. Economic, social and external influences have brought about many transformations in what Egyptians now wear both in urban and rural societies. My point of reference to most of these designs is approximately the first half of the 20th century.  


During my travels these last few years, I have seen dance groups that have performed dances that were in the Reda Troupe style yet the costumes did not match up or relate to these dances. While there were dance groups that showed serious attempts at presenting the appropriately corresponding styles of costumes, others were quite oblivious to what was relevant to the dances they were presenting.  I know that there are many serious dancers and dance groups all over the world that truly want to know and find the correct and well made versions. Through no fault of their own, they only know, buy or copy what is available to them these days. I am also certain that there are those who have the desire, initiative and are capable of making their own costumes if they are shown new and simple designs.

There are in Egypt dress designers who only specialize in belly dance costumes, many of whom produce exquisite costumes. On the other hand, there has been a complete lack of interest and incompetence in making new and relevant versions of the costumes that were originally designed for the theatrical presentations of the Reda Troupe. This is either because there is a lack of skillful seamstresses or because it is uneconomically feasible. Sadly, what little costumes offered have been completely distorted by the taste of night club dancers, as well as the indifference of the venders of the bazaar in the souqs. I have kept in mind that the costumes maintain the main features of the original yet are easy to make with available materials that are not costly. However, if there is a need to have them made in Egypt, there might be very few well acclaimed dressmakers who might be interested. Please be aware that there are many others who have recently entered this lucrative profession and who will claim to know what they are doing and end up with complete disasters.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind. When choosing one color for group dances, introducing different shades of the same color adds richness to the total scene. If a different color for each dancer is preferred, then colors should be in the same tones, all pastel or all in bright colors. Striking colors such as bright reds or oranges should be avoided or worn by solo dancers. When prints or designs are used they should not be overpowering, nor should they be too small to be seen from the stage. Shiny materials reflect the stage lighting and tend to make the wearer larger than she really is.  Intricate bead work is beautiful for floor shows and films, but not necessary for solo or group dancers on a theatre stage, as they cannot be seen from a distance.

Preferably, materials should be soft but not too limp, hangs well but not too heavy. The Materials chosen should suit the style of dress and should lend itself to the movement and fall in flowing lines or folds. The description of the type of jewelry of each group of costumes is intended as a guideline for those who wish to put together their own copy.


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Farida's Folkloric Theatre Style genre costume E-Books are full colour and each e-book contains
between 8 and 12 costume designs created and hand-drawn by Farida, many used in the Reda Troupe.

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Fallahat designs $10
Al Haggalah designs $10
Milayah designs $10
Nubian designs $10

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Sayidi designs $10
Muwashahat Dresses $10
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Looking for Modern Designs?

Vintage Costume Artistry E-book.
Farida's fresh costume drawing designs created in 2014, over 80 new designs!
Elegant Baladi, Classical dresses, Ghawazee styles, Contemporary, Rom-style, Tribal inspired, Flapper inspired, Elemental themes and more

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