Marc Bouwer Talks Ritz and Glitz For Shania Twain’s Vegas Show Costumes
Just call Shania Twain the rhinestone cowgirl. To get the full rundown on every detail of Twain’s seven sparkling costumes in her “Shania: Still the One” show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, I went straight to the sources, first using insight I gained from my prior interview with Twain.
“My favorite one is probably the opening number,” Twain says. “Overall I think that’s my favorite because I love the glitz of it, and that I can still wear it at this point in my life. I’m getting closer to 50 all the time so it feels really great to be able to wear that still. It always sets the show off, I feel good in it… I’m not so sure I’m even looking to change [any costumes], because I like them and I’m happy with the fashion direction we’re in.”
I followed up with a backstage tour in the top-security wardrobe area to see each creation and speak to personal dresser Glynda Conway, who gave me the scoop on each look:
The opening look is spectacular, and every costume has so much detail.
On it is a complete assortment of crystals. This takes a lot of maintenance so every day we go over it with a fine tooth comb. All her boots were custom made by LaDuca, so they are reinforced, sturdy, dance shoes, perfect fit and perfect height for her. The leopard shoes are actually lined and made out of the same silk fabric as the rest. Her black gloves started off as original gloves and we added beads and stones. Our job is never ending, each stone that comes off, we put two on.
What is her fastest change?
Going into her leopard outfit, only because there is so much to put on. It’s right at a two minute costume change, but she is coming out of all her western stuff with the boots and jeans, and I have to get her dressed, get her cape, plus get it pinned, get it wrapped, and then she’s got the gloves and boots, and the luggage. It took a while to get a rhythm down, it’s basically choreographed, plus she has hair and makeup touch ups in there with us.
Have there been any funny wardrobe moments since the show started?
The funny one she talks about is she was already loaded up on the motorcycle going up into the sky right before the show starts, because that’s her grand entrance, and she had her retainer still in her mouth. She was reaching down as the motorcycle was going up and she didn’t want to throw it or drop it, and I was in the wings jumping to try to get the retainer.
Any other secrets you can share?
The trick with the hat—you have to catch it. In “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” she starts off the number with a top hat and then she throws it. Whoever catches it hopefully reads it and security brings them down and does a meet and greet and she signs autographs and they take a picture.
I then jumped on the phone with Twain’s right hand wardrobe man, Marc Bouwer, who designed and crafted all of them. He gave me an inside peek at his 15-year working relationship with Twain and his design process.
When did you first meet Shania?
I worked with her on the “VH1 Divas Live” thing and then when it came down to that particular video, “From This Moment,” I was asked to dress her and that’s when our friendship really started.
Why do you think you guys formed such a bond right away?
I think she could see I was really personally involved in how she looked and I really cared about the overall look of the video, and her image. I sat there the entire time in front of the camera and the director and fixed her. She liked the insight into what was a very, very important time in her career. I think Shania is the kind of person, that once she kind of finds something that works well for her she likes to stick with it. She’s very loyal that way.
So obviously when it came time to do the Vegas show, she called you…
I did seven videos with her and they are the most memorable ones, I think. When we spoke about the Vegas show she wanted to bring those looks to life on a much bigger, grander scale as well as create a show around her hits. She asked me “how can we not lose the identity of the costumes we created that are so iconic in relation to the videos, but make them more grand and extravagant?” I was her go-to person. I worked with her on so many different projects. Not only did I do videos, I did personal appearances, tours, red carpets and I’d flown with her all over the world. We really have a trusting, good relationship.
Can you take me through your design process when you started to work on these costumes?
For the opening scene, I’d done that video “I’m Gonna Getcha.” I came up with a very embellished gunmetal catsuit that’s tiger striped and also has a lacy look to it. The next one was the cowboy scene, and it was brand new, not from a video, and was a challenge because she wanted to do a medley of her country hits, so I created this patchwork coat all done by hand. It’s probably the most intricate thing I did for the show. When she rides on stage in that outfit with the cowboy hat on she gets almost a standing ovation just from that. Then she dances in it and she takes it off and there’s Marilyn Monroe high-waisted denim pants with pink cowboy boots and a beaded plaid wrap shirt.
Then the next one is the iconic leopard look, and that one she shot in the desert and the original outfit was done in the velvet. I said to keep the hood and the leopard but make it out of ultra-lightweight silk, with a really multicolored, beautiful swing top and wide leg pajama pants.
The campfire scene was hard because she wanted to look very casual, because this is when she’s interacting with her fans, sitting around talking about her life. Then she came up with an off the shoulder drapey top with all the embellished stones and then some cutoff pair of jeans and Moccasin boots.
The ballad scene was the most difficult scene to do in the show. I’m known for doing these beautiful gowns and we wanted to do something totally fantastic for this scene for “Still the One” and “From This Moment.” What we had to do is take a really simple dress, then we created all these add-ons, a jacket and cuffs, which takes that dress to a whole other level. For “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” we recreated it, but the dress is all hand-beaded. For the finale bow I made her a biker jacket that had the big gold S on the back.
What would you like to see her in next?
She has been through so many incarnations with looks, she is capable of doing anything. My favorite look on her is ultra-sexy, beautiful gowns, so I’d like to see more of that, but I like her in the tough looks as well. When we work on a new project together she sends me the lyrics to the songs first, or a rough cut and lets me write a treatment. We have a really great collaboration and a good synergy between the two of us.