THE LEGACY OF ELETRA CASADEI
A MINI-FASHION SHOW PRIOR TO SUU’s PRODUCTION
OF CHICAGO THE MUSICAL
FEBRUARY 8 & 9, 2013 ONLY
Photo credits: Eletra Casadei. Courtesy of Andrea Casadei
Heather Childs modeling an Eletra Casadei gown. Photo: Asher J. Swan
Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah: SUU’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance has acquired a substantial collection of clothing, fabrics and designs from the estate of the late fashion designer Eletra Casadei. To celebrate her legacy, there will be a mini-fashion show of Casadei’s work, giving a sneak peek and introduction to her collections at the February 8 and 9 performances of CHICAGO the Musical at the Randall L. Jones Theatre in Cedar City. The curtain time for the fashion show is 7pm, and the curtain time for the musical is 7:30pm.
Admission to the fashion show is free for non-CHICAGO ticket holders but requires seating in the theatre’s mezzanine and once the fashion show ends, exiting the theatre. CHICAGO ticket holders may view the fashion show from the orchestra level.
This mini-fashion show is the first preview of SUU’s newly acquired collection of Eletra Casdei’s fashion, fabrics and fabulous trims. According to Wendy A. Sanders, Costume Designer and Assistant Professor at SUU, “this fashion show is the first unveiling of the Casadei Collection here at SUU in a three-year plan. In year two there will be a Department of Theatre Arts & Dance production featuring Eletra Casadei’s amazing clothes, and in the third year, there will be a full-scale fundraising fashion extravaganza of the Casadei Collection, the proceeds of which will set up a scholarship fund for theatre design students.”
Eletra Casadei (1953-2008) was one of the first Los Angeles designers of her generation to gain a national reputation for something other than swimwear. She claimed old Hollywood glamour as her inspiration and fantasy dresses at affordable prices as her niche. In the late 1970s, she introduced her TD-4 (To Die For) line for customers ages 14 and up. The popularity of the line led her to launch a second collection, Casadei. Throughout the 1980s, Casadei's collections were carried in some 7,000 boutiques and department stores, most of them ranging from $100 to $400. Dresses from her collections turned up on sitcoms and soaps such as Golden Girls and Dynasty. Casadei's best advertisements were the two fashion-music videos she created in the mid-1980s, using dresses from her latest collection, which played in stores and wholesale showrooms as well as on MTV. Her other videos include Prom Night, featured a soundtrack with music by Dion and the Belmonts, and a TD-4 video featuring Al Jarreau’s “L Is for Lover” and Steve Windwood’s “Higher Love.”
Casadei was born in the east San Francisco Bay community of Hayward. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, majoring in business administration. Her career began as a store buyer, but she taught herself the skills of fashion design and opened a business office in downtown Los Angeles. Casadei scaled back her operation in the '90s, but began creating one-of-a-kind pieces for celebrities. In addition, she started creating custom interior design work and opened her own boutique in the Pacific Palisades. In the early part of the new century, she became known for her remakes of the most popular celebrity dresses at the Academy Award shows. Her version of the vintage Valentino gown that actress Julia Roberts wore in 2001 sold for $169. Late in her career, she designed under the Casadei by Eletra Casadei label, and sold ready-to-wear styles and custom-order clothes.
Andrea Casadei, spokesperson for the Eletra Casadei estate, is so pleased that her sister’s legacy will continue at SUU. “Eletra was a creative genius and a designer who truly knew how to accentuate the beauty of a woman. For 30 years, she was transforming women every time they wore her designs. Her artwork and placement of her beading combined with her talent for blending colors was phenomenal. To this day, when a woman wears a Casadei design it truly is an emotional experience. It is my greatest wish for her legacy to continue to inspire young people in different areas from clothing design to stage productions for years to come.”
Each year, the College of Performing and Visual Arts (CPVA) bestows a series of scholarships to SUU students in the areas of art, theatre, dance and music. There are currently scholarship funds for technical theatre and design students which enable them to continue their studies and help them to reach their goals of becoming professionals in the theatre. Patrons can support their fledging talent by making a generous donation to CPVA Scholarship Fund. To make a contribution to the CPVA Scholarship Fund, please contact Donna Law, Director of Development: CPVA, at 435-865-8182 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Tickets for CHICAGO the Musical are now on sale. Prices are: $10 General Admission; $8 SUU Faculty/Staff, $5 Youth and free for SUU students with a valid ID. For tickets, call (435) 586-7872, Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm, or purchase at the Centrum Arena box office. Tickets may be purchased online at www.suu.edu/arts.