Dancing With The Stars costume queen Niamh O’Connor says the secret to style success is comfort


The Dancing With The Stars costume queen says the secret to her style is comfort.

Style guru Niamh O’Connor – a former Riverdancer – is the stylist behind the celebrity looks on the RTE show.

She revealed how comfort is the most important factor when it comes to dressing stars for the dance floor.

Niamh said, “Celebrities aren’t professional dancers and it’s our job to make them feel as comfortable as possible so they don’t have to worry about clothes and can focus on their performance and dance.

“Making them feel comfortable is our main goal.

“They need to be able to move and feel good on the dance floor.”

At the same time, Niamh – along with fellow costume supervisor Monica Ennis and the rest of the design team – knows the importance of getting the perfect look.

Costume supervisor for Dancing With The Stars Niamh O’Connor in her costume studio in Dublin city center

Niamh O’Connor and Padraic Moyles – Riverdance

Niamh O’Connor is second from right in this photo from Riverdance

Niamh said: “Celebrities are able to embrace dance more when they have the perfect costume – it allows them to get into character.

“They love the glitz and the glamor – it makes them feel like a real dancer for the night.”

She has a warehouse full of clothes in Fonthill in Dublin to dress celebrities like this year’s Grainne Seoige, Aengus Mac Grianna, Nina Carberry and Nicolas Roche.

Niamh added: “I have rails and rails of outfits – I have my sequin jackets and shirts on one rail, the ball gowns and feathers on another and the sparkly latin dresses on another.

“There are skirts in every color and leopard prints, flowers and sequins galore.”

She revealed that men’s outfits take the most time. Stunning dresses for women are the easy part, because they are ordered from a specialized company.

She revealed: “A lot of the dresses are from a company called DSI in London who also supplied them for Strictly Come Dancing. We collect the dresses and customize them so they’re not exactly the same – we change pieces to suit the dancer.

“However, the menswear look involves creating 12 entirely new outfits every week.

“Matching men can be tricky. The biggest challenge I have is to dress them in color to match the woman’s dress.

Costume supervisor for Dancing With The Stars Niamh O’Connor in her costume studio in Dublin city center

Costume supervisor for Dancing With The Stars Niamh O’Connor in her costume studio in Dublin city center

“We buy the men’s outfits on the high street or online from places like ASOS. The colors of women’s dresses are so beautiful and vibrant that it’s hard to match this with high street looks.

“We buy stretch fabrics for the men, so they can dance freely, and then we customize them with embellishments like added stones or braids.

“We often took the sleeves off – again, to move. For example, when Matthew McNabb was dancing to the song Skater Boy, we bought him a denim jacket from Zara and cut off the sleeves, then painted the back with colors to match his dance partner Laura’s dress.

She explained that the outfits go up on mannequins, where the male and female looks are “married.”

Then they can be changed until show time on Sunday evening.

Niamh added, “Getting items can take time and we might do it over the weekend. Once I saw them on camera in rehearsal, I could say, “Okay, he needs more pink, or she needs more embellishments.”

Erica Cody’s striking neon-lime two-piece was a last-minute change.

Erica Cody and Denys Samson during the Dancing With The Stars live show

Niamh revealed, “We had her in another neon dress and changed this one on Sunday night.

“The way she moved in the dance, we could see that she needed more movement.

“The color on her was absolutely amazing, so youthful and vibrant.”

Another favorite was Neil Delamere’s costume, when he did the first dance on opening night. She added: “He was dancing the paso doble so we put him in a cropped sequin blazer and added shoulder pads and stones.

“We used some of the matching fabrics from her dress in her jacket. He embraced the drama.

Comedian Neil Delamere and Kylie Vincent on Dancing With The Stars

Niamh also liked Nina Carberry’s sexy look for the rumba in week three, which matched the sensual dance script and showed how her body moved.

Grainne Seoige’s red dress for her paso doble while dancing Devil Woman was chosen to reflect her fiery personality. She started the dance by throwing on a blue cape, which was a nod to her loss of her “ice queen” image. Niamh said Nicolas Roche is a joy to dress.

She added: “He’s ready for anything, he’s like, ‘Go for it!’ Even the first week, he went with the sequin pants and the sheer mesh top.

Costume supervisor for Dancing With The Stars Niamh O’Connor in her costume studio in Dublin city center

TV presenter Grainne Seoige and John Nolan during Dancing With The Stars

“He will wear whatever it takes for the number. He’s a gentleman and he’s in fantastic shape.

The team turned rugby player Jordan Conroy and his dance partner Salome Chachua into cowboys.

Rugby 7s Jordan Conroy and Salome Chachua during the Dancing With The Stars live show

Niamh added, “She wore a monochrome chiffon skirt without the underlay, which gave her a modern and fresh look. Next, we added sequin fringe. Jordan wore a stretchy black shirt and we added silver fringe and collar tips and a cowboy belt.

Niamh knows how to best dress for the dance floor – as she was a professional dancer herself, performing with Riverdance for 20 years.

She added, “As a dancer myself, I understand what is needed on the dance floor.”

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