The Grammys are this weekend and along with all the red carpet style, you can count on the stage performances having some major moments too. Some costumes are gorgeous, others are scandalous, but it’s all always just a little over-the-top and made for a specific purpose: to shock and delight us. Designer Marco Marco has worked with mega popstars (do the names Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Iggy Azalea, or Jennifer Lopez ring a bell?) and now, he’s answering my questions about what goes into all that gorgeous stuff.
Glamour: What’s been your favorite piece that you’ve worked on so far?
Marco Marco: Whatever I’ve just completed is always my favorite. I’m totally fickle and forget about everything I’ve ever done as soon as I’m doing something new.
Glamour: What was the trickiest thing you’ve ever done, whether while planning or actually constructing?
MM: Years ago when I was working for the Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.am wanted subwoofers that would turn into “robot” dancers in a Transformers kind of way. I had to develop a way that the dancers could fit into these speaker boxes and break into androids without interrupting the choreography. Many cardboard boxes were harmed in the making.
Glamour: Anything that looked simple but was actually tricky?
MM: We’ve been making these chiffon and organza tops for Florence Welch that look fairly simple, but take an extremely patient hand and a high level of technical ability. Other than that, I would say that the most hair-pulling happens with dancer costumes, which are often just as intricate if not more than the artist’s, but get no real air time.
Glamour: What’s your role in the artist’s total process, whether for a music video or a performance?
MM: Every artist has her own version of the creative process. Typically, I come into it after they have an aesthetic direction, and it’s my task to interpret their concepts into illustrations, and eventually, reality. With tours, I’m brought in much earlier as there are so many more costumes and a lot more logistics in terms of changes and times. With videos, there’s always a stylist who is coordinating all of the looks for everything and then I’m asked to make a specific piece.
Glamour: Any tricks you’ve used for a costume that looks risqué, but is never at risk of anything falling out or flipping up?
MM: We use a variety of different fabrics that are extremely sheer or flesh-like in order to mimic skin in places where we can’t have the real thing. Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s “Black Widow” performance looks used these techniques.
Glamour: What’s your background?
MM: I received a bachelor’s in theatrical design with an emphasis in props and costumes from Cal Arts. When I moved out to LA I had a small custom boutique where I got a lot of experience with different body types. Eventually, I got into television and commercials and started working for American Idol. That is where I fell in love with the music industry and making costumes for musical performances.
Glamour: Do you watch concerts or shows with pieces you’ve designed?
MM: I never watch anything more than once and I always try to watch from a television or screen so I can see it the way it’s going to be seen by everyone else, even if I’m backstage or on set. I’m pretty emotionless until it’s done. Anything can happen from the time you start until they walk on stage. I’ve made hundreds of things that never ended up making it all the way through the process, so the first and only time I allow myself to get excited about a piece is the moment they step out in it and there’s no turning back.
Have you seen any concerts with costumes that were particularly fantastic?
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