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Do you make accessories and other costume pieces?

I make excellent trumpet skirts, slit skirts, head pieces, arm pieces, and gauntlets, and I custom dye silk
veils.   In fact - every custom costume comes with a custom dyed silk veil to match as part of the ensemble.

Is there anything you don’t make?

I don't make cholis or gypsy style items.

How long have you been designing belly dance costumes?

I have been designing belly dance costumes since I started dancing in 2000, but my costume design
experience started several years before when  I began making historical clothing and doing costume
consulting for reenactment groups and period theatre in 1994.  In 1996, I started professionally designing
and constructing costumes for opera and stage and then film.  

Are all costumes custom made?

Everything is one-of-a-kind and almost everything is custom made.
Occasionally I have personal costumes or other costumes I have acquired which I sell ready made, but it is
not the focus of my business.

                                  In this segment the spotlight is on . . .
In addition to designing costumes, Eshta Amar may be the
reining queen of taking something ordinary and making it
extraordinary.  Are you getting bored with one of your old
costumes?  Did you see a costume you like, but it doesn’t have
enough pizzazz?   With some nips, tucks, embellishments, and
maybe some ruching and new accessories, Eshta will transform
your costume into a one of a kind masterpiece.  When she’s
done making her magic, you may not recognize your old
costume.   When we asked her about her costume design
business and design philosophy, here is what she told us:

What is your design philosophy?

It better look awesome, fabulous and over the top! Or else,
what is the point?

You can't just think about your costumes as just costumes . . .
they are an important part of your art.  It is what your audience
will sometimes remember more than your dancing. So why
would you wear something that isn't amazing? A wonderful
costume is a work of art in itself. A wonderful costume will be
remembered and talked about and enjoyed by many. It will also
have a higher resale value. And, you don't have to spend big
bucks to be fabulous. You just need the right design that
flatters you and adds to your dance, which is why you should
get a custom costume.

What type of costumes do you make?  

I make great bedlahs and spandex style costumes. I tend to shy
away from the long Egyptian style evening dresses because I
personally don't enjoy them and they are easy to come by. I do
heavily beaded and sequin costumes, asymmetrical designs,
ruffles, ruching, heavy rhinestone work, mesh designs and cut
outs.  I can also make folkloric costumes, but I prefer the glitzy
by Melia
Eshta Glendale, CA
This is the fourth part of our series focusing on our multi-faceted local belly dance costume designers.  
Where do you meet with customers?  

I prefer to have customers come to my home. All of my
design and sewing materials are at my home, so in essence
it is my studio.  Also, I have many pieces and fabrics at my
home, which may come into play as the customer and I are
discussing the design.  I am willing to go to a customer's
home, but it is important that they are serious because it
can be difficult to bring everything I might need with me.

Why did you start designing belly dance costumes?

Because when I started dancing I couldn't afford to buy
one!  I then realized that belly dance costumes were much
easier to make than period corsets, dresses or
farthingales. It was so simple for me to construct dance
costumes that I just went crazy making all kinds of bedlahs.
The response to my costumes was very positive. Everyone
liked them and the more I made the more I learned. Then I
went to Egypt, and although I was amazed by all the
costumes, many seemed to have a ready made feel to them
. . . they weren't as personal or unusual as I would have
liked.  Eman's costumes were my favorites and I have been
greatly inspired by her designs, but I couldn't afford them
myself at the time.  Every costume I brought back from
Egypt I modified or altered in some way. I had to get my
hands on them!  I wanted to take them to the next level.  

What is the average price range for your costumes?

That depends. If I am reworking something aesthetically
challenging that is already constructed, but is maybe not
working for my customer and has been hiding in the back
of her closet, it may cost as little as $150-$200, depending
on how much finishing and redecorating is required. If I am
making a folk costume (without a bra) it will be about $250 -
$300.  If I am making an Egyptian style spandex number with
slits and ruching, rhinestones and draping etc. - about
$300 - $400.  Anything more dramatic than that is higher.  It
all depends.  And, keep in mind, that is for the labor only -
not the materials.   I do accept payment plans and layaway.  
Most of my customers pay 1/2 up front plus a deposit on
materials, and the rest when they pick up.
To make an appointment with Eshta for a magical transformation of an existing costume, alterations or a one
of kind design, call 626-372-9263 or contact her via email at

Eshta is a frequent performer at showcases around the LA area and at private parties.  She also hosts the
showcase at
Club Cleopatra in Culver City the third Tuesday of every month.

If you missed Part 1 of this series on
Anja, Part 2 on Najah, Part 3 on Sandra Marshall, or Part 4 on Lori Flagg,
just click on their name to read the article.

How long does it generally take for a customer
to get a costume?

Again it depends on how elaborate the costume
is.  The average is about 2-3 months.

Is there anything else you think a prospective
customer should know?

I am very serious about designing a costume in
concert with a customer. We are going to spend
a minimum of 3 fittings with the costume plus a
lot of time wearing/making it and talking about it.
We have to both like and agree on the design.
The customer must be committed to having the
costume made and going through the process.
They must be willing to discuss the design and
how it looks honestly and with great objectivity. I
am not willing to make something that I think
would look bad. They have to be available for
fittings in person. I want them to LOVE their