By Rachelle Hughes
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–Playful, glamorous and dramatic, the Eletra Casadei Fashion Show and Luncheon at Southern Utah Museum of Art this past week showcased the Casadei dress designs and fabrics as seen in James Bond movies, on Dynasty actors, 1980s prom fashionistas, in Hollywood, and on Southern Utah University theater students.
The fashion show raised scholarship funds for the SUU College of Performing and Visual Arts while paying homage to Eletra Casadei’s legacy. Eletra’s sister Andrea Casadei, who worked for Eletra for 15 years as her assistant, says that her sister did not just design dresses, she also designed her own fabrics and laces to create her own unique lines. “She was a brilliant mind. She was a phenom,” Andrea said.
This fashion show itself was all about Casadei’s textures and the “emotional experience” Casadei said her designs invoke. As Casadei said, “Women don’t do anything boring in my dresses.” To prove that point show director Wendy Sanders and choreographer Michael Crotty made the fashion show more than a walk down the catwalk. There was dancing, laughing, swooning, singing as the 18 models sashayed down the catwalk. Joining featured models Ellen Treanor, Maile Wilson and Aimee Uchman, models were chosen from a local casting call. Each of the show sections featured something a little different, whether it was showcasing Casadei’s sophisticated prom designs that launched her company, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the movement and drape of her lace and beading or the SUU ‘s theatre costume costumes created using her fabrics.
When Eletra Casadei died from brain cancer 2008 she left behind a warehouse full of fabrics, hand beaded trims, laces and more. When Eletra’s sister Andrea traveled to Cedar City to visit a friend, she brought some samples to try and find a buyer for some of the famous Casadei fabrics. Instead she discovered a theater department and students at SUU who were so grateful for the opportunity to see and use these fabrics that in 2012 Andrea decided to donate three trucks full of material and sewing machines to be used in costumes for SUU’s productions. The first production to see designs using these donations was SUU’s “Little Women.” So, Eletra’s work found new life in these burgeoning artists’ creations.
Eletra and now Andrea’s legacy of art and giving continues at SUU. As part of the sold out fundraiser luncheon and fashion show, attendees were able to bid on silent auction items donated by local community members and the Eletra Casadei Estate. Proceeds will go towards the Eletra Casadei legacy scholarship. A Legacy of Love: The Thread That Binds Us exhibit exhibit can be seen at SUMA. For more information, visit www.suu.edu/suma