CEDAR CITY–Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) hosts “A Legacy of Love: The Thread That Binds Us,” an exhibition featuring the fashion designs of Eletra Casadei and her impact on the theatrical design and costumes of SUU Department of Theatre Arts & Dance. The exhibition is currently on display through Nov. 11. SUMA is free and open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. It is located at 13 S. 300 West in Cedar City.
L.A. fashion designer Eletra Casadei was an innovative and favored designer generating buzz with her TD4 (To Die For) prom dress designs created with teenage girls’ desires in mind, “prom parties” to kick off the fashion season, first-of-its-kind fashion videos showcasing her elegant gowns and original beaded and lace fabric designs. Her Casadei line embodied Eletra’s true fashion philosophy; to create a sense of Hollywood Glamour that was affordable and made every woman feel beautiful.
Eletra passed away from brain cancer in 2008 leaving behind her fashion label and a studio stocked full of exquisite items. Eletra’s sister, Andrea, took charge of these treasures, searching for the perfect place to continue Eletra’s legacy.
A chance meeting occurred in the spring of 2012 in Cedar City, Utah, between Andrea and Deborah Snider, SUU Assistant Professor of Art. Andrea said, “It was so unexpected that I would meet her at the perfect moment, inside of a fabric store I typically wouldn’t find myself in. It wasn’t too long before Deb introduced me to Wendy Sanders, an amazing designer who runs the [SUU Department of Theatre Arts & Dance] costume shop. Between these two women and myself, we decided to have [Wendy’s] students come over to my storage unit to potentially purchase some of the things I had for their upcoming show.”
One thing led to another and soon one show turned into many. Through Andrea’s enthusiastic giving, the SUU Department of Theatre Arts & Dance received from Eletra’s studio yards and yards of stunning fabric and trim, bins of Eletra’s originally designed beaded fabrics and appliques, industrial sewing machines and equipment, a vast collection of fashion history books, and boxes of sewing notions. Over the last five years, students have been able to design and construct costumes beyond what would have been possible on a typical university production budget.
Eletra was not only an exquisite designer, but a consummate educator, always taking young designers under her wing to mentor or finding time to teach at Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design. It is, therefore, most fitting that her legacy be continued at an institution of higher learning.
Andrea said, “I know, without question, that Eletra would be so very proud of all that SUU has done for their students and the freedom that Wendy Sanders has allowed them to have while working with all the beautiful things I was able to provide. Together we have bound the love of design from one gifted talent to so many others.”
For more information about A Legacy of Love: The Thread That Binds Us, please visit www.suu.edu/suma.