Erin Lareau, A Costume Designer with the Crystal Touch.

by moviestar couture on May 2, 2009

I met Erin, on a clear and beautiful day, at her property, overlooking the city of the Angels. Little did I know that stepping into Erin’s world is like entering a magic world of dazzle and shine, a crystal palace, where everywhere you turn, glitters. From the crystal path in the garden to the sparkly floor, to her studio, Erin’s world is a mesmerizing visual feast of art, glamour, and sparkling colorful reflections.

A former dancer and choreographer, Erin Lareau, is a multi-faceted Emmy Award Winning Costume Designer, and acclaimed Fine artist.
Possessing both fascination and gift for transformational art, Erin Lareau is also the artist creator behind the “Objets de Fantasie” – everyday and vintage objects paved with thousands of individually placed crystals, turning vintage cameras, computer mice, toasters, chairs, etc into unique works of art, glamorous masterpieces. “Rather than decorating with a few crystals I create a solid wall of shimmer.”

Erin’s “Objet de Fantasie” have been exhibited in many museums, such as The Orange County Museum of Art, The Peterson Automotive Museum, Long Beach Museum of Art, The Arclight Gallery, and lately an installation opening in May 2009 on Lankershim Boulevard, in North Hollywood art’s district, showcasing “Walk of the Glass Slippers” a series of three permanent six foot tall shoe sculptures.

Her dazzling work of art has been adopted, and commissioned by many celebrities including, Madonna, Elton John, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christina Aguilera, and have appeared in numerous shows like “Friends”, “Sex and the City”. She has been invited to participate with her pieces on several installations like the Swarovski pavilion for the Academy Awards, and her installations have been displayed in brand campaigns for prestigious names such as Tiffany & Co, and Neiman Marcus. In addition her work has also been part of philanthropic events and have helped to raise awareness of world causes in charity events such as Project Angel Food to name a few.

Let me introduce you to a real Hollywood trendsetter, Costume Designer Erin Lareau, whose story is as sparkling and multi-faceted as her art.

Globe by Erin Lareau from Fly HC on Vimeo.

Here is our conversation:

MM – Erin, tell me about your background, Where are you from? How did you end up here in Hollywood?
EL – I was born in Northern California, the daughter of two teachers. As a child I dreamed about traveling the world. My glamorous life, began on the stage, as a child, a dancer. I had my small town dancing class as a toddler, dropping ballet class at the ultra – sophisticated age of eight, but dabbling in folk dance, belly dance, junior cotillion in junior high and early high school. I then studied Environmental Studies in college and graduated early on the Dean’s List. I applied to law school.

MM – Law School, that’s interesting.
EL – But then something happened. I saw a jazz musical and was completely drawn in, completely entranced. I just wanted to do that, so I undertook to study jazz dance seriously for one year – as a graduation present to myself – pre- law school.

MM – What did your parents say?
EL – Oh – every single conversation with my parents contained the law school question – for years. Then, as a dancer I was offered a job in a movie and everything changed. Much to my parents dismay, the experience inspired me to move to LA to pursue professional dance. I figured, dance is a short career, law school could wait.

MM – So you moved to Los Angeles.
EL – Yes and my little girl dreams to go see the world began to come true. My first job took me to Japan, and after that I toured twenty countries. It’s the perfect way to spend your twenties. Performing and exploring in hundreds of cities, dancing on Broadway, Film and Television took me around the globe traveling with a pack of fun, creative people, window shopping and visiting art museums in my free time.

MM – That must have been fun.
EL – It was a blast. I worked on the movies “Grease”, “Staying Alive” the TV show “Dance Fever” and Broadway’s “Sugar Babies were a few highlights, along with “Dancin’ Machine” opening for Dean Martin and Ray Charles in Las Vegas.

MM – So from Vegas to LA, what happened?
EL – Then, not so suddenly, it was over. It came time to starting thinking about the next career. Law school was just not going to happen. I’d been spoiled forever by the fun and the creativity of the entertainment industry. After the rigors of professional dance, I wasn’t afraid of hard work, and over the years I developed another fascination.

MM – Costumes?
EL – I had the interest and the skills. When it was the time to make a change of direction, costumes became the natural choice. Dancers rehearse in black garb, in a bare room. A thousand times over I witnessed the transformational magic of costumes and lighting

MM – Quite a detour, how did you become a costume designer?
EL – My entrée into costume design came through styling commercials, over four hundred of them, working with scores of directors, including, Kenny Ortega and comedy director Christopher Guest. My colleagues from dance world enlisted me as well. Dancers are my sweet spot. I felt like I knew just what to do.
When a dance colleague recommended me for a PBS special. I jumped at the chance and was rewarded with an Emmy for Outstanding Costume Design for a Variety of Music Special 2006, for “Benise, Nights of Fire”. I also designed for sitcoms, and several series, beginning with Blossom, and Live shows, High School Musical, The Concert Tour and High School Musical The Ice Tour. I was at “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and have worked with hundreds of celebrities. Just now I am working with the Michael Jackson Tour upcoming in London.

MM – How you got here, is truly a Hollywood story. How did you start making your art?
EL – I was inspired by helping a close friend, and former professional clown with the Ringling Barnum and Bailey Circus, Keith Crary. We paved a pair of his clown shoes into a sparkling show piece. I was so taken by the effect of the paved shoes that I immediately began work on my first project.

MM – Which was?

EL – I began with a glass slipper, as I gave myself permission to make the most beautiful, extravagant, and magical things I could imagine, my childhood fantasy of living like a princess came true: My very own “Cinderella” glass slippers.

MM – What a great story, like a movie.

EL – It was then all like meant to be, really being in the right place, at the right time. As it happened with the debut of my vintage movie camera purse, “glamcam” carried by Jamie Lee Curtis at the Golden Globe Awards, and by nominee Rachel Griffths, at the Academy Awards.

The purse was named the “best purse of the evening” by the APA, and appeared in TV Guide, People, InStyle, The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly, Movieline, and the LA Times

MM – I remember that, it was quite a buzz.
EL – After The Academy Awards, I exhibited my work at art galleries, museums and at Tiffany & Co. It wasn’t long after that my works started to appear on the sets of TV shows including “Friends” “Dharma & Greg,” “Will & Grace” “Sex & the City” and “The Tonight Show”.

MM – I know that you have a lot of fans, many of them celebrities
EL – I have a lot of clients, from all over the world, many of them celebrities, such as Christina Aguilera, Elton John, Oprah, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Leno, Kate Hudson, and Madonna.

MM – I love your pieces, they are so unique and your technique – pave , is so perfect.
EL – It took me years to perfect the art of pave, and make my vision ready to share with the world. The ancient art of glass making is now in the machine age. To the naked eye, my crystal and titanium gems rival Faberge’s precious jewels, with all the magic of reflected color and light.

MM – What kind of crystals do you use?
EL – I use Swarovski crystals, they are the best quality and mostly the Aurora Borealis line because of the iridescence it makes the light twinkle. Each of the Aurora Borealis Crystals is gem-cut with twelve facets. Each of my “objets de fantasie” has three thousand to over sixty thousand stones, creating as many as half a million reflective planes.

MM – I love the motorized globe you have on your website.
EL – The piece you like is a 17” world globe, encrusted with 25,000 crystals, and is motorized so when it turns it’s reflecting light off 300,000 facets.

MM – Amazing. No wonder why it’s so magical, so much light, and color. Erin your work is fabulous, fit for a princess, really.
EL – Once upon a time, only the Czars could afford the shimmering radiance that is now part of our everyday life, for which I am deeply grateful

MM – How do people get your Objets de Fantasie?
EL – You can buy some pieces at Designed by Hollywood® -Store

MM – Thank you so much for sharing your career, and your art with us.
EL – Thank you for honoring me with your interest.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

moviestar couture June 14, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Thank you Kris!
Erin’s work is fabulux.

KrisBelucci June 2, 2009 at 11:39 am

Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

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