For those unfamiliar with The Crucible, it’s literally a hotbed of creativity with molten metal, glass blowing and fire dancing all in a day’s work. The Crucible is one of the nation’s leading schools of industrial arts as well as a major cultural hub connecting Bay Area artists and audiences through events like Hot Couture.
The showmanship and creative genius of Prince provides inspiration for 2017’s theme, “The Beautiful Ones.” According to David Miller, Executive Director of The Crucible, “Prince’s work embodies just what we want for this event: innovative artistry, iconic fashion, perpetual creativity, bold vision and lots and lots of love.” The Crucible has encouraged participating designers to build strong runway presentations that celebrate diversity, funk, and excellence in all its forms.
Hot Couture creates a bold, fiery setting in which fashion designers unveil their work. While only a small portion of the runway models are fire dancers, flaming industrial displays are a dramatic element of The Crucible’s unique approach to stagecraft. The Crucible embarks on a rigorous process to determine which artists and fashion designers will appear in Hot Couture. While some are already professional designers, others are new to the field and straight out of art school. Quite often, Crucible instructors and students get involved. Based on the theme of each annual production, designers submit up to four concepts and sketches. Roughly a dozen teams are selected, based on the most innovative proposals that can also be achieved on a limited budget. Hot Couture 2017 will feature a truly amazing lineup:
Hot Couture 2017: The Beautiful Ones will pull out all the stops, beginning with a performance by national recording artist and East Bay native, Netta Brielle. Turntable queen Pam the Funkstress (aka Pam Warren), a beloved local DJ who recently toured with Prince, will provide ambiance music and intermission sets. Bay Area radio personality Sterling James will also be on the runway, returning to host the four-night event.
Michael Sturtz has astounded audiences with his stylized theatrical productions and he was instrumental in pioneering the original Hot Couture concept. For 2017, Sturtz will design and direct the fire-filled grand finale, collaborating with some of the West Coast’s most talented aerialists, hand-balancers, and contortionists to craft a story called “The Origin of Love.”
“When the earth was still flat and the clouds made of fire, and mountains stretched up to the sky, sometimes higher… folks roamed the earth like big rolling kegs. They had two sets of arms, they had two sets of legs. They had two faces peering out of one giant head, so they could watch all around them as they talked, while they read. And they knew nothing of love. It was before the origin of love…” – Lyrics by Stephen Trask
High concept fuses with high tech.
– San Francisco Chronicle
Every year a new set is designed through partnerships with local companies such as CASS, Bay City Pyrotector, and Schnitzer Steel. Recycling of industrial materials is an important theme woven into The Crucible’s DNA, with past Hot Couture events using up to 40 tons of compacted aluminum for stage and runway construction. The 2017 design will utilize a variety of reclaimed materials including rebar, halon extinguishers, muffler parts, leaf springs, chains and more. Crucible studio staff and local art students, ages 18–24, assist with set design, stage fabrication, and flame effects.