Who wore it best? Strictly Come Dancing 2019, week 8: the costumier's verdict – how Saffron Barker’s ‘powernet’ powered her to victory

Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard in Saturday's episode of Strictly Come Dancing
Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard in Saturday's episode of Strictly Come Dancing Credit: PA

Scottish Ballet senior wardrobe technician Ciara Nolan gives us her verdict on the week eight costumes

The female contestants have been dominating the Strictly leader board recently, and last night it wasn’t just their routines that stole the show. 

Saffron Barker, who won the night with a score of 39, wore a beautiful, traditional, eight-panelled ballroom dress with plenty of dark red lace appliquéd on top of a flesh-coloured mesh called “powernet”. In ballet, we use powernet in abundance as it gives the appearance of bare skin (but only when correctly colour-matched to the dancer's skin tone). It also contains spandex, so has plenty of stretch and strength. 

Amy Dowden also wore a traditional ballroom costume for her Viennese Waltz with partner Karim, although I’m not a huge fan of this more classic style. The dress featured full godet panels with plenty of underskirts and the makers used flesh powernet again to fake an “off the shoulder” style. I see the elegant aim of the costume, however I think the large, almost Renaissance style sleeves were a little distracting from the rest of the dress – not to mention hiding her (and some of Karim’s) nice lines and form.

Karen Hauer wore a simple halter neck costume for her fiery Tango, with a plain un-stoned velvet front and more detailed mesh back with gorgeous Brickwood stoning. The frilled skirt was also plainer in front and sparkling in the back. I’m no stranger to a rhinestone gun and I’m aware of the hours of hand-stoning that went into this dress. There must have been at least two days of work here; Strictly always takes it to the next sparkly level.

Her large necklace was cleverly faked by adding beadwork to the neckline of her dress, securely stitching it down and adding some glamour to her costume. 

I think Katya Jones’s Paso Doble costume was another triumph for designer Vicky Gill and her Strictly team, with bands of satin, mesh, organza and 3D petal embellishment applied around the neckline and continuing up into her hair. 

I love seeing attention to detail in ballroom costumes that sometimes use sparkles and frills to mask poor design. Yet she did have some frills, with a row of black ribbon trimming her hem and giving weight to her skirt – perfect for a Paso Doble.

Lastly, Emma Barton was matching with her partner Anton in their Bob Fosse inspired Theatre/Jazz routine. With this style of dance, the trouser suit works. White stripes and lines worked together in both outfits, preventing an all-black costume that might have lost some details of the costume and choreography.

Next week the action moves to Blackpool’s famous Tower Ballroom; I can’t wait to see what the Strictly costume team have up their sleeves.