Celebrating Eletra Casadei’s legacy

Photo by Jenna Chapman – “The Legacy of Love” exhibit in SUMA.

Iconic fashion designer Eletra Casadei has given the students in the Theatre Arts and Dance department the opportunity of a lifetime. For the past four years they have had the opportunity to use incredible fabrics, trims and industrial sewing machines from her personal collection.

Electra Casadei was an iconic fashion designer in the 80s and 90s whose passion  was Old Hollywood glamour. She entered the fashion world at the age of 15 when she became a model. By the age of 21, she was a buyer for departments stores. After only four years she started her own line founded on the principle of affordable elegance.

Austin Andrews, a senior theatre arts major from Layton, said Casadei’s designs are, “innovative and exciting.” According to Andrews, Eletra Casadei was a trend setter. She wasn’t afraid to try new styles or silhouettes.

Casadei pushed the limits of style. Her prom dresses put away the Sweet Sixteen look and moved into strapless, backless, slit-to-here looks that are still popular today. She continued her passion until the age of 55, when she died in 2008 from a brain tumor. Her sister Andrea Casadei then took charge of all her sister’s estate–including her amazing collection of original designs, fabrics and trim. Andrea wanted to continue her sister’s legacy by donating Casadei’s collection to a worthy cause.

Photo by Jenna Chapman – “The Legacy of Love” exhibit in SUMA.

Andrea Casadei met Wendy Sanders, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts, and decided she wanted to donate to Southern Utah University Theatre Arts and Dance department.

“It is my greatest wish for her legacy to continue to inspire young people in different areas from clothing,” said Andrea Casadei. The donation that was made is doing just that.

Casadei’s fabrics and trims have been used to help creativity flourish among the department. Not only did Andrea Casadei donate materials, she also started the Eletra Casadei Assistantship. It is a scholarship given to one student per year. This year’s recipient is Lars Palmer.

The scholarship recipient is chosen by Sanders and Andrea at the end of every year. They look at the costumes they have seen in the shows over the course of the year the shows and which student has impressed them.

“It was very interesting to receive the assistantship because I am fully in the theatre department so to receive the assistantship was very validating,” Lars said. The scholarship is a raise given to a student that works in the SUU costume shop. The money is from a part of Casadei’s estate. Once the school year is over, another student will receive the assistantship and Lars wage will be adjusted

The impact Eletra Casadei has on SUU will never be forgotten. Her work and legacy has made a big impact here at SUU, so the students and faculty want to give back. Starting Tuesday, Sept. 19, there is going to be a Casadei exhibit featured at Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA). Not only will orginal Casadei designs be on display, but also student work as well–much of which has been inspired by her designs.

Both Andrews and Palmer are looking forward to this exhibit.

“I am excited to spread awareness on how Casadei has impacted people’s lives,” Andrews said.

“I look forward to seeing all the original work by the students,” Palmer said. “To see how Eletra Casadei’s legacy continues in the students.”

The exhibit will run from Sept. 19 through Nov. 19. There will be a special Gala fashion show on Nov. 4 where an original piece will be auctioned off. The exhibit is free for all students, so stop by and admire the work of the unforgettable Eletra Casadei.

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Story by
Cassidy Harmon