Making the Dancing Stars Look the Part

Gyrating hips and fancy footwork may be the key to a judge's heart on "Dancing With the Stars," but it certainly never hurts to look the part.

The long hours of grueling dance practices ensure that image is not everything for the competitors, but as the celebrities and their professional dance partners take to the stage each Monday night their graceful costumes and flawless makeup are hard to miss.

The process of deciding on the correct outfit and then getting it ready for showtime is an arduous one for those behind the scenes. In the opening week, the costume team has just six days to ensure that 46 custom-built outfits were ready to rock and roll.

While the number of outfits required does decrease week by week, that only heightens the amount of attention each one garners.

"It's incredibly stressful not only getting a ballroom-quality product on the floor but then watching the show and hope it all goes smoothly," said costume supervisor Kirstin Gallo.

For Designers, a Hectic Weekly Countdown to the Show

The week for those who create these elaborate wardrobes begins on a Tuesday. Contestants get their music on Tuesday, and, after finishing the rehearsals, they take the elevator up to the second floor and discuss wardrobe concepts and inspiration with Gallo and costume designer Randall Christensen.

After deciding on costumes, Gallo puts in the weekly order for rhinestones, the flashy diamond simulant made from glass or acrylic that helped Cheryl Burke and her partner Ian Ziering sparkle their way to another impressive performance last week.

"We have more than 200,000 rhinestones flown from our supplier in New York over to Los Angeles every season," said Gallo. "Making over 100 dresses a month is not easy, especially given that many of the rhinestones are applied by hand."

On Wednesday and Thursday, the costumes are built, with the first fitting taking place on Friday. Saturday sees the rhinestones added while on Sunday final alterations are made and a rehearsal takes place to check the fit.

Hours before it's time to perform on Monday the microphone pads are sown in and a final rehearsal takes place.

Hoping for No Accidents

Even the long hours and meticulous preparation can't prevent some near-accidents. Gallo could only watch in horror last season when Monique Coleman caught her heel on the back of her dress.

Thankfully, such incidents are few and far between, though there was one particular occasion when it looked like one contestant was going to have to dance in jeans and a T-shirt.

"At 12 a.m. the night before one show we had finished fixing the Swarovski crystals to a dress when they all suddenly fell off," Gallo told ABC News.

"What had happened was the place where we bought the glue had changed their formulation, but as it was the middle of the night our costume designer and I had to find a 24-hour drugstore and buy more glue," said Gallo, who can now smile about the incident. "By showtime I'd been up 40 hours straight, but it was all worth it."

Going Extreme With the Makeup

With high definition television showing every detail and highlighting every flaw, good makeup and hair is more important than ever for contestants.

"Extreme makeup and hair have been used by professional ballroom dancers for years as a way to stand out during group competitions," said Melanie Mills, the lead makeup artist for the show. "We have taken this extreme and Hollywood-ized it meaning we have softened it a little but still kept it big."

A great example of this philosophy was Leeza Gibbons, who last week worked the sexy look while dancing the tango with lips so red they could have been used to stop traffic.

"Leeza has been around makeup her whole career so she has her own ideas, and with lipstick people get particularly locked into their favorite color, but we usually come to some agreement," Mills told ABC News.

Mills has worked on "Dancing With the Stars" since the second season. Having learned the art of makeup from her mother and grandmother, Mills began a career as an Italian interpreter before agreeing to help out on a film set for a friend. She hasn't looked back.

"The producers have total trust in us and really let us go for it," said Mills, who smiles both warmly and often.

On the day of airing, around 45 minutes is spent on each individual's body makeup alone. The contestants are given a spray tan before a stain is hand-buffed over the top. Mills and her team then choose from a variety of bronze, gold and pearl lotions. Finally, they are given a sprinkling of glitter to make sure they shimmer and glimmer their way across the stage.

Battling Against Sweat

On show night, between seven and 10 makeup artists work in the main trailer. One of the crucial tasks is powdering up the dancers to minimize the appearance of shine and sweat that results from a vibrant workout under hot lights. Sometimes though, not even makeup can save the day.

"Last year things got so tense between the contestants we had to put certain people at opposite ends of the trailer," said Mills. "Luckily this year the group is much more family-oriented."

The final decision on hair and makeup comes down to the contestants' dance, their color scheme, what they want and what Mills wants. It's not always a harmonious relationship.

"The pros always want to be super tan so we have to draw the line with them," said Mills. "Also, one of the biggest issues is hair, be it wigs or coloring, and it once took four of us to convince Cheryl (Burke) that hair extensions were a good idea."

While "Dancing With the Stars" is about a whole lot more than just looking big and flashy, the hair and makeup remains an intriguing part of the show.

According to Mills tattoos are going to creep onto the agenda this year with a skull and crossbones planned for Burke. Whether Ziering will be wearing a black eye patch and a parrot on his shoulder remains to be seen.