If you’ve lived in Kansas City long enough, you’ve probably seen, heard or danced along to a performance of the Pythons Drill Team. On April 16, the team—built from a talented roster of local youth (ages 5-21) with a knack for drumming and choreography—will celebrate its 30th anniversary during the annual “Planet Rock” competition show.
In addition to special performances by team alumni, the Pythons will mark the occasion by debuting new costumes designed by Project Runway season 14 contestant Laurie Underwood.
We caught up with Underwood to discuss her inspiration for dressing this stylish Kansas City institution.
You’re from Chicago; how did you connect with this Kansas City organization?
I went on Project Runway, and that’s how [the Pythons] found out about me. That was my objective of going on the show. I didn’t have a winning objective. I just knew I wanted to expand my brand and gain more recognition. It definitely worked because when I came back, I got a call that they wanted me to design their costumes. And I was honored!
How did you collaborate with the team on the design?
They came to me with the vision. I always ask the customer first, ‘what do you envision yourself wearing?’ And then I marry my aesthetic with their vision. They were really in love with the fact that they could have a jacket. So I started to design a costume around this jacket in a way that they could have multiple looks for different performances.
How did these sketches play into the final design?
We took the designs I have sketched out here and came up with one design inspired by all four sketches. I wanted them to have the freedom to design their own look and shop my vision, saying ‘you can put this sleeve on this jacket and you can take this detail and put it on this skirt.’
Any hints on what we can expect in that final look?
They wanted to create this kind of feathered military style look. I love military style and also wanted to create some kind of movement with the costume, so that was the inspiration behind it. I also looked to Beyoncé for inspiration. When it comes to costumes, her designs are great for performing.