The Steven Khalil-designed dress took over 100 hours to make.
Kate Miller-Heidke’s dress for her Eurovision 2019 performance was always going to be extraordinary. The award-winning singer/songwriter’s song for the contest is called Zero Gravity after all and as the singer told Vogue just prior to jetting off to Tel Aviv for Eurovision, the song talks “about planets and stars” and so her dress needed to have an “interstellar” feel in harmony with the song.
The singer also pointed out that Eurovision were clear on how important the dress or costume performers wear in the contest is. “We just had a list of things that this dress kind of needed to achieve, messages that it needed to impart,” Miller-Heidke told Vogue. “It had to sort of say a lot on my behalf. The costume says so much and, Eurovision you know, they were very clear with me from the beginning [about that].”
Miller-Heidke said it was quite a tough brief to get right with so many contrasting elements to include. “It had to be ethereal. Like a little touch of, I suppose, angelic about it, but also human and approachable. And the other thing is it had to be grand enough to accommodate the operatic, theatrical nature of this song, but also grounded enough to… I don’t want to look like a… buttoned up opera singer because [Zero Gravity is] a pop song.”
The singer turned to Sydney-based designer Steven Khalil — the designer behind Australia’s 2016 Eurovision Song Contest entrant, Dami Im’s Eurovision dress — to turn her dress design brief into reality, which she told Vogue was an eye-opening experience. “It has been really interesting for me… what an art it is, you know, the craft of making a dress that can convey so many messages… and either help or hinder the messages in the song. The song is vulnerable and yet also by the end of it really powerful. Just to see that a dress can speak that language as well. It’s amazing.”
Although the singer is representing Australia, the dress itself doesn’t incorporate any notable Australian elements, which the dress’s designer, Steven Khalil, explained the reasoning behind to Vogue. “Kate is an Australian artist,” Khalil said over email, “we didn’t need to make it particularly “Australian” as both of us are Australian. We wanted to create something that doesn’t necessarily make it about the country that she is representing but more about the song and performance she wanted to convey to the world.”
Kate Miller-Heidke during a fitting with Steven Khalil for Eurovision 2019. Image credit: supplied
The designer shared that the gown took over “100 hours to complete” and Khalil’s fabric selection of “metallic tulles and sheer organza” for the gown were chosen to “match the mood” of her performance.
Tune in to watch Kate Miller-Heidke perform in her Steven Khalil-designed gown with headpiece from Ford Millinery at the semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 during the live broadcast on SBS at 5am on Wednesday May 15, 2019 or the replay on Thursday May 16, 2019 at 8.30pm, also on SBS.