Chris March, Over-the-Top Fashion Designer, Dies at 56

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Chris March, a fashion and costume designer whose outrageous outfits caught the eye of audiences on Bravo’s hit reality show “Project Runway,” and who went on to create striking clothes for Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and other stars, died last week. He was 56.

His death was confirmed by Bravo, which provided no further details.

Mr. March’s career as a designer began in earnest during a decade with “Beach Blanket Babylon,” a long-running musical revue in San Francisco known for its elaborate costumes. Mr. March’s contributions included a towering Martha Stewart-themed headpiece complete with a pie, a lobster, a pot of sunflowers and a copy of Martha Stewart Living.

That over-the-top drag show aesthetic characterized much of Mr. March’s work. He dressed Lady Gaga in a studded ankle-length motorcycle jacket with jutting shoulder pads for a concert in Las Vegas in 2011. He helped realize Thierry Mugler’s superhero designs for Beyoncé’s 2009-10 world tour, including a golden outfit that resembled a futuristic one-piece bathing suit.

But those costumes, eye-catching as they were, were almost pedestrian by Mr. March’s standards. His other designs included “a Mr. Potato Head, a palm tree, a lobster and a 10-foot martini,” The New York Times reported in 2006.

The occasion for the Times article was a commission that Mr. March had accepted from Wish-Bone, the salad dressing maker, to construct outfits using real and artificial vegetables — lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, green onions — for a promotional fashion show of sorts at Grand Central Terminal.

“They said, ‘You know, we don’t really know anyone who could do this, but do you think you could make a line of clothing made out of salad and food?’ ’’ Mr. March was quoted as saying in the article. “I said, sure, it’s one of the easier things I’ve done. I once made a giant six-foot can of Crisco that a person had to dance in, and that had an Elvis wig on top.”

Mr. March’s designs for “Project Runway,” during the show’s 2007-8 season, its fourth, incorporated human hair in some cases; another entry was a strappy leopard-print halter top with matching hood and sleeves for the WWE wrestler Maria Kanellis. He became a fan favorite, even though, under the show’s competition format, he finished in fourth place at the season’s end.

Mr. March was not afraid to model his more extreme designs himself, proudly appearing beneath colossal wigs as drag versions of Princess Leia or Wonder Woman.

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