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'American Idol': Stylist Nra Kudelka on Candice and Kree's style evolutions

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Image Credit: Michael Becker/Fox; Rick Mickshaw/Fox

Last night on American Idol, Kree Harrison and Candice Glover sang for their lives in hopes of being crowned the season 12 winner.

Each contestant gave three performances, which meant three wardrobe changes. Women’s contestant stylist Nra Kudelka — the men worked with stylist Seth Chernoff — and the Idol wardrobe team had just one week to pull together all the looks for both last night’s finale performances and tonight’s results show.

How do they do it? Read on to find out what Kudelka says about how the song choices influence the wardrobe, mixing custom pieces with store-bought clothes, and why she’s had to talk both finalists into wearing dresses. 

“I can only do a certain amount of prep work until I know what their song selection is,” Kudelka says. “It makes a huge difference if they’re singing a ballad, if they’re singing an uptempo song, how they’re moving, what the staging is going to be. That all plays into how they need to look.”

In the shows leading up to the finale, Kudelka has been on a mad dash creating custom-made pieces that she mixes with off-the-rack designs. “We still want to keep it young and current, just because it’s the finale doesn’t mean I want them in prom dresses or ball gowns,” she says.

For last night’s performances, the stylist gave Kree “a more sophisticated, sexy, contemporary look” that was a blend of old Hollywood glamour and current trends. “Kree is what we’ve dubbed ‘soft edge,'” says Kudelka. “She doesn’t like to be too trendy or too edgy or funky. She likes to always look classic and elegant with very timeless pieces that are well-tailored. When first started she was like, ‘I don’t want to wear a dress, I don’t feel comfortable showing my legs. I don’t want to show too much of my arms.'”

As the season has progressed, the stylist has helped Kree step out of her comfort zone by dressing her in more form-fitting clothes and trendy accessories. “It’s still very Kree, but it’s more tailored to her body so it shows her curves. She has a great shape, she’s very bombshell in a way,” the stylist says. “We did [an Alice + Olivia] peplum dress on her  that was super cute and flattering and she loved it! Her evolution has been doing a more streamlined look based off her taste but adding some edgy touches.”

When it comes to Candice, Kudelka says she’s tried to create a style for the contestant that’s as big as her voice. “I call Candice a Queen Bee. She wears [clothes] very regally,” the stylist says. “She just has a posture that reads very strong, so she can handle a lot of bold jewelry and colors like red, purple, and even cobalt.”

For the last two episodes, the stylist is dressing Candice like an “R&B soul diva.”

“I am custom making some items with leather, and I might have a dress to mix it up for one of the looks,” the stylist hints. “I got her in a dress last week, so that was a first. That was one of the few dresses she’s ever worn in her life, so it was a big deal. I told her, ‘You can’t go to the finale dressed in jeans! You have to expand!’ We’ve been easing her into that as we go into the finale.”

Who deserves the title of Best Dressed Idol Finalist? Head down to the comments and tell us who you think has winning style.

Read more:
EW Special Coverage | American Idol
Should ‘American Idol’ lose the results show, too?
Randy Jackson’s top 10 ‘American Idol’ legacies

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