What Does A Costume Designer Do?

Costume designers support the theme of a movie or theatrical production through the costumes they make for the actors and actresses to wear. The clothes, shoes, jewelry and other accessories used by everyone on stage is a silent but powerful statement of the role that a character plays, the progression of the character’s role and the relationships among the other characters. Even supporting actors in the background who don’t have any speaking parts must be garbed in such a manner that they will contribute to the authenticity of the entire performance.

Costume designers don’t directly design characters’ costumes. They first need to read the script to determine what the story is, who the characters are and what the setting is so that they will have an idea as to what clothes would best depict the characters played by the actors. They also meet with the directors to ensure that their vision of the entire production is the same since this will also be reflected in the costumes. During this meeting, the designers also make any clarifications on the scenes, the number of actors for the entire production and the number of wardrobe changes that need to be made, among others.

Research is also an integral part of the job of costume designers. This is especially true of period films and plays where the wardrobe is vastly different from those worn in modern times. Based on the script and their research, they will then come up with what is known as a costume plot which will detail the character movements and costume changes of each scene. This will enable the designer to determine the costumes for each character while at the same time anticipating potential issues that might crop up, such as when an actor has to make a quick costume change for each scene.

Costume designers also need to participate in at least a single rehearsal for a play in order to understand how the actor will carry the costume on stage. They also work with the design team, like set designers, lighting directors and others, to ensure that the costumes will fit with the stage design and lighting. For example, actresses wearing bulky dresses need to be able to pass through the doors in the set with ease. Otherwise, they’ll end up making a dramatic play look funny and silly. They also need to make sure that the costumes they make will be durable enough to withstand the rigors of the scene, especially if it involves a lot of action and movement. They also collaborate with lighting directors to ensure that the lighting requirements and the colors of the costume will complement and enhance the overall look and mood of each scene,

After the costume plots and final sketches have been approved by the director and the budget agreed upon, the costume designer will then proceed with fitting the characters and shopping for the fabrics and accessories that will be needed. The designer then proceeds to make the costume, usually with other cutters and dressmakers. This stage is perhaps the most time-consuming aspect of the entire process, especially if there are a number of costumes that will be made. It is often the most fulfilling part for many costume designers since this is where they are actually able to showcase their skill and make objects of beauty.

Once the final costumes have been made, the designer sees to it that these are fitted by the actors and actresses. They will then make adjustments if these are needed to ensure that the clothes of each performer are not only comfortable and sturdy but will also support the overall look and theme of the entire production.

Costume designers do need strong technical skills when it comes to crafting each costume. The also let their creativity and imagination guide them especially when they are making wardrobes for futuristic or fantastic productions where no basis yet exists as to the costumes worn by the characters living in that time period. In these instances, they draw their inspiration not only from the story itself but from other movies, paintings, stories, books, existing trends, magazines, nature and virtually from anything else that they can relate to the wardrobe requirements of the production.

Career Spotlight: Costume Designer

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