By Calynn M. Lawrence
Many people think of a costume designer as being someone who merely throws outfits together for those who are in a play, movie or performance. Yet, they do not realise the hard work involved with this role and the importance of their presence!
#1 THEY HAVE TO STYLE A LOT OF PEOPLE
Costume designers tend to work on large projects that involve multiple people. It is very seldom to find a production that has less than 10 people in its cast. Not to mention large productions like blockbuster movies, where there are hundreds of cast members. The costume designer is responsible for each and every one of their appearances. Sometimes, creating an entire look for one person alone can take days, so imagine the work involved with having to style hundreds of people! This means a lot of long hours, many days working from sun up to sun down to successfully complete the work necessary.
#2 THEY OFTEN HAVE TO IMPROVISE ON THE SPOT
There’s always something that goes wrong. An entirely perfect production does not exist. People fluctuate in weight, scenes get omitted and added, characters get, garments get stained and ruined. It’s the job of the costume designer to quickly fix whatever issue. Given that the cast is likely large, you will need to be agile and creative to the tenth degree in order to fix these things on spot. Although the pressure on them is immense, the show must go on!
#3 THEY HAVE TO BE GOOD JUDGES OF CHARACTER
When you are comprising the look for a character or cast member, there are more factors than just picking something cute. You have to be able to read between the lines and delve into the personality of the individual. To be as realistic as possible, the outer appearance must match the inner person. For example, if you have a person who is very loud, proud and outspoken you certainly would not want to dress them in plain, overly modest attire as you would someone more meek. You would want them to dress boldly, uniquely and perhaps even fashion forward. This should be taken into account when designing fancy dress costumes.
#4 THEY ARE THE ONES WHO CREATE THE VISUAL FOR THE CAST
Believe it or not, the look of a character has a lot to do with how you perceive them. Costume designers play a large role in the marketability of the production. They create the template for advertisers to work from. They are the ones who piece together the visual aesthetic for audiences to see. If something doesn’t catch your eye then you are likely to ignore it. Thus, it is the job of the costume designer to make sure that the overall composition of the cast is on point. This can range anywhere from strictly doing wardrobe to even having a say in the hair and makeup for each member involved!
When you consider these factors it makes you think about just how crucial having a great costume designer is. Hopefully you have grown in appreciation for some of your favourite designers. After all, could you imagine if all of your favourite entertainers wore the exact same outfits? Or if each cast member looked identical? Certainly not! You can thank the costume designer for that one.