The job of a costume designer is an important one as the attire worn by actors in a production is pivotal to pulling off a role properly. Here’s what it’s like, according to Backstage.
The first task of a costume designer is to review and fully understand the script in order to select the proper wardrobe for all players involved. It’s important that the costumes are an appropriate and accurate depiction of the story and that each item helps tells the tale. The director will work closely with the designer to make sure his or her vision is coming to life as expected, but the designer should have some specs ready so the two can collaborate.
Costumes must pair well with the character wearing them. This means actors have to feel comfortable and believe the garb helps them bring their character to life. If actors are not comfortable wearing certain pieces this will inevitably be projected in their performance and the part won’t come together. The designer will work with each player during a fitting to ensure the measurements are just right.
During the fitting, communication is key. The designer will discuss with the actor how they can help bring out their confidence. The actor and designer need to build a good rapport so the actor can feel as if they can tell the person measuring them that the costume is too snug, too loose, or just otherwise doesn’t feel comfortable. It can be difficult to tell if a costume is itchy or the actor feels too restricted, and it is up to him or her to convey this.
Above all, the designer (along with the rest of the crew) wants the actor to feel as if everything fits and they can work in it. They strive to ensure the wardrobe is a perfect portrayal of the story unfolding, so everyone on set is pleased with the performance. Some roles require an extensive transformation with period wear, multiple layers, or superhero attire, and an actor should be aware of what will be required for him or her for that role. However, there are some workarounds that can be discussed during the fitting if something needs to be modified.
Being a costume designer isn’t an easy task. It takes a keen eye for detail. But the payoff is huge when one can see their choices come to life on stage or on the big screen!