Design Challenge – designing and making a costume

Design Challenge – designing and making a costume

My name is Mal Barton and I am head of the costume work rooms at the Opera House. I think that the costume is a very important element of a production because it really does help to set the scene, it really does help to tell a story. The costume interperates the role in many ways, it describes the character by fabric, by shape, be period, and generally enhances the story and helps to tell the story. When you get to be creating your own costume, you really need to begin with research. You need to find out as much as you possibly can about your character, about the story, the inspiration, you need to think about fabrics, how you’re going to tell that story, how you’re going to interpret that costume. You need to think about your characters role within that story. You need to think about what they need to do on stage. You need to think about the period that you are going to set it in. You’ll need to research the history of the construction of that period. So really, as much research as you can do, is going to help you create a beautiful costume. When you begin your work on your costume you’ll be given a brief. The brief will be partly the costume design, it will be partly describing the fabrics, it will be partly talking about the character. The first thing to look at is probably the design and the shape. Then you think about the character, how he’s going to tell that story. Then you think about the fabrics that might work for that shape, but also for the character himself. If it is a very delicate piece and a very delicate story, then you are looking at lightweight fabrics, fabrics that will float. If it’s a very powerful piece, a very strong story, then you’re looking at heavy fabrics, leathers and plastics. Fabrics and ideas that are going to help tell that story. The designer creates a 2D drawing and it is the costume cuter and the costume maker that turns those 2D drawings into 3D. They work with designer to see how that shape is going to evolve. They’ll need to know where they’re going to put their seam lines. They’ll need to know the history or the period of the costume in order to do that. Sometimes you may compromise on some of the period detail in order to create the shape or to give a character the movement you need to. But these things have to be worked out with the costume maker and the cuter, and the designer working together. You also, of course, need to talk to the person that’s going to wear it because they are going to have to do what they need to do in the costume that you’re creating. If you’re interested in a career in Costume Design or Costume Making, your first project really is to source a good course. There are many courses in costume interpretation, costume making, in and around London and the UK. Then it would be a really good idea to start getting involved in theatre, in work placements, so applying to the various repertory theatres to try and get a placement for a week or two. It’s also good if you can get a part time job in a local rep theatre or a London West End theatre. You could do a dressing job, or you could work front of house, its really going to help you to get involved with the environment and start to feel if it’s right for you.

4 thoughts on “Design Challenge – designing and making a costume

  1. "Turning that two dimensional design into three." That's the job of the costume maker. How fascinating and inspiring. Thank you for sharing this and uploading!

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