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The Costume Design Process

Clayesmore School Theatre Department


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The f irs t thing to remembe r abou t cos t ume de sign is th at i t is a PROCESS.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I d e a s w o nt j u s t m a g i c a l l y appe ar in your he ad.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Bu t, if you work c are f ully and thoughtfully through e ach s tage of the proce ss, you will de ve lop some imagin at i ve de signs

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Stage 1 - Analysis

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Analysis
You will need to work closely with the director and the rest of the creative team at this stage Think about the central themes of the play - what ideas do you want to explore through your costumes What is the mood of the play? Does it change? Does the play suggest a particular time or place? Have a look at the image on the next page - What period does it suggest to you?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

This design was for a production of A Servant to Two Masters which is set in Italy in the C17th.

Design: Thomasin Bailey.

Peter Burke Theatre

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Analysis
Having considered the play as a whole, a costume designer must think particularly closely about the individual characters. What do you want the costume to convey about the character? Does the character have any particular requirements for the costume - is it essential that it has pockets, for example? Does the character have to change costume? When? You may find it helpful to complete a chart like the one on the next slide.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Play:
Scene 1 3 6 Location Kitchen Trenches Trenches Time of Day/ Year Winter Winter Spring

Character:
Particular Requirements Just entered from garden. Comments on the cold. Upper class, wealthy character. Play set in 1914 Character has joined army as an officer - 2nd Lieutenant. Just arrived at front. 4 months later - costume beginning to show wear and tear of wartime - some distressing necessary (2nd costume) - quick change.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Stage 2 - Research

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Research
There are many places to research your costume - books in the library, the internet etc You should also look at photographs or paintings from the period Dont restrict yourself just to looking at pictures of costumes - listening to the music of the time can give you a sense of the mood. Look at history books so you are aware of the relevant historical events Make sure you keep everything! Keep all your research together and in a place where you can see it easily. Some designers use a sketchbook and others create large boards. Have a look at the examples on the next few pages.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

This was a sketch by Tanya McCallin who was costume designer for a production of Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House in London in 2001. She says:
We used literally hundreds of paintings, frescos and drawings of the French and Italian Renaissance to make close study of period detail. Sketches were made to select, distil and freely interpret information to suggest the hierarchical world of the piece. All the clothes were made of lustrous silks and damasks, in gorgeous colours with emphasis placed on points and lacings to achieve a louche and debauched look.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Thomasin Bailey

Research board for Pantalone

A Ser vant to Two Masters - Peter Burke Theatre 2006

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Thomasin Bailey

Research board for Dr Lombardi

A Ser vant to Two Masters - Peter Burke Theatre 2006

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Early research board by Michael Miller for Smeraldina in A Ser vant to Two Masters Peter Burke Theatre 2006

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Stage 3 - Form

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Form
Try not to think yet about what your character will be wearing. Instead, try to keep thinking in quite abstract terms. Focus on: Colour Shape Texture Scale

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Form - Colour
Look at the images on the next couple of pages. What does the dominant colour say about the character? Look particularly at the way the designers have tried to work with quite a limited palette of colours. Sometimes, colour can be a good way of identifying groups of characters

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

This design is by Nancy Surman for a production of The Duchess of Malfi at Salisbury Playhouse in 2002. She says:
In this classic Jacobean revenge tragedy, the Duchess of Malfi is ensnared in a rich, powerful, violent world. Characters spill across the dark austere landscape like blood, scarlet from a freshly cut vein. The depravity of the cardinal bestows a hellish corruption on his fiery vestments, while the opulence of the Duchess sweeping robes shock against the bloody rags of lunatics. The costumes blend Renaissance and contemporary elements. Cut and silhouette are evocative of the period whilst modern fabrics...give the costumes extraordinary richness and texture.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The Duchess of Malfi Designer: Nancy Surman

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Form - Shape
Of course, you have to work with a real actor but your costume can greatly affect the way they look. Try to find a shape that seems appropriate for your character Do you want them to seem long and angular, or round and cur vy? It can help just to think about the shape at this stage - dont worry yet about the actual clothes. Can you draw the shape with just a few lines?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking Glass Designer: Peter McKintosh RSC 2001
Most people have strong images of how Alice should look, be it Tenniel, Peak, Disney or Ralph Steadman. My designs retained 2D images in the settings but the costumes and characters were very three dimensional!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking Glass Designer: Peter McKintosh
Notice how the shape of the drawing has been captured in the final costume. What can you tell about the character just from the shapes used in the costume?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Servant to Two Masters Costume design for Smeraldina Michael Miller Peter Burke Theatre 2006

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Form - Texture
Think very carefully about the textures you want to use for your design Your decisions might be affected by your research you may want to use similar fabrics and textures to the ones used in the period of the play. Your character will be moving on stage - how do you want the costume to move? Do you want it to flow effortlessly? Do you want it to appear stiff and formal? What sort of texture seems appropriate for your character?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The Streets of Dublin The Brix, London 1997 Designer: Tim Heywood
A magical romp through Victorian melodrama, seen with very modern eyes. The costumes reflected the beauty of the Victorian silhouette, a Dickensian delight in truly tattered waifs and strays and an expression of overt theatricality with bustles and frocks galore.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Form - Scale
As a costume designer, you probably have less scope to explore scale than a set designer - your costume has to fit an actor, after all - but it is worth considering this aspect. If your character has to be very imposing, you may be able to help the actor with your costume design.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Stage 4 - Design Style

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Design Style
This aspect of design can be simplified into the question: is it right for your designs for this production to be NATURALISTIC or NONNATURALISTIC? NATURALISTIC costumes try to re-create exactly the time and place described in the play. If the play is set in 1960, the designer will make the costumes look exactly as they would have done then. NON-NATURALISTIC costumes place much less emphasis on time and place. Maybe the setting of the play is a fantasy setting; or in the future.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Drawings and Samples

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Drawings and Samples


Now its time to put all your thoughts so far into sketches for your costumes. Make sure you keep all your sketches - you never now when you will want to go back to an earlier idea. All designers have their own style of sketching. Some hardly draw at all, preferring to use photographs, perhaps manipulating them with a computer. The important thing is that your sketches convey your ideas clearly.
Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Oklahoma
National Youth Music Theatre Designer: Kate Burnett
The vigorous stripes and checks say something about the bright, clashing life of the American frontier. Conceived as an ensemble piece, my costume drawings were sketch-schemes of groups of characters. I sampled the fabrics before committing to colouring these drawings.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Compare the more realistic paintings favoured by this designer with the sketches on the previous page.

Oliver Twist
Liverpool Playhouse 2001 Designer: David Collis
The clothes, all tonally related to the set, added to the sense of chiaroscuro, restlessness and menace that per vades the narrative.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Servant to Two Masters


Peter Burke Theatre 2006 Design for Truffaldino Designer: Thomasin Bailey

Notice here how the costume changed bet ween the sketch stage and the manufacture - though the initial idea does find expression in the floor pattern used on the set! You do have to be adaptable as a designer and know when to alter your ideas - and when to stick to them stubbornly.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Servant to Two Masters


Peter Burke Theatre 2006 Design for Clarice Designer: Sarah Baillie

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Once your ideas have been accepted by the director, you can begin the manufacture of your costume Follow the Costume lessons on the Drama Moodle (Technical Courses) for lots of information about making a costume. There are a number of excellent books in the library, published by the Society of British Theatre Designers, which you should have a look at. They include: Time & Space 2D/3D Make Space

Tuesday, 22 December 2009