The Costuming Process
© Jules Tonus
The costume design evolves from the creative collaboration of the director and the designer. Costume design is not about beautiful fabrics or historical accuracy. It is about conveying the essence of a character through clothing.
Developing that essence begins with a number of conversations between the designer and director. These conversations take place long before the designer sets pencil to paper, and they involve a sharing of ideas about how the director sees the play in terms of important themes, prevailing atmosphere, historical period in which the play might be set and desired emotional impact.
The series of design discussions ends with the production of two sets of costumes sketches. Preliminaries are the first set of designs. They are usually quick pencil sketches. Sets of preliminaries get sent to both the director and the head of wardrobe. This is the first time the designer and the wardrobe department are in contact. Discussions follow and, if necessary, changes are made. Preliminaries are needed to ensure that the design is affordable.
Finals, finished costume sketches, are then completed. Renderings are accompanied by historical references and other supporting materials such as magazine clippings or painting reproductions. The costume sketch is an essential tool offering a wealth of information. A production’s colour scheme or the height of a heel can be indicated by this two-dimensional rendering.