All of this got me thinking about costumes and the different disciplines of being a costume designer. I have just been commissioned to make costumes for a web series called The Bloody Mary Show, which is a comedy series based on the legend of Bloody Mary. I have three ladies to dress, each one of them a totally different character, style and shape. It's been a long time since I made costumes. As an amateur dramatic actress I not only played the leading lady and usually the tart with the heart; Nancy in Oliver and Rizzo in Grease, but also designed and made my own costumes, mainly out of vanity and fear that I would be dressed in some hession cloth that made me itchy and scratchy as opposed to on set siren! I perish the thought. I remember one particular rehearsal of Oliver, where Bill Sykes had just slapped me across the face, and I was lying in the gutter, tears streaming down my face belting out with gusto "As Long As He Needs Me" and someone from the wings piping up "have you got the baskets ready for the who will buy scene?" I suddenly realised I couldn't be in two places at one time - tears or not!
The 7 steps for highly effective costume making:
- Leave the technical stuff behind, this is mostly a creative process.
- Day 1 on set - the costume you have spent time stitching, pressing and making beautiful is likely to take a turn for the worse, particularly in the case of the Bloody Mary show. There WILL be blood, sweat, tears and slashing - I've adopted the LET IT GO mantra.
- Nothing that won't be seen needs to be perfectly finished, so, when time is limited you can wing it on the inside as long as the outside looks the part.
- The actors need to be comfortable in what they are wearing, they need to feel good about it. Otherwise what's the point?
- Leave a little extra room on all of the seams just incase the actor / actress needs to kamikaze, plie, sing a seventh octave, have a baby or have sex (in theatre/film this happens a lot in clothes).
- There are limited budgets, so deal with it.
- The film / series may be a big hit, the leading lady may get an oscar nomination and you may get the opportunity to dress her for that red carpet moment and NONE of the above will matter happy days!
Mistress Savage xx