What does a costume designer do?
Costume is at the core of a film or TV drama. As well as contributing to the look, it helps actors feel emotionally connected to the character they are playing through wearing the character’s clothes.
Costume designers design, create and hire the costumes for the cast. They start by working with directors, producers, writers, the production designer and hair and makeup designer to contribute to the look and storytelling of the production. They research, sketch and draw mood boards of characters and clothes to communicate the style.
They then break down the script, working out what they need to create or hire. Working within tight budgets and deadlines, they recruit a team, organise a schedule of purchases and ensure the costumes are created on time for fittings. With the help of the team they schedule fittings and take photographs. These are then discussed with the producer and director and signed off.
Once shooting starts, they are always on set whenever there are new actors or new looks.
What’s a costume designer good at?
- Styling: understand the director’s vision, know what that means for the costumes
- Costume history: know contemporary fashion and clothing design through the ages, be able to research using books, museums, the internet
- Storytelling: understand how a story can be told through garments and colour palette
- Making clothes: have an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of garment production
- Organisation: break down a script into costume requirements, schedule the costume production, manage the team and the budget
- Communication: share the vision of the costume design with team members, listen to actors and respond to their needs