How would you describe what do you do?
Being a costume designer is having an understanding of apparel, psychology and history. It requires a huge splash of imagination to breathe life into what goes to camera. How the actors are dressed informs their performance and has to work in the context of the scene and support their character’s psychological state. I am part historian, curator and story-teller.
How did you get your start?
I spent a lot of time on a stage when I was younger, and in college I started to drift to the wings more, looking for a different way to story-tell. I had no training at that point, just a hot glue gun and very basic sewing skills. So I just took it all on as an experiment and fell in love. I didn’t believe costume design could become a real career until I was out of college and saying yes to every short film, student thesis and indie that I was asked to work on.
As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"?
What do you love most about your job?
Collaboration. There’s a moment in a fitting when the actor starts to see their character more fully and their whole physicality changes because of the clothing. That is so exhilarating.
What do you dislike about your job?
The hours are grueling. Some days I leave my house at 3 a.m. and then work a 17-hour day. There’s a lot less glamour to this gig than people assume.
What was the best advice you ever received?
Costume design involves a lot of chaos, so you need to keep a cool head. If you can’t problem solve and stay positive you will resent the work when last minute casting, script revisions and schedule changes roll in (and they will).
What would you advise someone today?
Open yourself up to adventure. Accept that part of learning is being wrong. Help someone young who is on their way up, as someone definitely helped you at some point. Say yes to every opportunity. And put your phone down and look up from time to time.
How would you describe your personal style?
If the French Riviera fell into Helmut Lang.
Is there a key piece in your wardrobe that you rely on for your job?
Pockets. I have given up on any clothing without pockets. I need my hands free at all times!
Do people “get” your job?
An actor would say we are magicians who help transform them. However, most people confuse costume design with being a stylist, and it’s quite different. There’s an assumption, especially with contemporary costumes, that I’m just a shopper for actors. The nuance I put into making a character feel true involves so many pieces. From fit and fabric to whether or not the clothing is distressed or aged, building a character is not usually about making someone look “incredible” (unless that makes sense for their role). It’s about making them come to life.
Name 3 characteristics required to do your job well.
Compassion. Patience. Imagination.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
I wake up every morning excited to go to work, even when it’s at 3 a.m.
How do you define success?
I know I’ll still be doing this 40 years from now, and I couldn’t be more excited about what I’ll learn and create between now and then. For me that confidence is the greatest success.