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Costume Design
Costume Design
Costume design is the envisioning of clothing and the
overall appearance of a character or performer.
Costume may refer to the style of dress particular to a
nation, a class, or a period. In many cases, it may
contribute to the fullness of the artistic, visual world
which is unique to a particular theatrical or cinematic
production. The most basic designs are produced to
denote status, provide protection or modesty, or
provide visual interest to a character. Costumes may
be for a theater, cinema, or musical performance but
may not be limited to such. Costume design should
not be confused with costume coordination which
merely involves altering existing clothing, although
both create stage clothes.
Four types of costumes are used in theatrical design:
historical, fantastical, dance, and modern.
Village festivals and processions in honor of
Dionysus amongst the ancient Greeks, are
believed to be the origin of theatre, and therefore
theatre costume. The sculpture and vase
paintings provide the clearest evidence of this
costume. Because of their ritualized style of
theatre many masks were used giving each
character a specific look and they varied
depending if they were used for comedic or
dramatic purposes. Some masks were
constructed with a cheerful as well as a serious
side on the same face in an attempt to indicate a
change in emotion without a change of mask. The
same is true for the Romans, who continued the
mask tradition, which made the doubling of roles
During the late Middle Ages in Europe,
dramatic enactments of Bible stories were
prevalent, therefore actual Christian
vestments, stylized from traditional
Byzantine court dress, were worn as
costumes to keep the performances as
re a l i s t i c a s p o s s i b l e . S t e re o t y p i c a l
characterization was key when clothing
performers for this style of theatre. In most
instances actors had to supply their own
costumes when playing a character found
in daily life.
Later, in Elizabethan performance during the
1500-1600s in England, costume became the most
important visual element. Garments were very
expensive because only the finest fabrics were
used. The majority of characters were clothed in
Elizabethan fashion, otherwise the costumes could
be divided into five categories; "Ancient", which
was out of style clothing used to represent another
period; "Antique", older additions to contemporary
clothing to distinguish classical characters;
Dreamlike, "fanciful" garments for supernatural or
allegorical characters; "Traditional" clothing which
represented only a few specific people, such as
Robin Hood, or "National or Racial" costumes that
were intended to set apart a specific group of
people but did not tend to be historically accurate.
"Ordinarily, fashionable garments were used in both comedy and
tragedy until 1727, when Adrienne Lecouvreur adopted the
much more elaborate and formal court dress for tragedy. Her
practice soon became standard for all tragic heroines" Major
actors began to compete with one another as to who would have
the most lavish stage dress. This practice continued until around
the 1750s when costumes became relevant to the character
again. Art began to copy life and realistic characteristics were
favored especially during the 19th century. For example, Georg
the second, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen took personal interest in
the theatre and began managing troupes. He advocated for
authenticity and accuracy of the script and time period, therefore
he refused to let actors tamper with their own costumes. He also
made sure the materials were authentic and specific, using real
chain mail, armor, swords, etc. No cheap substitutes would be
History References
a b c Eubank, Tortora, Keith, Phyllis G. (2005). Survey of Historic Costume.
New York: Fairchild Publications. p. 1.
Grimball and Wells, Elizabeth B. and Rhea (1925). Costuming a Play: InterTheatre Arts Handbook. The Century Co. p. 6. ASIN B0000D5ITV.
Brockett, Hildy, Oscar G., Franklin J. (2007). History of the Theatre. USA:
Pearson Education Inc. p. 358. ISBN 0-205-47360-1.
Obituary, The New York Times, 15 June 1880, p3
Theatrical Costumes
The Four types of costumes that are used in theatrical design:
historical, fantastical, dance, and modern.
From The National Theater in Paris France.
Historical Costume,
Modern Costume
Modern Costume
Dance Costume,
Dance Costume,
Dance Costume,
Fantastical Costume,
Fantastical Costume, Dance Costume,
Fantastical Costume,
Fashion Illustration
Fashion Illustration
Fashion Illustration is
the communication of
fashion that originates
with illustration,
drawing and painting.
commissioned for
reproduction in fashion
magazines as one part
of an editorial feature
or for the purpose of
advertising and
promoting fashion
makers, fashion
boutiques and
department stores
Fashion Illustration
Fashion Illustration has been around for
nearly 500 years. Ever since clothes have
been in existence and there was a need to
translate an idea or image into a garment
there has been a need for fashion
illustration. Not only do fashion illustrations
show a representation or design of a
garment but also served as a form of art.
Fashion illustration shows the presence of
hand and is said to be a visual luxury.
More recently, there has been a decline of
fashion illustration in the late 1930s when
Vogue began to replace its celebrated
illustrated covers with photographic images.
Laird Borrelli, author of Fashion Illustration
Now states,
Fashion Illustration
Past illustrators
Paul Iribe (1883–1935), Carl 'Eric'
Erickson (1891–1958), 'Erté' Romain
de Tirtoff (1892-1990), Christian
Bérard (1902–1949), Cecil Beaton
(1904–1980), Rene Gruau (1909–
2004), Irwin Crosthwait (1914–
1981), Lila De Nobili (1916–2002),
Kenneth Paul Block (1924–2009),
Andy Warhol (1928–1987), Antonio
Lopez (1943–1987), Joel Resnicoff
Paul Iribe
Andy Warhol
Bianca Raffaela
Present illustrators
There are hundreds of fashion
i l l u s t r a t o r s t o d a y, i n c l u d i n g
Francois Berthoud, Mats Gustafson,
Jean-Philippe Delhomme, David
Downton, Tanya Ling, Ruben Toledo,
Julie Verhoven, Kathr yn Elyse
Rodgers, Sarah Hankinson, Jennifer
Lilya, Jessica Mack, and Kime
Buzzelli. Between them these
artists have contributed work to
virtually every major international
fashion magazine as well as a
myriad of fashion businesses
including Barneys, Selfridges, Louis
Vuitton, Viktor & Rolf, Chanel, Coach,
and Burberry.
Bianca Raffaela is a London born
Italian artist. Her fashion illustrations
are a mix of modern realism and
Fashion Illustration
Fashion Illustration
Fashion Illustration
Fashion Illustration
Fashion Illustration proceeders
From A to B
The costume design process involves many steps and though they differ
from genre to genre a basic method is commonly used.
1.) Analysis: The first step is an analysis of the script, musical
composition, choreography, etc. Parameters must be established:
Indication of events happening before the piece took place if applicable
Geographical location
Day, month, year or specific season
Who the characters are regarding relationships and socio economics,
government and religious rule, and ethical conduct, marriage or family.
The function of each character in regards to protagonist, antagonist etc.
Dialogue mode of text
Texts action in sequence. This is used to create a Costume Plot or Action
Chart, which lists which characters are in what scene.
Theme of the text.
2.) Design Collaboration: An important phase in the process is meeting
with the director and fellow designers. There must be a clear
understanding of:
*Script/Text *Budget *Time table/Calendar
3.) Costume Research: Once guidelines are established, the next step
is to gather research.
A research outline is important to focus your attention, listing any
questions necessary to complete your study.
Use primary sources for the majority of your research; Such as,
museums, periodicals, newspapers, sculptures, paintings, etc.
4.) Preliminary Sketching and Color Layout: Once
enough information is obtained to begin drawing, a
preliminary sketch must be performed. Successful
preliminary sketching conveys an accurate depiction
Line, which will show the silhouette of the targeted piece
of clothing
Proportion, of not only the garment but also the actors
Detail, of not specifics but general ideas. Such as the
indication of what type of fabric or pattern may be
A color layout, using either fabric swatches, or paint
samples needs to be represented.
5.) Final Sketches: The final costume sketch can be
completed in any medium but must include:
*Name of text
*Name of character/actor
*Scene(s) in which costume is represented
*Signed signature of artist
*Swatch of fabric if being constructed
Fashion Croquis Figures
Croquis Figures
Follow these steps and
draw your own Croquis
After you got the right
proportions add some
mussel using contour
hatching lines.
Human Figure
Stick men steps
Human Figure
Regular length is 6 to 7
The belly button shod
be the center of your
Fashion Croquis Figures
are disproportioned 8 to
9 heads.
Human Figure
Contour Hatching
Draw 5 different body poses.
Need a model? Ask a friend to pose.
Draw 5 different body poses.
Need a model? Ask a friend to pose.
History Reference
A short time laps of female dresses thru out the century.