Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thrifty Costume Design Part IV: The Fittings

After I've gone through the process of choosing clothes to represent my sketched designs, it's time for the moment of truth. Will these clothes actually work, or not? You've measured, you've sized, but will the clothes fit the actor?

To refresh: the Mariana sketch. She's a girl in love with a man who doesn't want her. Why? Who wouldn't want this hot babe?! Well, it's complicated. Mariana's a nice girl with a bit of an edge, she hasn't been around the block-but she knows where the block is. This both attracts and repels Angelo who is desperately trying to put on a front of pious respectability.


Here we have the pulled costume ready to be fit, very similar to the sketch. You don't always find what you want when searching Costume Stock, but I get lucky more often than not. It's a similar skill to finding bargains at the thrifts. I also usually grab a couple back up options in case something doesn't work or fit at all. In this case, since everything was pretty perfect, I only brought an extra overskirt and an extra pair of shoes.


The next step is to drag these clothes, plus the couple backup choices, to the rehearsal hall to do fittings. We do them at rehearsal so I can see all the actors at one centralized location since they are always scheduled to be there for specific blocks of time. I make appointments with the Stage Manager a day or two before and I get the schedule emailed to me the night before. In the morning my intrepid assistant and I load up Scooter Subaru with the clothes, shoes, and accessories for the actors we'll fit that afternoon. I usually do anywhere from 5-7 fittings in an afternoon, they usually take 20-30 minutes. In addition to the time these 5-7 people usually each have more than one costume-sometimes as many as 3 or 4. On average that means hauling 15-20 multi-pieced costumes to rehearsal, packing and unpacking the car, and we try to keep it all organized and relatively wrinkle free. It's a good thing I own a station wagon!

At rehearsal I meet Vanessa, the actor playing Mariana, for our fitting. First, we try on two other costumes. She has a couple scenes in the beginning of the play as a general townsperson and as a prostitute. After we get those clothes squared away, it's on to the good stuff.



First a big thank you to Vanessa for permission to photograph her fitting and to write a blog post about it!  Second-It works, it works, it works! The foundation of the costume is great, it just needs some fine tuning to take it to the next level. As you can see the blouse fits perfect. The skirt is going to be taken up an inch or two in the front to land above her knee and stay the same length in the back to follow the line of  the bustle. We are also going to stitch a bar tack on the zipper in the place we want the zipper to stay open. We don't want it creeping open on her while she's busy onstage. Actors should always be able to wear their costume with ease.


The suspenders were adjusted on the corset to sit in the right place on her body and will be stitched in place. Notice on the corset there is a gap between the edges of the lacing. My assistant and I will put a fabric placket behind that so we don't see the blouse and skirt business underneath. We'll also tack all of the overskirt draping so that it will stay in the same place every night. We'll probably also add a bustle pad to the back of the over skirt skirt to give it more fullness.

Now I have to say, that every thing looks great, but I am not as jazzed about those boots as I thought I would be. I think that they look kind of clunky and are not sexy enough.  Combined with the bustle, the shoes widen the line of the costume-which is definitely not something any of us want.

So we switched it up and tried on a pair of boots we had picked out for her other costumes. So. Much. Better. Vanessa looks taller and the costume looks less cumbersome. These have a much "sassier" heel which is right for her character.


These are a pair of Fluevog boots I pulled out of stock. They have been around the block, but being Fluevogs, they are still in great shape. Likely I will do something to "Steampunk" them up, either paint the heel and toe,  or add some buckles or something. Likely, too Vanessa will wear these for the entire show so I need to do something to distinguish the boots for the other characters.

Only a few more days until our first dress rehearsal! Now it's time to do all of the notes from this fitting and the others. I will probably not have time to write an in-depth post about Costuming next week but I will post some pictures of our progress before we open the show on the 18th.



1 comment:

  1. This has been so much fun watching you develop the costume and actually see it on the actress. What great posts!

    ReplyDelete