Costume Designer

Get creative with costume design

From the beautiful dresses worn in Marie Antoinette to the barely-there armor of 300, costume design is one of the most important, and critically recognized, aspects of film production. Costume design is both creative and detail-oriented. A movie costume designer, if they are good at their job, can hope to win critical acclaim with an Oscar of their own for well-executed and eye-catching costume design.

Some costume designers go to a costume design school such as the one at the University of California in Los Angeles, while others are self-taught and have established their reputation elsewhere. Either way, movie costume design is a fun and functional artistic endeavor that almost any person would count themselves lucky to be a part of.

Becoming a Costume Designer

First off, in order to get into costume design, you have to be very, very detail oriented. Some costumes are simple, but others are very complex. Take the clothing worn in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, for example; even the designs on Russell Crowe's buttons were period-accurate replications of naval uniform buttons worn in the 18th century by English captains. Costume designers have been known to pore over old photographs, illustrations and manuscripts in order to accurately recreate the most intricate details of a period piece's costume.

Most people learn these skills in classes at costume design school. The curriculum associated with costume design covers the history of clothing and grounds the costume designer in authentic, historical clothing styles, as well as giving the costume designer a free hand to create interpretations of the clothes of the period.

Costume designers need to work closely with hair stylists and makeup artists to coordinate the overall look of a character. In period pieces and other costume-heavy film genres such as science fiction, it can be hard to say where costume design lays off and hair and makeup begins.

Freelance Costume Design

Some people do very well as freelance or amateur costume designers who replicate the costumes and regalia of favorite movies for fans. Internet and catalog sales of these replicas can garner the costume designer a fairly large amount of money and establish their name in the world of costume design. Though rare, it is not unheard of for freelance costume designers to be asked to work on Hollywood films.

More often, independent film producers or independent film directors will ask the freelance or amateur costume designer to work with them on their next digital film, thus establishing the costume designer as a bona fide professional in his or her own right, something that film critics will notice, especially if the costumes are particularly good. A good eye for fabric and a steady hand at the sewing machine (as well as long hours) are required for costume design.

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