What is a Costume Designer?

A film or theater performance requires a large number of people, many of whom are never seen the audience in the final product. One of the people who works behind the scenes is a costume designer. A costume designer is the person in charge of creating or obtaining the wardrobe and props that are required for the characters’ outfits in the performance. A costume designer aims to capture a character’s personality or social status while also designing costumes that are appropriate for the ambiance and time period of the performance.

Depending on whether the garments will be used for stage or film productions, costume designers consider a variety of factors. Costumes designed for long-running theatrical productions, such as a Broadway show, must be both durable and washable. Theatrical costume design must look good under stage lighting and allow the actor or actress to quickly change costumes if necessary. Some of these qualities are taken into account in film costume design, but the garments are often more intricately detailed and there is less of a need for quick-change options.

A costume designer is usually hired as a freelancer, a residential designer, or an academic designer. A freelance costume designer is hired on a project-by-project basis and is not always required to work on one production at a time. One theater or company hires a residential costume designer to work on their costumes and run their costume shop. In addition to creating and maintaining costumes for the school’s theatrical productions, academic designers are often professors at universities.

A costume designer, on the other hand, does more than just create costumes. They also collaborate with hair and makeup artists to bring a director’s vision of a character to life. Costume design is a unionized field, with both the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and United Scenic Artists representing it. Although nearly every major ballet, opera, and film company uses union workers, not every production company has a contract with these unions, and many designers are not unionized.