Bear with me. I know we’ve turned the calendar to March, but I’ve got February on the brain. February, film, and fashion that is. Blame it on the Academy Awards.
Elegantly styled, cool blue and soft yellow dresses blanketed the red carpet at this year’s Oscars, but what caught my attention was contrary to the glamour and gold. It was Mad Max: Fury Road, winner of this year’s award for Best Costume Design. The distressed clothing in the film, intended for survival in a dystopian society, is proof positive that not everything about apparel design needs to focus on beauty.
Welcome to the world of Costume Design! Fashion Design’s first cousin doesn’t respond to the needs or whims of each passing season. Rather, it answers to a production house, director, or actor. Costume designers are imagination specialists. Instead of focusing on style and looking to set future trends, they typically reflect the past – or a fictitious future in the case of Mad Max – and gain inspiration from a specific time or place.
Both are storytellers, using fabrics and soft materials to express their point of view. Yet they each target a different audience. Fashion designers integrate their knowledge of textiles and clothing with what’s happening in the world around them, using current events and trends as their inspiration. Their intent is to generate sales and clothe the public.
Costume designers communicate the story of one individual at a time, informing us of a character’s lifestyle, wealth, and social status by the clothes on his back.
Most colleges and universities teach Costume Design as part of the Drama department, giving students full exposure to the world of theatre. If your teen has a passion for fashion, but also loves the stage – or history – make sure you include Costume Design as part of your college research. Each of the colleges listed below offers a BFA in Costume Design.
Break a leg!
- Boston University, College of Fine Arts, School of Theatre
- Cal Arts, School of Theatre
- Carnegie Melon, School of Drama
- DePaul, The Theatre School
- Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts
- University of Florida, School of Theatre and Dance