This week the Media and Art of Fashion Design class took a mini field trip to Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts costume design shop. It was really interesting to learn about what happens behind-the-scenes of SMU productions. When we first arrived we were greeted by Professor Stephens in the Green Room where she spoke to us about the amount of work that goes into designing costumes for every actor on stage. She also spoke about the importance of getting the costumes perfect in order to help the audience fully understand the story and how the stage lighting can significantly impact the colors of the fabrics. The designers need to put thought into how the costumes will appear on stage with different lighting and different viewpoints from the audience. Meadows puts on at least seven plays and several dance shows every year. That’s a lot of costumes that need to be designed!
Every costume has to be tailor-made to fit each actor perfectly, so they need to be remeasured quite often, especially guys who are still growing! Since this takes so much time, effort, and money, the costumes are sometimes reused and refurbished. They have numerous of options to chose from with a wide array of hats, shoes, clothing, and unused fabrics. Professor Stephens also took us under the stage and showed us the trap doors, where the orchestra gets on stage and storage for more costumes.
When designing costumes for live performances, you need to think ahead and always have backup plans just incase something goes wrong. When creating the costumes, they often times try to eliminate zippers and buttons, because it takes longer to put on and take off. Sometimes, actors need to be back on stage within a few seconds. This was a really fascinating experience and I am so happy we got to see and learn what the costume department at SMU is like.
To learn more about the upcoming events at Meadows School of the Arts, visit https://www.smu.edu/Meadows/NewsAndEvents/Calendar
“Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story.”- Mason Cooley