Film School: Costume Design in Storytelling

Source: "How a Costume Designer Creates an Iconic Look | Crew Spotlight" - Film Radar

“Nothing is random. Everything in the frame is designed to tell one story.”

Film Radar looks at the ways costume designers help create characters and tell stories – and how their job requires a deep understanding of both:

  1. Script Analysis – getting inside the head of the character, to “set the time and the place”, as described by Daniel Orlandi, through wardrobe.
  2. Conversations with Director – Costume design is “a true collaboration,” says Deborah Nadoolman Landis, for which “the screenplay has clues” which should prompt several discussions.
  3. Research – pulling from reality, and in particular understanding how and why something is designed a certain way, in order to better collaborate with other departments (eg hair & makeup)
  4. Sketches – Michael Wilkinson notes that the camera’s ability to zoom in and show “little clues about who these characters are” means those “little details” take on big importance.
  5. Production – on big-budget films especially, outfits are manufactured: from multiple takes, to bringing authenticity to a scene, to helping an actor to create their performance.

Further viewing

Now You See It looks at one particular type of costume design:

As Henry Wilkinson observes, while it’s not uncommon for Hollywood and haute couture to meet nowadays, when it began in the 1950s, it was revolutionary – and its watershed moment was the meeting of two breakout stars in their respective worlds, Hubert de Givenchy collaborating with muse Audrey Hepburn:

Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth Carter (Malcolm X, Selma, Roots) explains the storytelling that went into her “feast for the eyes” in Black Panther (2018):