Costume Design – with addendum 2 June 2015

outlander-costume-display        Picture from costume display –                         @OutlanderFYC

I wrote this early on in the Outlander process and VERY early in my blogging experience. I wrote what is below as a ‘thank you’ to Terry and in appreciation for all she and her team do. We’ve seen Season 1 now – we’ve seen just what she and her team can accomplish and can look forward with delight at what is to come.

Nowhere in the description of ‘Costume Designer’ does it say ‘share vision with fans’ or ‘spend precious time interacting with fans’ or ‘put up with what are supposed to be fans of the show attacking the lead visionary that also happens to be my mate’. Fans have every right to express their opinion, excitement or disappointment – not to attack and be nasty. If all a person can do is be cruel, whine, stomp their feet verbally and just attack everything – I can only see them as  a petulant child (I don’t care how ‘old’ they are) and not a ‘fan’ at all. It’s not the opinion – it’s how you express it and portray yourself that tends to be the problem.

So here is a little blast from the past – my way of telling Terry that she is awesome!


The very talented Terry Dresbach, costume designer extraordinaire, asked a rather interesting question on Twitter this evening. Unfortunately, 140 characters is simply not enough to answer such a question adequately and I still need to learn to use the Tweet Longer function. Herself uses it often so it is something to aspire to. Now…the question was posed thus:  Terry  @OutlanderCostum (aka Terry Dresbach @draiochta14) Okay, here is a question for today. I would like to know what you think a costume designer does? What is the job?

So… COSTUME –  A style of dress, including garments, accessories, and hairstyle, especially as characteristic of a particular country, period, or people. (seems a good definition – though I bet most didn’t think hairstyle as part of the gig eh?) DESIGNER – One that produces designs

By these definitions, the ‘costume designer’ would render the designs of what the costumes would look like to be created for a particular production – in this case Outlander. Now…I did costumes for theatre in college. Well, I did a little bit of EVERYTHING (except directing) for theatre in college but I enjoyed costume a LOT. Doing it for a movie/TV show with a much bigger budget might be vastly different than what we did then, but Terry strikes me as a very hands on personality that really, REALLY wants this to be right! (of course the executive producer might have SOMETHING to do with that! *GRIN*) Yes, designing the ‘look’ for each character – not just for the period but for the personality of the character. Not just the clothes, but the ‘bits’ that make it pop or blend in. Picking something in period but that will still make the character look good and be appropriate for station or craft. So much research so it is all in your head when you need to draw on it. So that when you are walking past a ‘junk shop’ or second hand store and see the absolute perfect bauble for that incredibly difficult character you can snatch it up because you KNOW!

DETAIL            DETAIL        DETAIL! Knowing that while THAT plaid is perfect….all the lights will totally wash it out so you need something deeper or brighter. Realizing that some fabrics weren’t around so can’t be used no matter how great the costume might look (in my case it was a person just starting that did a whole costume in acetate which really does NOT hold up well to live theatre lighting so probably didn’t live past the one production – pity as the costume turned out looking awesome and could have been used again easily). Finding a team of driven, dedicated, talented people to help in this tremendous undertaking and working with all the other ‘leads’ in production to make sure costume is ready when and where it needs to be. Knowing the characters and really seeing in your head what the director wants….and sometimes having to argue that it just isn’t quite right! I guess, what I want to say is….costume is tough, demanding and SO rewarding. Terry or anyone else that does this full time are an integral and vital part of the whole. One of the (often) unsung heroes of a production. Having said that….the same goes for props, set design/dressing, lighting, sound, and so on. We all SEE the actors and they are crucial…but without the support system of costume and the rest….there wouldn’t be much of a show no matter how good they are. Cheers!