A good name for a costume design class. “The psychology of dressing actors.”

17 Dec

I’ve been helping out on and off on a new television series taping in Chicago (more details to come) and I can’t help but compare and contrast the difference between working on wardrobe in advertising, whether it’s print or television and working in film or a television series.  Something I had never had to take into consideration in advertising is, “How would this make the actors feel.”  Especially in print, how the model feels about what they are wearing doesn’t really come into play.   There are some exceptions to this.  For instance, if your subject is someone who is featured in an article in a magazine for something they have done, of course you want them to like what they’re wearing.  But when it comes to advertising, it’s not about them.  They’re there to compliment the product or in television commercials, to sell the product.  In print, it’s not really about looking cute or stylish unless that has to do with the product, it’s about the entire image as a whole making sense.  In television commercials, it’s obviously a little more fluid, but the same rule of thumb goes.

When I shop for advertising assignments, I’m thinking about what I think works, what I think the client will think works, and what I think the photographer/director will think works.  In film and television, you can go right ahead and move all those people aside and put the actor at the top of your list.  You’re caressing their ego with fine cashmere for every item you buy for them.  In the end, if they don’t feel 100% confident in what they’re wearing, even as they’re walking to set, you’re making a frantic run to the stores.

To the actor, how good they look in every scene gets them the next job.  To the costume designer, every detail in their clothing tells you something about their character and sometimes all those details don’t please the actor’s taste.  How do we resolve this? The costume designer becomes really good at the psychology game to make the actors feel comfortable and confident.  Don’t you think it would be a good class?

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