CDG - The Costume Designer

Summer 2019

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Page 37 of 59

The weather was cool but the atmosphere was warm this spring at the Costume Society of America's symposium in Seattle. From April 15-20, 220 attendees shared new research in dress, success- ful museum exhibits, and displayed cutting-edge techniques in construction and embellishment. The theme was "The Pacific Rim & Beyond: Diffusion and Diversity in Dress," but presenta- tions by over 100 speakers covered a broad range of topics. There were fascinating discussions about the Korean hanbok, Japanese kimono, and Chinese cheongsam, but also diversity of dress in Africa, Queer fashion, Muslim modest dress, and Stout fashions of the 1930s, as well as performance topics ranging from dance to Shakespeare. There is the impression that the CSA caters to museum cura- tors and university scholars—and many were in attendance. But Costume Designers, fashion designers, milliners, and hobbyists also were present. There was even an individual who owned a walk-around costume company. Everyone was unified by their enthusiasm for dress, over the centuries and all over the world. They took delight in discussing arcane bits of knowledge. As Costume Designers, these details are uniquely relevant as one never knows when a bit of costume minutia will inform a charac- ter and bring them to life. The Costume Society gives out a yearly Costume Design award. This year, it was awarded to Amy Andrews Harrell (IA Local 829) who designed the Civil War costumes for the PBS television series Mercy Street. She gave a charming and funny presentation about the joys and pitfalls of working in TV, from finding original fabric from the time period, to late casting (the lead actress was cast four days before shooting), to working with wonderful actors and crew members. Harrell also mentioned that she sometimes thinks of CSA members as the voice in the back of her head as she's doing research, to remind her to be as true to the period as she can, even under challenging circumstances. Besides oral presentations, there were displays of clothing created using modern technology, from 3D printing and laser cutting, to digital textile printing and digital patterns. Local indig- enous people, the Coast Salish, displayed their weave work, as well as vendors such as milliners, corset makers, and a covered button maker and a belt maker. There were booksellers special- izing in costume and fashion as well. There was also a goldmine of online resources such as The Fashion Map which lists fashion and textile exhibitions and events around the world (www.the- and Unravel, a podcast about fashion in history and daily life ( It is important as one moves through a career in Costume Design to return to the well of inspiration, the CSA symposium was a rare opportunity to do so with like-minded people. For more information on the Costume Society, go to cos- Their next national symposium takes place in New York City from June 3-7, 2020, at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Research, Costume, Fashion! By Marcy Froehlich The Costume Society of America 38 The Costume Designer Summer 2019 Lotta Yanong of The Fashion Map (L) with keynote speaker, Akiko Fukai (R) Textile printing, "The Revival of History" by Elahe Saeidi (Louisiana State University) and Tina Korani (San Jose State University) Laser cut piece entitled "When You Call a Black Man Hostile," created by Kelly L. Reddy-Best, Ph.D.

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