CDG - The Costume Designer

Spring 2017

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62 The Costume Designer Spring 2017 SCRAPBOOK Van Ramsey was hired to design the CBS television miniseries Lonesome Dove by writer and creator William Wittliff after traveling from Connecticut to Austin for a meeting. The decision was so swift there wasn't even time for him to return home for his clothes. "They bought me clothes at Dillard's," he chuckles. "I stayed in that hotel room and drew all day, and never having done a television show before, could not believe how hard it was. I knew what it was like to have no money and no time, but I didn't know what it was like to move so fast. Everyone thought they were making the greatest Western in history, except me. I thought they were crazy and I wanted to go home. All I wanted was for it to be period perfect, but Bill had all this research and said, "If it doesn't look like the research, I don't want to see it." In the end, Ramsey's design won an Emmy and became a benchmark for authenticity in western costume. The series also brought the genre back into the spotlight after years of languishing. Looking back on the experience, Ramsey says, "My god, how lucky I was to have this man guiding me to do the best work that I could do, when I didn't want to do it. To me, it's not about what Lonesome Dove was, it's about the friendships I formed which have become a lifelong support group for me: Bill, Anjelica [Huston], and producer Dyson Lovell. This is something money can't buy." Lonesome Dove Van Broughton Ramsey Illustration is courtesy of the Wittliff Collections, Texas State University

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