CDG - The Costume Designer

Winter 2018

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46 The Costume Designer Winter 2018 1999 1999 2001 My first film was The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Besides Alan Arkin giving an Academy Award-nominated performance, the cinematographer was the legendary James Wong Howe, who was then nearing the end of his long and illustrious career. Howe at that time had a reputation of being demanding and tough. He wasn't. Howe was a perfec- tionist. Every setup was approached with a forceful attention to detail and worry. Worry that he might not achieve the perfection he was searching for. What came across as demanding and being a taskmas- ter was anxiety. Here was this artist who treated his almost last film as if it was his first. Watching him was a lesson that I never forgot. I hoped that I would always work with the same dedication and intensity. I don't know if I achieved Howe's artistry. But I never stop trying. It's the only way to work. These are my thoughts to a new designer starting out in 2018. I don't know of any better advice. I am so grateful and fortunate to have had such a good teacher. All jobs are hard when you start. Sometimes the things you think are going to be easy aren't easy at all. It depends on the star, the producer, the situation. Sometimes it seems very hard and you just breeze right through. I never think about it being difficult. In fact, I like it when it's something I've never done before. It's a little scary, but at the same time it's more interesting than just doing the same thing again. My advice is I never think anyone should just start off as a Costume Designer. It's good if you can work with somebody you admire. You might think, "Oh, this is not for me." You just never really know until you're in the middle of it all. I was lucky. I started out working in the studios with two or three really well-known designers, so it was fun to watch them, and they all worked very differently from each other. You learn in a hurry what not to do, and just watch. Use it like school. In terms of a career highlight, I think you just can't wait for the next one. And, at this point in life I like to work, but now you just get a little more tired. I'm doing a huge Broadway show right now that's just making me crazy it's so big. Albert Wolsky I don't really have any advice. I can only say what I like to do. I like to create a concept for the overall look and then I deal with the look of each character. I like to start from the head, as one cannot imagine a costume without having in mind a face. The body and clothes come next. A Costume Design is the overall look of a character. I think a designer has to have knowledge not only about the cut and the making of clothes but also the basic techniques of makeup and hair to be able to communicate better one's own ideas and suggestions to achieve a harmonious look with the makeup and hair collaborators. Milena Canonero Bob Mackie Photos: Getty Images

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