Costume Fittings from the costumers point of view – a guest post by AdultBeginner
AdultBeginner is a treasure I recently discovered surfing the world wide web, a blog you immediately should add to your blogroll! So when I thought I saw some signs of the sewing-fitting-business hidden between the lines of her anonymous blogposts, I took a leap of faith, and asked her to write a guest-post here on Tights and Tiaras. Enjoy!
Oh, and let me introduce her properly, by her own brilliant pen: ”The Adult Beginner started taking ballet less than a year ago at age thirty-two. If you think that sounds ridiculous, you should see her blog!”
Let this post convince you that’s exactly what you should do! Enjoy!
Le Lac des Poulet, starring the amazing AdultBeginner. Click the picture to read the whole story
Well, Gentle Reader, it appears that Henrik, the mastermind behind Tights and Tiaras, has done a little deducting and figured out The Adult Beginner’s day job.
Very clever, that one.
So, here’s a little guest post about costumes to distract Henrik and his sleuth-y ways. Yes, it’s true, the Adult Beginner is a pattern-maker for a major Industry costume house, working on things that run the gamut from theme park parades to major motion pictures.
When you make costumes you eventually need to try them on the wearer.
And sometimes hilarity ensues.
Like the time I was fitting a guy for a student opera. In a pair of white tights. He looked a little unconvinced but dove right in, bless him. And by dove I mean almost literally. He attacked those tights from every angle! It was a fierce-some kicking struggle! An epic battle of somersaults that ranged from the couch to the floor back to the couch, with me collapsed in a helpless heap of hysterical laughter, occasionally catching my breath long enough to yell out tips like, “No! One leg at a time! Ahahahahaaaa!”
Somehow both he and the tights survived the carnage, and we got him properly encased, both legs and right side out. After that fitting, he was a tights-wearing pro, able to dress himself before every show, no problem-o.
Sometimes fittings are less hilarious and more exasperating. Like the time I was fitting a back-up dancer for a concert tour in a 1970′s disco look. Got her all done-up in her pants and halter top, had her do a few moves to try out the fit, and asked her how did everything feel? She said, “Something’s wrong with the pants.” I asked were the pants too tight in the waist? Or the hip? Was her movement restricted? She said, “No. They look bad. Why are they so high up on my body? Can’t you make the waist be here?” gesturing to a point just barely above her crotch.
I pointed to the costume sketch on the wall and said, “The pants are designed with a high waist. See? It’s the 1970′s? That’s how they wore their pants back then, yeah?”
She looked blank.
She said, “but they look bad.”
Which was when I had to get all lecture-y and explain costume theory. “Your costume,” lectured I, “is designed to evoke a certain time period. The Disco Era. Your costume helps the audience identify the setting of the piece you are dancing, and it helps you transform fully into your character. After all, it’s not You who is wearing these high-waisted pants, it’s Your Character. Who is from the 1970′s and thinks high waists are groovy. Ok? The pants are a tool, for you, to help you get into character!” I enthused smilingly. She frowned. Right at this moment the costume designer popped into the fitting and said, “Oh! You look fabulous! How do you feel?!” Dancer said, “um, I don’t like high-waisted pants.” to which the costume designer replied, “Well, get used to it, Girl! That’s exactly how I want your character to look!” and popped right back out of the fitting. This actually comes up a lot, with dancers, actors, singers, all kinds of performers. The issue of ‘what I like’ without any thought to ‘what my character likes.” I wish schools would throw in a class or two on how performers can use their costumes to enhance their performances, but maybe the Adult Beginner is just a crazy dreamer.
Anyway, barring the occasional un-imaginative sort, I must say I really enjoy fittings with dancers. Let me generalize a little and say: Dancers are excited to be in the fitting, thrilled to be working, and delighted at having a garment made just for them. Often a dancer will have memories of a parent making their earlier dance gear, so they like to talk about the process. Costumers love that. And dancers are just adorable!
Wearing dance themed t-shirts, for example. How adorable! I mean, other professions don’t really do that. You don’t see cashiers wearing shirts that say, ‘I Make Change, Yo!’ I don’t have any shirts that say, ‘Cutter/Fitter, Hells Yes!’ and yet, among the many layers a dancer sheds before trying on a new costume there is more often than not an ‘I Heart Dancin’!’ sweater with the neck cut out.
I also, wrote a guest post. Check it out on no less than adultbeginners blog…