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Costume designer The ultimate career choice for anyone who loved playing dress-ups as a kid or has watched Marie Antoinette umpteen times just to swoon over the costumes, costume designing is a highly coveted profession and an integral part of the entertainment industry. Positions are hotly contested, but costume designers work on television series, films, theatre and ballet productions, advertising campaigns, music videos and live concerts so there is a large variety of work on offer for an enterprising, ambitious designer. From Marilyn Monroe’s show-stopping white dress in The Seven Year Itch to Marlon Brando’s leather biker ensemble in The Wild One and the matching all-white uniforms worn by the storm troopers in Star Wars – none of these classic movie moments would have been possible without a talented costume designer. Possessing an intimate understanding of the film’s script, plot and characters, costume designers work to create a mood, fulfil a plot theme and further develop a character, and sometimes end up creating an enduring style icon in the process. Learning to be a costume designer isn’t an easy feat, with most costume designers only hitting their stride after decades of study and work within the industry. Some complete tertiary studies, while others apprentice under senior designers. Many complete unpaid internships just to get a foot in the door, such is the competitive nature of the business. Apart from having the technical skills and vision to be able to sketch and create costumes, the ability to work well with others is paramount, as most costumes are designed and made in teams. While having creative flair and possessing drawing and sewing skills is a given, costume designers also need to be thoroughly practical in order to deliver within a certain timeframe and budget.

Having a good understanding of the functionality of the costumes you work on is also of great importance, as there is no point creating an elaborate, period-era costume if it restricts the actors from moving freely on the stage or set. One of the hardest working teams on set, costume designers don’t just fluff around with pretty clothes. Working ridiculously long hours for weeks or months on end, costume designers are expected to be flexible, available and willing to solve problems and update wardrobes at a moment’s notice. Despite the long hours and stresses that come with working in the entertainment industry, costume design can lead to the most incredible places – from the West End of London to New York’s Broadway, the back lots of Hollywood or the Sydney Opera House. You just might find yourself up on stage accepting an Academy Award. Better start writing your acceptance speech now.

The lowdown

Education or qualifications: Many costume designers complete an undergraduate degree in the performing arts, then a Masters in costume design. Experience required: Most costume designers need to develop a solid portfolio of work. You could gain experience by designing costumes for free for small productions or working as an intern with larger companies. Training: Training is often completed with the costume departments of theatre, film and television companies as unpaid interns or through paid apprenticeships under a well-known costume designer. Restrictions: None.

I can get paid for that?  

NOTE: This e-gallery is for press purposes only. No images or other copyrighted materials seen here may be reproduced. Contact patrick@smi...

I can get paid for that?  

NOTE: This e-gallery is for press purposes only. No images or other copyrighted materials seen here may be reproduced. Contact patrick@smi...

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