Design Conventions: Costume

Design Conventions: Costume

Overview of Costume Design

  • Costumes are an essential aspect of production design, contributing to the visual aesthetics while providing information on character roles, historical periods, and narrative contexts.
  • The design and colour of costumes can greatly influence a character’s perception. For example, darker colours might signify villainous characters, while lighter ones might represent purity or innocence.
  • Costume design should cooperate with other design elements like set design, lighting, and makeup. It should contribute to a cohesive visual style for the whole production.

Historical and Contextual Relevance

  • Historical accuracy is crucial in costuming if the play is set in a specific era. Understanding the fashion trends, societal norms and materials used during that period is vital.
  • Specific clothing used as costumes, like uniforms, could quickly communicate a character’s profession or status to an audience. A doctor’s white coat or a police officer’s uniform can instantly and visually convey these roles.

Costumes Reflecting Social Status

  • The social class and wealth of a character can also be shown through costumes. Expensive-looking, well-kept clothes typically suggest a wealthier character, while worn-out, simple wear would usually indicate a less affluent one.

Costume Changes and Continuity

  • Costume changes can depict a change in time, place, or a character’s emotional state. A character can transition from younger to older or a season can change from summer to winter through costume alterations.
  • Continuity is essential when dealing with multiple performances of a play. Ensure that costumes remain consistent and undamaged during the production run.

Practical Considerations in Costume Design

  • Designers should be aware of the practical considerations when designing costumes. The performer must be able to move and perform in the costume without restrictions or discomfort.
  • The costume should also be designed with the performer’s safety in mind, avoiding materials or designs that may cause accidents or injuries on stage.

Symbolism and Visual Aesthetics

  • Symbolism can be incorporated into a costume design. A particular accessory or a specific colour can symbolise a character’s personality trait, a plot point, or a theme.
  • Always take account of how costumes will appear under different lighting conditions, and ensure they contrast well with the background to ensure the character visibility to the audience.