Film and TV Studio in London - Broadley Studio
Film and TV Studio in London - Broadley Studio
Film and TV Studio in London - Broadley Studio

Costume Design: Elevating Wardrobe Beyond "Just Clothes"

June 6, 2024 by Naz Foroodian

In the realm of movies, TV dramas, and videos, visuals reign supreme. Our brains process visual information a staggering 60,000 times faster than text or audio, with 90% of transmitted information being visual.

Despite this, costume design, a crucial visual element providing insights into the characters we watch, often remains a misunderstood and underappreciated art form. After all, what would Strictly be like without the costumes?

How did this oversight occur?

Character Creation

Over a century of movie-making, the process of character creation from script to screen has evolved, albeit against a backdrop of social and technological changes.

However, the essence remains unchanged: movies revolve around people. Characters, with their captivating narratives, hold our attention and fuel our fascination. And every character needs attire - a wardrobe that defines their persona and bolsters their role.

costume design and green screen
Costumes communicate

Even the simplest garment can carry profound meaning.

The Costume Designer

To excel in costume design, professionals must embody a multitude of roles.

They are storytellers, historians, social commentator, and anthropologists. Moreover, they possess creative acumen, social adeptness, organisational prowess, and problem-solving skills. It's an arduous yet immensely fulfilling craft for those dedicated to cinematic storytelling.

Communicating Through Costumes

Costumes, akin to language, communicate on a subconscious level.

Through culturally recognised cues, symbols, and clichés, costume designers breathe life into characters, transcending them from mere words on a page to multifaceted individuals. As the saying goes,

"The costume designer gives the clothes to the actor, the actor gives the character to the director, and the director tells the story."

Costume Design: The Poor Cousin

However, there's a growing tendency to overlook the significance of costumes, particularly in low-budget productions. Tight financial constraints pose a perennial challenge, with smaller teams and limited resources becoming the norm.

Unfortunately, many directors and producers fail to grasp the magnitude of costume design - its meticulous process, associated costs, and the upkeep required to maintain wardrobes throughout filming. Astonishingly, the impact of costumes is often overlooked in UK film schools, contributing to a stark divide between high-profile productions with lavish budgets and smaller-scale endeavors where creativity must compensate for financial limitations.

Costumes Transform

Never underestimate the power of costumes and the visual allure they bring to the screen.

Clothing, no matter how seemingly ordinary, serves as a potent creative instrument, conveying subtle yet profound messages. As Keira Knightley aptly observes,

"All through my life what I’ve loved doing is watching movies. I love the escapism of film, I love stories. So it is incredible to be able to be in them as much as I am, to see them from the first stitch in a costume to the end product."

In the words of Tim Burton,

"What’s great about costume is it’s the visual representation of the internal side of people."

And Meryl Streep succinctly captures the essence, stating,

"On every film, the clothes are half the battle in creating the character. I have a great deal of opinion about how my people are presented. We show a great deal by what we put on our bodies."

FAQ: Why is Costume Design Important?

As you embark on your cinematic journey, remember the transformative power of costume design.

It's not merely about clothes; it's about crafting compelling narratives and breathing life into characters on the silver screen.

Remember, costume design is:

1.  So much more than just clothes
2.  Central to character creation and design
3.  Vital to telling stories and crafting narratives
4.  Essential when communicating look, tone, feel, style etc to your audience
5.  Implicit in bringing your creative vision to life

Costumes are a superpower. So don't overlook them and a costume designer in your production - you may pay a heavy price.

Broadley Studios - THE Production Experts

When it comes to the studio production, you can rely on Broadley Studios as we have a wealth of experience integrating costumes into a host of productions.

To get a flavour of what we can do for you, check out our latest showcase and studio specs. Or take a virtual tour of our studios.

To find out more about our studios, production services, our work with costume designers and how we can help you and your shoot, please call us on +442077255858 or email us at [email protected].

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