Design for the Stage: First Steps

By Darwin Reid Payne | Go to book overview

production old clothes found in secondhand stores and out of attics rather than constructing costumes from new fabric and then having them aged and broken down after their completion. Some designers will in fact, when designing costumes that are required to show great use and age, find their materials in old ready-made garments and then, after taking these garments apart, recut them into new patterns for costumes completely different from their original purpose and use.

During the past few years there has been a trend away from brightly colored elaborate costumes and toward simplification in cut and design, especially in German or German-inspired productions. At the same time, there has been a marked interest in the use of heavily textured materials and fabrics. Designers are also working with fewer colors--and those decidedly greyer in tone--and with a greater number of permutations of those colors. The cinema version of Camelot used a distinctly monochromatic palette while making great use of a variety of highly textured woven materials.

There has also been a corresponding interest in newer materials, not only synthetic fabrics, but plastics, metals, furs, and leather as well. The introduction of fiber glass cloth and strands, as well as other plastic impregnated materials that harden when exposed to chemical treatment, have opened up whole new vistas of possibilities in costume construction not feasible even twenty years ago.

But, if there is one major trend discernible in the progress of costume design during these past several decades, it is this: the costume designer has become less and less just a dressmaker and more and more a highly creative and independent artist whose techniques and artistry extend much further than just knowing how to sew a straight seam, cut a pattern, or dye a piece of cloth.


§7 "The Art of the Theatre: The First Dialogue"

By E. Gordon Craig

Although written in 1905, this chapter from The Art of the Theatre, by Gordon Craig, still has power to influence the designer today; while styles and fashions have changed greatly, the conceptual basis of this statement still remains sound. Craig's designs, revolutionary in their day, are still not out of date now. And while the theater has changed greatly in almost every quarter, from then to now, much of what he has said still retains a certain freshness of expression and validity of viewpoint. Much has been made of his "impracticality"; but those who

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