Costumes in Film


In the early years of filmmaking  (1900-1910) there was nothing such as a costume department. Actresses and actors provided most of their own gowns. Actors who had many wardrobes on their own were the ones who received more parts than others who had not. Producer Adolph Zukor introduced Americans in1912 to the concept of the film costume designer. Paul Poiret was the first couture designer who had designed the costumes for a French film called ‘The Loves of Queen Elizabeth”. Costume Rental Houses were established and became an important source.

Costume design plays a serious role in the movies. It is not just about the clothes: it has a narrative and visual mandate and it helps bring authentic characters to life. Not only in films, but also in theater, or opera, costumes help to support and tell the story. They give context to the personality of a character. Costume design is one of the director’s most effective tools for telling a story.

You need to look not only at the story, the time period, the location and social status of the characters, but also have to figure out whom they are, where they’re going and where they end up at the end of their journey. Costume design shows the journey of the character.

From the very beginning movies often have influenced fashion and created a trend. When a character and a film captures the public’s imagination, the costumes can create a worldwide fashion trend and influence global culture. Film icons are born when the audience falls in love with the people in the story.

Fashion and costume have one thing in common-both express identity but in a different way. Fashion tries to make women and men beautiful but often in film making stars look beautiful is not part of the assignment.

Unlike the products of the fashion industry, designed for our 3 dimensional world , film costumes are 2 dimensional, photographed through a lens that flattens an image.

As famous costume designer ADRIAN once observed,

“ The story of a gown worn before the cameras is a history of untiring work, skilled technicians, expert planning, and flawless execution. “