March Costume Corner
Go behind the scenes with our Costume Director, Corinna Bohren, as she guides us through the construction of one of the fabulous creations that will be worn by the bawdy social climber Kitty Packard (Susannah Biller) this March in Dinner at Eight. Read last month’s entry here!
From the Desk of Corinna Bohren, Costume Director:
The sewing machine motors are rumbling, the number of finished garments ready to go to the theater is growing, and slowly the show is taking shape in final fabric, our Kitty cupcake included. It took several people to get her ruffles all cut out, edged, and applied to the garment that the draper had created. Team members are in and out of the fitting room with the singers making sure that everything from the shoes, to the hats, from the jewelry to the undergarments all work with the various costume looks and fulfill the design. Every detail counts and no detail is too small to ensure perfection.
Kitty (Susannah Biller) came in for her final-fabric fitting and after she was encased in the pink ruffle extravaganza we started to offer her rhinestone bracelets to try. She took every last one in a flurry of delight. As we have said all along, more is more with Kitty and there is certainly more in all of her looks. Rhinestones? White and pink. Feathers and fake fur? You betcha! Hot pink silk and tulle? Yards upon yards of it. The fitting room takes on the mood of the singer and character that they are playing and from the instant Kitty walks in the door we all go up an octave.
Our goal is to bring just as much visual wow to the back row of the house as to the front, even if those details might read differently in different seats. We also want the artists to feel fantastic and so the details matter. It may seem like 3/8” is negligible, but it can be a world of difference for a singer who is about to stand in front of thousands of people and sing their heart out. Even though the 5/8” ribbon around the neckline of Kitty’s robe may not be visible from the back row, the flower made from feathers at her waist most certainly will be. While the scale of the prints, or the décor might be different from streetwear, we want just as much wow-factor standing a foot away as sitting 50 feet away.
Even the insides of the garments are finished with skill and thought. On Kitty’s second robe we have used a technique called French Seams to enclose all of the raw edges. It is a finishing used largely on higher end lingerie in the real world. In addition to having attractive seams, we also must be resourceful about keeping seam allowance in the clothes so that they can be sized and worn by another singer in the future. Some of the costumes in stock have been used for decades, and this particular piece will likely be worn by three more people in the next two years.