People care what we look like?
In preparation for The Weaver’s Tales, I’m pleased to share with you reflections from our various collaborators. We are delighted to be working with a costume designer for the first time. Below, the talented Emma Weber shares with us her views and process in designing the look for our Fearless Boy, Loveless Girl, Mother/Father, and The Weaver. And check out those sketches! She’s amazing.
I have always approached design from both an idealistic and intellectual point of view. First I read and break down the script and come up with loose ideas and make a list of areas of research to explore. In my research I use anything from getty images, good ol’ google, vintage magazines, and some long hours clocked at the library. In my research, if I am doing a show with a very specific period, I like to look for styles of garments that people may not be familiar with, and pull from the recent past and future of the period to indicate the mind set of any given character. This helps to create a very well rounded, dimensional material world for the show. From there I meet with the directors and find out what they want to see or invoke with costume and finalize my ideas accordingly – getting first sketches, then swatches and renderings approved so that I can get to work. I set out to create costumes that make people ask questions of the production, which in turn fosters a more inquisitive nature in people in general (questioning the given) leading to a better understanding of the world and our place within it. This is especially important for a show with minimal dialogue.
For The Weaver’s Tales, the main tools I put toward this aim were specific period references, color, layering, and texture. For this particular show, the supernatural characters are delineated by their transformative nature and a dynamic lack of period:The Weaver can work with her voluminous cloak to convey her various disguises, but the cloak then becomes indicative of spider wings when you see the spindly inner costume.
Similarly, the snow maiden’s costume changes as she does. Another important aspect of the snow maiden and grandfather Frost costumes is that they are not swathed in furs and robes, as they are in traditional Russian depictions, but dressed very minimally. I wanted to show their supernatural nature by not having them dress for protection from the arctic weather, but to dress them as if they are unaffected by it – they are its cause after all.
The human characters are tied together by rural Georgian period references, an earthy color palate (both of which tie them to their surroundings) and the use of layers to convey a desire for protection. The mother is contained by a tight rigid bodice, while the boy wears very simple clothes of thin insubstantial fabrics. This dichotomy of masculine form and drapey garments alludes to his outward vulnerability and inward lack of fear. The minimal appearance of seams/tailoring in his garments also tie him aesthetically to the snow maiden.
And of course after buying fabric, draping mockups of the costumes, fittings, and alterations, it culminates in a visual that supports the vision of the directors, and the music of the 5th House Ensemble. – Emma Weber
Fifth House Ensemble