Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

USITT Design Showcase West 2009

Saturday was the big day for a handful of freshly-minted design MFAs.  UCLA hosted the USITT Design Showcase West showcase, featuring work from students from a wide array of universities, including UCLA, USC, Yale, University of Texas at Austin, North Carolina School of the Arts, and many others.  What’s cool about this event is that it puts the students in contact with people working in the industry.  You can shake hands, exchange information, and (hopefully) these new grads can get a job out of it, somehow!

The event was held at the Freud Playhouse, and all USITT-invited student exhibitors had booths where they could display their work.  Everything from sound design, to lighting design, to set design, to puppet design to costume design were represented.

In the entryway, costumes billowed in the breeze.

Inside, costumes were up on mannequins at the end of the rows of booths.  There were representations from all periods, and there were some kind-of fantasy costumes as well…

…Including this beautiful horse’s head!

There were a wide array of sketches and illustrations, done in many different styles:

This sketch, above, by June Suepunpuck of UCLA’s design program…

This dazzling costume rendering (above) was done with a scrapbooking tool that uses a dremel to cut the paper.  It’s like a printer, but it cuts the shapes.  Nadine Grant, of the University of Missouri Kansas City, is the designer responsible for these beautiful renderings.  She told the me name of the machine, but in my haze of awe, I forgot to write it down.  I will email her to get the name of this tool and post it here.  ** Update:  It’s called a Xyron Wishblade Personal Media Cutter – SO cool, and it costs about $350 – $400  **

These conceptual renderings (above) were done with found objects, by Kelly Kasper, also from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

And these head pieces in metal were made by Megan MacLean of Cal State Long Beach.

Look at the detail in her work!  Gorgeous!!

There was a luncheon held during all of this with keynote speaker Roy Christopher, an acclaimed production designer and art director.  He was quite engaging, and brought some interesting stories and experiences to the table.  I thought that the best part of his speech was when he let us in on his strategy for choosing a job.  He said (and I am paraphrasing), “You have three criteria: either the creative material is challenging, or the project involves working with people you’ve always wanted to work with, or the money is good.  If you can get two out of three, take the job.”  And I think he’s right.  So, thanks, Mr. Christopher, for passing that along to the next generation.

I picked up a lot of business cards, and met a lot of really nice people.  I look forward to having the opportunity to get these people some work!  Congrats to all the student exhibitors – excellent job!

— KMB

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