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Costume Designer
Costume designers design the costumes for live performances and television and film productions. Costume designers need to ensure that the particular historical period of the performance is accurately reflected in the costumes, right down to the last accessory, including hats, shoes, gloves and even hairstyles.

Costume designers need to be able to work creatively within certain restrictions. Some period costumes need to look heavy, yet should be designed in such a way that the actors can move freely. This is especially important when action such as dancing or fencing form part of the performance. The designer also needs knowledge of fabrics in order to be able to depict the period accurately.

Those designers working for small companies often need to do the cutting and machining themselves. In larger companies specialists do this, but the designer must supervize the process and take responsibility for the final product. Most large organizations provide costume designers with sophisticated materials and well-equipped workrooms.

Costume designers often work on their own and decide for themselves where they want to work and also buy their own materials. In smaller enterprises, where costumes are designed and patterns and materials cut, one person does machine work, needlework and the designing of all the accessories. In larger organizations, such as film and television companies and performing arts councils, various people do these tasks.

After receiving information from the producer about the production, a designer does research on the style of clothing, the material used, the headgear, hairstyles and other relevant information on the specific period in which the production will take place. Once all the research has been done, designing the costumes can begin. Designers often have to use their imagination when designing the costumes for productions such as fairy-tales, fables, animated stories or mythological themes. The correct choice of material is very important to achieve a specific effect.

After the producer has approved the designs, the designer looks for the most suitable material and accessories. The designer keeps an eye on the process to ensure that all the instructions are carried out and the specifications are met. A cutter is responsible for drawing the pattern and cutting the material. They discuss the costume design with the designer in order to solve all possible problems. After all the actors' measurements have been taken, the patterns are drawn.

Sometimes costumes are made according to standard sizes. As soon as the cutter is satisfied that the pattern is correct, the material is cut according to the pattern. Machinists receive instructions from cutters. They are responsible for all the machine work such as stitching the different panels together and all the needlework involved. To finish off a costume, the machinist is also responsible for ironing it.

Milliners (makers of hats) receive sketches and materials from the designer that they use to make all the headgear and hats. The milliner also has to do some research on the fashion of the period concerned.

It is important that the headdress be designed in a manner so that it rounds off the effect of the costume as a whole.

Satisfying Aspects
- challenging work
- variety of work
- seeing the finished products in action
- being creative, within limits

Demanding aspects
- working to deadlines
- having to keep within creative constraints and budgets
- frustrations at not being able to find the correct fabrics and accessories
- having to be extremely good in a competitive and limited field

- artistic, with creative imagination
- ability to be creative within certain constraints, including budgetary constraints
- excellent eye for detail
- ability to transform ideas into practical concepts
- dexterity and some mechanical aptitude
- keen initiative and ability to get on well with others
- patience and ability to work well under pressure
- cutters must be able to transform a two-dimensional sketch into three-dimensional reality
- machinists should have an aptitude for needlework
- milliners must have good artistic abilities and dexterity

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate for a diploma course

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Mathematics, Visual Arts, Consumer Studies

Diploma: The N.Dip. Entertainment Technology: is offered at DUT and TUT

The N.Dip. Fashion Design is offered at CUT, CPUT, DUT, TUT, VUT, NMMU and UJ. Some private fashion-designing schools also offer in-service training.

- Television
- Performing arts councils
- Film companies
- Self-employment - freelance or contract work

CityVarsity Film & Television and Multimedia School
Tel: (0021) 423-3366

The Head
Department Entertainment Technology
Arts Faculty
Tshwane University of Technology
Private Bag X680
Pretoria, 0001