In 1983, Bhanu Athaiya brought pride and glory to India as she won the Academy Award for Best Costume Designer, becoming the first Indian to win an Oscar as a costume designer. She started out as an artist and later discovered her talent and passion for costume design and fashion, which eventually paved the way for her rewarding career as a film costume designer.
If you aspire to follow in the footsteps of the iconic Bhanu Athaiya Oscar winner and establish yourself as a costume designer, you have come to the right place. This blog will take you through the various aspects of being a costume designer and tell you how to get into costume design.
What does a Costume Designer Do?
Firstly, before we get into how to become a costume designer, let us take a look at their day-to-day responsibilities, which include:
- Designing, creating or purchasing appropriate costumes for production as the head of the costume team.
- Working efficiently within the budget and the time frame.
- Scheduling fittings with actors and supervising alterations and repairs, if any.
- Educating the actors and stagehands on the proper care of the garments.
Skills All Costume Designers Need
You will need certain skills to fulfil the responsibilities mentioned earlier effectively. Here are a few skills that will make you a successful costume designer.
An Artistic Disposition
Creating blueprints, which is a fundamental part of the costume designing process for costumes requires sketching skills, both freehand and computer-assisted ones. Therefore, artistic ability is considered one of the essential costume designer skills.
In recent times, computer design programs in the costume design industry are gaining popularity. Digitally produced mock-ups are on the rise. In such a scenario, software skills are more critical than ever.
Passion for the Field
As a costume designer, you must be passionate about design and interested in clothing and fashion across different time periods and locations. You also need to possess good research skills as you will have to collect and compile reference material before working on your design.
A comprehensive undergraduate costume designer course will provide you with a solid foundation and a thorough understanding of the intricacies of this field. Additionally, you will learn the above-mentioned costume designer skills and more.
Make sure to take a well-informed decision regarding the course you wish to pursue. Conduct thorough research and consider your interests, requirements and aspirations before settling on a university.
To that end, look into the BSc. in Fashion and Apparel Design course offered by the JD School of Design. This three-year programme provides students with valuable insights into the technical and aesthetic aspects of the fashion industry.
It also aims to enhance analytical and critical thinking skills. The updated curriculum will prepare students to succeed in this highly dynamic industry.
To be eligible to pursue an undergraduate degree, students need to clear 10+2 with an aggregate of over 50%. Also, students from any stream background can choose costume design as a career.
Build Your Profile
Having an impressive profile as a costume designer will make your entry into the professional world easier. Enrolling in online courses and attending workshops are two ways to enhance your skills. Here are some other steps you can take to build your skill set and gain experience.
One of the best ways to gain work experience is to take up internships in one of the companies that supply costumes for the stage. You can try for a position as a costume assistant, which will provide you with sufficient job training. This will enable you to move up the professional ladder.
You can acquire experience through the following means as well:
- Theatre and film productions by students
- Working as a temporary assistant or on TV and film sets
By freelancing, you can keep in touch with your skills and get valuable experience in the real world. You will gain familiarity with the functioning of the industry and client communication.
As a freelance fashion designer, you can choose to work independently on personal projects for sale or work for companies on a contract basis.
Remember to put together a portfolio of your best work and past successes. This will reassure your clients of the quality of your work.
Take the time to establish connections and build your professional network. This will come in handy while finding a job, supplier or client. Having references always help as it increases your credibility.
Job as a Costume Designer
Once you acquire appropriate costume designer qualifications and consolidate your profile, you are ready to step into the world of fashion as a professional costume designer.
With the steady growth of the fashion industry, the demand and scope for costume designers are also gradually increasing. According to AmbitionBox, the salary for a costume designer in India per year ranges between INR 0.4 Lakh and INR 9.1 Lakh, the average being INR 3.4 Lakh.
As a costume designer, you can pick a niche to work in. Some popular job profiles include:
- Jewellery designer
- Accessory designer
- Leather accessory designer
- Footwear designer
Develop and strengthen the necessary skills, gain industry exposure, and add a little passion to the mix and there is no limit to the success you can reach as a costume designer. In no time, you will find yourself collaborating and working with big names in the fashion industry. Even more exciting is that you might become a big name yourself!
So, stop second-guessing yourself and get ready to follow your dreams!