While the films “All Lives Matter” and “86 Melrose Avenue” are completely different in scope and story, they do have two things in common– and that is Ukrainian siblings Viktoriia and Kostiantyn Vlasenko behind the scenes. As the costume designer on both films, Viktoriia designed the extensive wardrobe for each project all under the direction of her brother Kostiantyn, who worked as an actor and production manager.
A spectacular thriller directed by Lili Matta, “86 Melrose Avenue” also features Kostiantyn Vlasenko in the role of one of Marine. A dramatic film that never ceases to keep the viewer in suspense, the plot of the film is centered around a former marine who suffers from PTSD, and breaks into an art gallery where he takes hostages and forces each of them to face their past and impending death.
As the costume designer, Viktoriia faced an interesting challenge in the way that each of the costumes had to not only correspond to the character’s image, but it also had to give viewers important insights into the character’s past– a difficult task, but one she achieved seamlessly.
With the wardrobe created according to Viktoriia’s sketches, and under the direct supervision of Kostiantyn as production manager, the costumes exceeded all expectations of the director, who especially emphasized this when talking about the film. In addition to serving as the costume designer, Viktoriia Vlasenko also played a key role as a make-up artist and special effects specialist for the film.
Compared to the previously mentioned film, “All Lives Matter,” which was written and directed by Alonzo Dominguez, has a completely different dramatic tone. A sci-fi film featuring a cyberpunk boy from the future and his girlfriend, “All Lives Matter” offers a dramatic narrative built around a futuristic society’s rejection of the cyberpunk way of life, and the related twists and turns that ensue. The film develops the philosophical idea that even a futuristic society will not be ready to accept people who differ from the mainstream.
In this film, Kostiantyn Vlasenko again worked as an actor, as well as a production manager, while Viktoriia acted as the film’s costume designer, a familial collaboration which provided yet another film with truly spectacular chemistry behind the scenes. The tailoring of the costumes for the film was also carried out under the direction of Kostiantyn.
The creative collaboration of the Vlasenko siblings has already been seen repeatedly on set, with the brother and sister taking part in the filming of more than 30 films. Moreover, as a result of their natural energy and ability to multitask, both of them often combine several roles during filming. Viktoriia, in addition to working as the costume designer, acts as a make-up and special effects artist, where Kostiantyn, who is often acting in leading or supporting roles, also acts enthusiastically as a line producer and production manager, while also helping his sister to bring her creative ideas to life.
Often times, the way in which a person is dressed offers one of the biggest and most immediate insights into who they are as a person. A viewer, if looking closely, forms a judgement, whether consciously or not, in regard to this person’s attitude, mannerisms, and beliefs. In a way, one’s costume becomes a visual introduction to their story, and the same thing goes for the characters in a film. A film’s costume design is a key component in building its characters and pulling us into their story, something world renowned costume designer Lucy Song knows all about.
Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Song was always fascinated and inspired by the world of costume design, but it was in Los Angeles while studying fashion design where she leaned fully into her passion.
“Having a strong fashion industry background built the necessary foundation for me to bridge the move to being a costume designer,” Song explains. “They are very different jobs, but they utilize a lot of the same skill sets, which allowed me to marry both fields together and develop a unique style and approach to the costume design industry.”
Without question, Song’s cross-training in the field sets her apart from others. With a larger understanding of the garment industry, her ability to dress her actors exceeds far beyond the industry standard. In fact, Song’s extensive training has even enabled her to craft stunning and elaborate costume pieces by hand, if necessary.
A critical part of the costume designer’s job is the ability to capture what a director wants to articulate about a character on a visual level. In this sense, Song is nothing short of brilliant.
“Many directors have a vision of the film’s mood and tone, but not the exact costume design or look,” says Song. “[I then do] the necessary research to present key costumes based on mood, color, texture, tone, time period, and character personalities presented in the script, so that the director’s exact visual statement is captured.”
From her research, Song creates a lookbook and costume plot for each character with hand-made sketches and photos to present to the director and the production team. Once the script is cast, she goes in again, this time tailoring her vision to each individual actor. What audiences see on screen is, in essence, the final step in a much longer process, that of which Song makes look easy and, well, rather seamless.
A beaming example of her strength as a costume designer can be seen in “The Poison of Grapefruit,” which was chosen as an Official Selection of the Marina Del Rey Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film and Script Festival.
A film set primarily in a courthouse, “The Poison of Grapefruit” takes the audience into the heart of a murder trial, and into the mind of an “obnoxious but fascinating anti-hero.”
The film’s costume design is poignant and beautiful, without being distracting or cliche. As Song tells it, “My job as a costume designer in these types of situations is to provide costumes that serve the characters so the story can be conveyed in an authentic tone. I enjoyed designing the formal prison guard uniforms from that time period, as there were several details to capture; all the shapes, textures and accessories were very interesting to research and put together.”
When designing clothing for a film, precise attention must be paid to the color pallet. Too bold, and it can result in upstaging the action and importance of the scene itself, and too mute, and the action can be swallowed by the surroundings. To avoid this, Song refrained from using orange or white prison uniforms, and instead chose dark blue and sage uniforms to ensure an effective result. Her ability to blend while still drawing enough attention to detail is profound in the industry.
It’s easy to be pulled from the context of a film by background costumes in a scene that don’t fit into the film’s visual statement. Song didn’t only focus on the main players in the story, but she paid close attention to the background actors in “Poison of a Grapefruit” as well. Song dressed the actors in complementary tones, all while staying on schedule and true to the film’s budget.
Song’s commitment to the director from beginning to end was also exemplary. “The director needed a very specific time period to be represented, so it took some time to ensure we met that vision, but I honestly had so much fun doing it that it got me through some sleepless nights,” Song recalls.
“The vibe I wanted to create with the costumes styles was in the vein of a period drama. I ended up going with tones and colors of browns, cold navy blues, and blacks to represent and stay within the tone of the story.”
Not only has Song created such a world, but it all works together aesthetically– each actor’s costume seems to compliment the others, all while staying visually exciting and perfectly executed.
While many people are involved in the production of a successful film, the costume designer is an integral and often overlooked part of the equation. Lucy Song is an exceptional costume designer, creating masterpiece after masterpiece, giving each actor the gift of furthering his story visually, and sometimes even enhancing an actor’s performance by providing confidence and believability. The film industry is truly lucky to have talents like Song, and audiences everywhere await her next project with excitement and anticipation.
Now an in-demand global costume designer, Ukraine-born Viktoriia Vlasenko first discovered her love and innate talent for her craft when she was just 8 years old. Vlasenko used her spare time to make party clothes for herself, her mother and her dolls, she even designed to suit her younger brother wore to his graduation.
Keen to continue her love of costume design, Vlasenko completed a Bachelor’s degree in fashion design at the Milan Institute of Design IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) which is among the top 7 universities in the world which specialize in fashion design.
After she graduated from the prestigious university, Vlasenko went full speed ahead and participated in a number of fashion shows and causes. She showed a collection at the Fashion Show 2015 New Talents Vogue Milan for young designers, and even participated in the No War project. The No War project was something very close to her heart, as it allowed her to protest against the war in Ukraine. Her impressive creative contributions to the project were also published in the “No War” book, which sold over 100,000 copies.
Viktoriia Vlasenko is a global sensation, as her work goes a lot further than simply Milan and her home country of Ukraine. Some of her work includes creating costumes for high-profile theatre productions, philharmonic societies, music videos and more. Among her many highlights as a costume designer is creating the breathtaking wardrobe for the cast of the production of “Alice in Wonderland” directed by Dmitriy Obednokov, which was held at the Ukraine Philharmonic with musical support from the chamber choir.
She has dressed stars such as Latin-Grammy-nominated singer and actress Natalia Oreiro for the red carpet, and has designed for SaM (Samvel Arzumanov) and his Freedom International label.
Vlasenko also designed dazzling costumes that singer Olga Pechko, the winner of the All-Ukrainian competition, wore during her performances earlier this year while on tour across Ukraine. Pechko discovered Vlasenko’s unique style after stumbling upon one of the designer’s doll collections, an area of design that she has become increasingly well known for over the years.
“She saw my Forged Iron Dummies collection and envisioned them as garments for her show and then asked me to design her costumes,” recalls Vlasenko.
In addition to designing countless theatrical productions and costumes for the stars, Vlasenko has been tapped as the costume designer on an impressive list of films including multi-award winning director Catharine Lin’s (“Twenty Years After”) romantic film “Mr. Heart” starring Greyson Todd (“Mind, Body and Bullshit,” “Let Me Go”) and Ivan Sharudo (“The Lincoln”). As every project is unique in itself and requires something completely different to take it the next level, Vlasenko’s creative process understandably varies from project to project.
When it comes to designing costumes for the cast of a film production, like that of the upcoming Ukrainian film “Unworld,” Vlasenko says, “I read the scenario; then I learn the subject of costume and film epoch.. Then I think over the ideas, calculate the production and how much time it will take, then start to draw the design, select fabric and materials. After this – purchase of materials and the costume production itself after agreement of the design with the film director.”
As the costume designer on “Unworld,” an upcoming urban fantasy film directed by Mykhailo Andriiets, Vlasenko created a series of highly-technical costumes. While “Unworld” depicts a war between futuristic robots equipped with powerful digital technology and the mythical monsters of yore, the dystopian film has an underlying message of unity. In the midst of an all out war, the film’s seemingly disadvantaged human characters band together and use the robot’s digital technology in order to bring down the established order.
Bringing to mind images of films like “V for Vendetta” and “Blade Runner,” but placing her own unique spin on things, Vlasenko’s costumes for “Unworld” are incredibly stylized; and they’re a key in transporting the audience into such a far-out world. You can get a sneak peak into Vlasenko’s designs for the film from the clip below.
“Viktoriia created the concept images, designed the costumes, coordinated accessories and worked out the technical elements for the costumes to work for the actors performances, she pretty much did the work of a concept artist, costume designer, technologist, seamstress, and prop master,” says Ukrainian director Mykhailo Andriiets.
“Working with Viktoriia is inspiring… you can not see where the boundaries of her talent and optimism ends. She is a great professional because of her boundless imagination and diligence… She believes in success and does everything possible to achieve it.”
Though Vlasenko has made a strong name for herself in Ukraine, her unique skill as a costume designer has also attracted the attention of filmmakers in the US, such as Avi Agarwal (“Pieces”) who tapped Vlasenko as the costume designer on his 2016 dramatic comedy film “Loose Ends” starring Justine An from the film “A World of Contradictions.” Awarded at the 2016 Hollywood Boulevard film Festival, “Loose Ends” depicts a young collegiate partier who’s potential futures flash before his eyes during different encounters over the course of the film, with the most rattling outcome being one of total vagrancy.
In stark contrast to her work on “Unworld,” Vlasenko’s task as the costume designer on “Loose Ends” required her to err on the side of minimalism to create a more realistic wardrobe in support of the story.
Vlasenko says, “I watched the vagrants and homeless people around Los Angeles, taking note of how they behaved and what they wore, as well as that of prisoners. This project was actually very simple for me, but this is exactly what the film director wanted, it was his vision of the project.”
Always working in support of the story– that is the true role of the costume designer, as well as for anyone else working on a film crew, something Vlasenko knows all about. While her wildly outrageous designs for films like “Unworld” reveal her capacity as a creative, her ability to let the story guide the way is tantamount to the success of the films she works on.
“I can work with various materials, which some other costume designers tend to be afraid to work with,” Vlasenko says. “I can invent, implement and realize my designs, using my own hands to bring them life, I can make a more cost-effective costume design budget when I have to.”
A passion that courses through her veins and experience far beyond her years have earned costume designer Claudia Sarbu her place at the forefront of her field. Her sheer talent is reflected in her diverse work on films ranging from the epic 2014 blockbuster “Divergent” to the heartwarming drama “20th Century Women,” released early this year. Few in the field are able to move so seamlessly between such wildly different productions, but Sarbu has been training her entire life.
She was born near Bucharest, and growing up she lived just blocks from the film studio where both her parents worked. Her mother made costumes for the studio and encouraged her daughter’s natural talent.
“I remember when I designed my teacher’s wedding outfit, and then my mom made it,” she said, recalling how she got her first taste of design. “It was very avant-garde for that kind of small town wedding, but she looked great.”
Having been immersed in the field for longer than she can remember, Sarbu knows better than anyone how crucial good costume design is to any production that aims to create a believable universe. She proved this on an enormous scale when she served as Costume Coordinator for “Divergent,” the first in a hotly anticipated series of films based on the trilogy of internationally bestselling books by Veronica Roth. As the costume coordinator, Sarbu was responsible for ensuring the film’s costumes were made and prepared perfectly.
The cast of the film made raised the stakes for Sarbu even higher. In addition to Shailene Woodley, known for her roles in “The Fault in Our Stars” and in “The Descendants” (alongside George Clooney), the film also stars Ashley Judd (“Double Jeopardy”) and Academy Award Winner Kate Winslet (“Titanic,” “Finding Neverland”).
The events of “Divergent” take place in a dystopian future where every person must fit neatly into one of five factions, each representing a different virtue. Anyone who is unable to assimilate into one of these factions is labelled a ‘divergent’ and faces mysterious but almost certainly deadly consequences. At the heart of the story is one such divergent, Tris (Woodley), who defiantly resolves to fight back against the unjust system.
The world in which the film is set is fractured and extraordinarily complex, which is mirrored in the relationships between characters and factions. It was an indescribably difficult undertaking to create a costume for each and every character that both captures the individual’s personality and visually represents the character’s faction and their station in the world’s social hierarchy.
“The majority of the costumes for ‘Divergent’ were manufactured in Romania by two workshops, and I was in charge of overseeing both. My job was to develop and translate the illustrations into actual garments by choosing fabrics, deciding on patterning and finishing details, as well as overseeing the quality of the manufacturing, aging and distressing processes,” she said, detailing her staggering list of responsibilities. “At the same time, I had to keep up with the shoot schedule’s demands, meaning prioritizing what to ship first while working under very tight deadlines. It was almost four months of intense work, but in the end we’d delivered over 2,000 pieces of costumes.”
All of Sarbu’s tireless work proved well worth it when “Divergent” was released in March 2014. It immediately shot to the top of the box office in its opening weekend as casual moviegoers and longtime fans of the novels piled into theaters to catch the first chapter in the epic trilogy.
At the complete opposite end of the spectrum lies “20th Century Women,” the exceptionally moving autobiographical story of two women who help a mother raise her son against the backdrop of Santa Barbara in 1979.
“The script for ‘20th Century Women’ is one of the closest to my heart, and also one of the most challenging ones I’ve read… spinning between past, present and future and mixed with dreams and flashbacks,” said Sarbu. “The costumes were extremely important to the film’s authenticity. We were dressing real life characters whose personalities and vibes needed to be conveyed through their style.”
The film debuted early this year and starred Annette Bening (“American Beauty”) and Elle Fanning (“Maleficent,” “Super 8”). Audiences and critics lauded “20th Century Women” with praise, and the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Comedy, and a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination for Annette Bening for her powerful performance.
Despite being completely unlike “Divergent” in every conceivable way, the importance of Sarbu’s work to the industry at-large is illustrated by the fact that both of these wildly different films needed costumes, and both relied on Sarbu’s talents. For both, and for any other film, Sarbu knows that good costume design starts with understanding the characters and the worlds they live in. In this way, the process she follows for a film set in a nightmarish future is much the same as it would be for a film set in ‘70s-era Southern California. In practice, Sarbu’s process requires the instincts and training that she has honed throughout her illustrious career. When she describes what she does, however, she makes it sound straightforward and almost simple.
“Film and TV are essentially visuals,” she said, “and what people wear is essential to creating that visual.”
Modern music videos are huge productions with many of them having budgets comparable to that of a feature film. From Gwen Stefani’s “Make Me Like You” video coming it at $4 million to Madonna’s $5 million video for “Express Yourself,” and who can forget Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s “Scream,” which cost a whopping $7 million back in 1995, millions of dollars go into creating the visual stories and elaborate worlds we see in popular music videos. From expensive lighting to ornately designed sets, a great deal of effort goes into making these stories as memorable and visually striking as possible, and one of the key elements in all of this is costume design.
UK costume designer Jemima Penny is the one they call in to design the wardrobes for many of the high-dollar music videos. Over the years, Jemima has done it all. From working on the music videos for Sir Paul McCartney’s “Dance Tonight” featuring Natalie Portman and Mackenzie Crook, and designing Lily Allen’s “LDN,” Roots Manuva’s “Buff Nuff,” Juliette Lewis and the Licks’ “Got Love to Kill,” and countless others, Jemima has designed for some of the most famous artists in the world.
Compared to film, costume designing for music videos brings with it a unique set of challenges in terms of turnaround time, which require Jemima to work quickly to source the costumes, sometimes even fitting the cast and making alterations on the same day as the shoot.
“Prep periods and the shoot are very quick when working on music promos and commercials, and my team and I need to source and fit costumes within days… As such we need to create an instant vision for the song,” explains Jemima. “There is less emphasis on the intricate details and character work and instead I concentrate on designing a look for the video that immediately captures the audience and tells the story.”
In the same way that no two videos are alike, the wardrobe Jemima designs for each video she works on is completely different from the next; and with well over a decade of experience in the industry, the costumes she’s designed span the gamut. She says, “In some instances, for example the Klaxon’s ‘Golden Skans’ video, these costumes need to be totally fantastical and abstract, and for others, including Calvin Harris’ ‘Sweet Nothing’ it is about creating a complete world in moments.”
As the costume designer on the music video for Calvin Harris’ hit song “Sweet Nothing” featuring Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, the wardrobe Jemima designed was essential to creating the video’s seedy underworld environment full of strippers, call girls, their pimps and depressing looking clientele.
Directed by Primetime Emmy nominee Vincent Haycock, the “Sweet Nothing” video was a massive success airing on popular music channels all over the world and garnering well over 200 million views on YouTube.
For the costumes in the video, Jemima drew her inspiration from eastern European gangsters, streetwear worn by gangs in London’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods and styles from the 80s skinhead movement, which set the dark and grimy tone for the video’s overarcing story of a woman (Florence Welsh) dealing with an abusive pimp boyfriend.
She explains, “We shot the video on location at an old, rough working man’s club, and the fight scenes over-night in an alleyway in the East End of London, in torrential rain. Often there is not time to fit all the characters in costumes prior to the shoot so I sourced multiple options for the costumes for each character and then my team and I put together looks and decided on what costume feels best for each character on the day.”
Coming up with the final costumes for the cast of the caliber of music videos Jemima designs for on the same day as the shoot is as high pressure as it sounds; however, her background as a fashion stylist for magazines such as Vogue, ID and Dazed has endowed her with the unique ability to come up with killer looks on the fly by mixing fashion styling techniques into her work as a costume designer.
Jamie Clark, the producer behind “Sweet Nothings,” says, “I love working with Jemima. She has a unique talent for producing super stylish costumes. The cast and crew always respond to her really well, and her costumes are spot-on.”
Another area where Jemima’s tried and true talent for blending her fashion styling skills into her work as a costume designer is in the world of commercials, where turnaround times can be just as fast paced. A sought after figure in the industry, Jemima has costume designed commercials for leading brands across the globe including Johnnie Walker, Kellogg’s, Absolut Vodka, Microsoft, Cadbury’s Chocolate, Mastercard, Virgin Media and countless others.
Jemima explains, “My experience pulling together costumes for music videos and commercials together with my fantastic team of makers and buyers, assembled through years of working on different theatre and opera productions, means that I’m able to not only produce creative designs for a brief very quickly and with confidence, but facilitate the entire process from original design, to sourcing of materials and costumes, and oversee full costume makes from scratch.”
One commercial where these carefully honed skills were paramount to the success of the production was the ITV promo for the hit BAFTA Award winning series “The X-Factor” featuring series judges Cheryl Tweedy, Simon Cowell, Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw. Set in futuristic science laboratory, Jemima designed original costumes for the entire cast featured in the lab from the bespoke lab coats worn by the celebrity presenters, which featured a splash of gemstones shining from the lapel, to Cheryl Tweedy’s unforgettable ‘Fembot’ costume with the angular neckline.
“I wanted to create an outfit for Cheryl that showed off her great figure, and was futuristic and sculptural,” She explains, “The whole feel had to be poppy, youthful, fashion forward, stylized and work with the feel and ethos of the TV show itself.”
Cressida Ranfield, the producer of the promo, explains, “When I saw the brief for this job, and realized that it was hugely reliant on strong costume aesthetic, I knew that I wanted Jemima to design it. She is a consummate professional, and has that rare combination of being able to deliver excellent costumes and an innate sense of style that means she is able to work with celebrity clients with ease.”
Aside from being a sought after designer for music videos and commercials, Jemima has made a prominent mark in the film industry through her work as the costume designer on films such as “20,000 Days on Earth,” “Minimus” and “In the Dark Half.” She recently wrapped production on the upcoming films “Stella’s Last Weekend” directed by Polly Draper, “Slumber” directed by Johnny Hopkins, and the music documentary “The Quiet One,” which follows the life of Rolling Stone Bill Wyman.
If all that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Jemima Penny is currently a guest Fashion Editor for the popular fashion-focused publication Luxure Magazine as well.
When it comes to revered creative works, there are those who believe that a classic is not to be touched and those who believe that the spirit of creating art is in pushing those boundaries and buttons, to attempt to develop a new piece of art that both pays homage to the original and seeks to place it in a contemporary setting that it might be more accessible to the general public and thereby spur them to revisit said classics. Costume designer Ruoxuan Li has worked with those on both sides of this idea. She feels that her role is not to be the one who is polarized on the topic but to grow through embracing both perspectives. This what me be referred to as a “creatively open mind.” It’s something that would seem to be inherent in the artistic mindset but is not always so. Luckily for those she works with, Li has the pedigree and the experience to enable both factions. When ISC (Independent Shakespeare Company)was presenting a modernized production of Shakespeare’s “The Two Men of Verona”, Ruoxuan was an obvious choice as costume designer. Li cut her teeth in Shakespearean theater at the at Wimbledon College of Art, University of The Arts London. Since then she has worked on countless productions including Distant Vision with Francis Ford Coppola. Intensely familiar with both traditional and contemporary approaches to the look of stage, TV, and film, Ruoxuan worked with director David Melville to place the characters in a modern world for crowds of 20,000 in Los Angeles.
Melissa Chalsma is the artistic director of the ICS production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” who sought out Ruoxuan and enlisted her into the production team. Melissa describes, “I was first attracted to Ruoxuan’s work because of her outstanding portfolio and the breadth of her experience. She is an inter-continental artist who excels in a wide range of styles, has done excellent work in a variety of mediums, and has wonderful inter-personal skills. Without Ruoxuan “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” would not have looked as good as it did, nor would the actors have even as able to do their jobs. She created an entirely unique world with vastly different styles authentically placing the action in the 1950’s. Each costume piece supported the actors in their work. Speaking personally, the costumes Ruoxuan created were absolutely perfect!”
Early meeting with the play’s director set the tone that the play should be apolitical and be a place of respite for the public to escape the volatile events around them. Melville communicated to Ruoxuan that he was interested in a Rockabilly style that was full of bright and engaging colors. The two primary challenges in this is that Shakespeare is not known for its use of bright colors and, as a native of China, Li does not share the same frame of Americana reference that many might in regards to the 1950’s Rockabilly style and era. Research would begin for her at ground zero rather than twenty or seventy-five percent. To fit the classic Shakespearean sensibility into a new concept of 1950’s, she started by matching the social group status for characters such as the greasers for the outlaws, teddy boys/girls for the naughty ones etc. Li then tracked each character’s change of status and change of their mental/emotional evolution, trying to express the changes cohesively through costuming. She was given some allowance to be not period-dead-on but tried to catch key elements of the 1950’s rockabilly look such as white socks, rolled up hems, pointy shirt collars, circle skirts, etc. These helped to sell the period when it’s not a full-on authentic period show.
It’s the very nature of a mingling of the arts that they affect each other. This also applies to the costume design; add maneuverability to that as well. The Rockabilly application to this classic Shakespeare play was like an actor itself, taking on the visage of a “greaser” from the era. This meant that the music and style of the 1950’s was inseparable from the look Li created. Watching the rehearsal is a key part of her process in finalizing the costuming. Ruoxuan relates, “When I saw the rehearsal with the band and all of the dancing, I realized that the research I did was not fully matching the energy on the dance floor. There were actors rapping the Shakespeare lines, the duke being the drummer at the same time, one of the two gentlemen acted like a nerdy teenage facing his lover…all these sparkling moments gave me inspiration. I switched my color palette to a much more vibrant and youthful combination of bright pastels and saturated jewel tones. I shortened all the skirt for dancing, added ruffled collars for crab the dog, and asked the attendant rapper turning his bell boy hat front to the back. These might seem minor but they bring everything into focus.”
Broadway World stated, “Ruoxuan Li’s black leather jackets for the outlaws, and circle skirts and preppy plaids for the leading players all lend authenticity to the period and its unbridled optimism.” This statement communicates the concept that the costuming itself is part of delivering the emotion to an audience, an emotion that must be congruent to that of the intent of the director. With this understanding, Ruoxuan takes great care to plan and maintain an aesthetic consistent with her director’s goal. This process begins with a conversation that continues up until the actual showtime. A strong sense of design partnered with an ease of flexibility is what has resulted in so many directors seeking out Ruoxuan to create the look for their productions whether it be stage, TV, or film.
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