The Life Of
Storytelling is an important element of the human experience around the globe. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values.
In film and television, costume design contributes to the overall visual storytelling process. This is done through the choices made for each character individually and how they fit into the big picture as a whole.
The Life Of A Costume exhibit celebrates the role of costume in visual storytelling and the many talented designers and craftspeople within the Canadian film and television industry.
Generally, a costume designer will begin their work by breaking down the script. Detailed notes will be made to identify character descriptions, key moments of action and even clothing descriptions. Costume Designers need to consider if the character will have different and distinct clothing items for each script day or will they cycle through a smaller wardrobe with different combinations of fewer clothing items? The designer will then explore multiple research avenues to compile image boards and costume and character sketches that will be used to establish and communicate the visual look of the production and the costumes. Some designers execute their own illustrations, while others will work with professional illustrators.
This remarkable, cinematic journey is set over half a century and two continents. With this sweeping tale also came design challenges, such as preparing for an opening scene with 600 extras arriving at a gala concert, to the over 300 men’s trench coats custom made in varying shades to establish the colour palate of the film.
For the 1930s and 1940s, Costume Designer Anne Dixon kept the colour palette warm. As the film moved into the 1950s, the colours became cooler, and by the 1980s, she was using shades of blues and very cool and saturated colours. To differentiate between the worlds of the British, Polish, Jewish and the musicians, she relied on texture, colour and shape to act as identifiers.
The dragonfly wings have a story throughline from episode to episode, occurring on multiple characters, beginning with a real dragonfly that splatters on the windshield of Count Olaf’s car. The wings and first masked ball costume were built for our heroine Beatrice. The colourless wings were built to work with this silver beaded gown for the masked ball, all the while making sure the wings would complement the next two costumes that were to be determined.