Costumes are an essential part of theater productions. It helps distinguish each
character from other characters. It sets the location and era of the story, and it also explains the characters’ personality, age, social class, occupation and gender.
Gina Cowley, the costume designer for the Fullerton College production, Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth, has been creating costumes for a few years now.
Cowley got involved in costume making and designing in 2008 and started going to Fullerton College in 2010 as a part-time student.
She started out making Irish dance costumes and skating dresses.
“I started, um, I was making skating dresses for my daughter’s practice dresses,” Cowley said.
She used this opportunity to get involved with her daughter’s extra-curricular activities and at the same time, do something she enjoys doing.
“As a parent you have to volunteer,” Cowley said.
She remembered thinking, “Ok, if I have to volunteer, I will work with the costumes,” she added.
Cowley started taking classes at FC to learn more about the costuming business and to gain more knowledge about the industry.
She started with fashion classes to learn how to sew and how to create patterns better.
“A girl in one of classes said, you have to come over to the costuming class,” she stated as she recalled a that a classmate informed her about the costuming class FC offered.
She was open to the idea to learn more about costume designing and how beneficial it would be for her sewing costumes for her daughter.
She became highly involved in costume making when her daughter got into musical theater during high school at the Braver Players Theatre Company in Costa Mesa.
“When people found out I could sew, they started asking me to make dresses, and dresses, and dresses, and it turned into a business.”
Soon after, the theater company hired Cowley at their costume scene.
The experience furthered her understanding for costume design and enhanced her skills in creating and putting pieces of clothing together to create an effective costume for each and every character.
Cowley explained that to be able to dress a character, you would need to do a lot of research. It is essential to understand the screenplay and to know the character inside and out.
The costuming process for the spring production for Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth involved a lot of research, reading the scripts, vision boards and collaborating with the director and the actors.
She explained that to be a costume designer, you would need to be able to take in suggestions and also work around people’s visions.
Cowley described the play that is set in a school in 1979 England, as a two halves of the same piece.
The color scheme of the costumes is split into two sections.
“Dogg’s Hamlet is bright, colorful and slapstick, and Cahoot’s Macbeth is more serious – still funny, but it has something to say.” Cowley described.
She explained that costume designing is an art. Finding garments that are not on trend can be very hard. You need to have a creative mind and have an eye for details.