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Costume designers research and design costumes for theatre, film or television productions. On large productions they create costume ideas, but delegate the practical work to costume makers, wardrobe supervisors and wardrobe assistants. On small productions they tend to carry out some of the practical tasks such as buying and hiring costumes, making alterations, plus mending and ironing outfits.
How to become a costume designer
Many aspiring costume designers combine essential practical skills such as design and sewing with a HND or degree in costume, fashion or theatre design. Those without these formal qualifications often start as wardrobe assistants or costume makers, before working their way up to designer as they gain experience and contacts in the industry.
Skills and knowledge required
Budding costume designers will need the following skills and knowledge to survive and thrive in this highly competitive, but rewarding field:
• problem-solving ability
• creative vision
• good communication and 'people skills'
• leadership ability
• budget awareness
• good research skills, with a knowledge of costume history and modern fashion
Starting salaries for costume designers working in the theatre range from £18,000 to £28,000 a year. Established designers in the theatre earn much more, but the best paid practitioners work in TV and film.
Costume designers work long hours, including evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. The working environment could be in a studio, an office or even from home.
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