It's been well over a month since I last posted anything on the blog and that's because I have been busy - as in not enough time to eat kind of busy - costume designing for two shows. The first one, ROMEO+JULIET opened this past Wednesday and I thought I would share it with all of you.
When Angela Konrad, the director of the production, approached me about coming out to Trinity Western University to do the costume design for this production I jumped at the chance because it meant that I would get the opportunity to work with her again. I had the enormous privilege of getting to work with her earlier this year on Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train (which went on to win Outstanding Production at the Jessie Richardson Awards this year) and in my humble opinion she is one of the best directors in Vancouver. And, an incredible person. I would probably literally fly across the world to design for her, on my own dime, if she asked me to.
And, she has done it again with ROMEO+JULIET. Her direction of this Shakespearean classic is incredible. (Bard, are you listening?! You should hire her. Now.) It's a fresh, contemporary take complete with dance sequences and billiard room brawls.
For this contemporary take Angela wanted to have the Capulets be white collar or "old money" and the Montague's be blue collar or "new money". As the costume designer I took this concept and went very literal with it. The Capulet's are all in white or varying shades of tan, beige & brown while the Montague's are all in denim or varying shades of blue & black. When my dad says to me (he was my date for Opening Night) at the end of the show - "So, I guess the Capulet's are from Shaughnessy and the Montague's are from Surrey and that's why they hate each other" - clearly we must have done something right since there weren't any director's notes in the program and I didn't tell him anything about the production.
Once the overall concept was in place, I then went character by character to flesh out and highlight the individual qualities of each character and so I thought I would share with you some of my renderings (these are from the preliminary phases so ignore the notations or colour swatches):
Capulet (and Lady Capulet, see below) are dressed in that throw back Mad Men-esque look that is really popular right now. Not only is that look all about elegance but it suits the "tucked in" white collar concept so well.
I wanted Juliet to have that young, innocent school girl look, but still be kind of hip and cool so that it would seem plausible that she would obviously prefer "bad boy" Romeo over Paris the "pretty prep school boy" her parents have picked out for her. So, I went with a kind of Urban Outfitters type of look for her. (I actually bought one of her entire costumes from Urban Outfitters).
This is her white baby doll church/wedding/death scene dress.
Paris is your ultimate prep school boy. He wears argyle sweaters and khaki's and shops at Tommy Hilfiger.
Montague is a working man. He's made a lot of money running his construction company business so he gets to wear whatever he wants. And, that means a jean work type shirt and jeans. This however doesn't mean he didn't go out and buy them from Armani Exchange or something. So, he still looks nice, put together, in a casual way.
Lady Montague is the epitome of this "new money" look which is "trashy" but expensive. And, if a one-piece denim jumpsuit that she probably bought at Holt Renfrew for $500 doesn't say "trashy new money" I don't know what does.
(And, shhhhh....don't tell anyone but I kind based Lady Montague and Montague off of my parents friends whom I - lovingly - refer to as the real life Barbie & Ken)
Romeo has the ultimate "bad boy" look with a hipster-y edge to it. He's got the American Apparel V-neck T & hoodie with a black leather jacket and skinny jeans and sneakers.
As Romeo's friend I wanted Mercutio to have that same sort of look but with a bit more over the top flare and edge.
And, finally, as the arch rival who eventually brings Mercutio to her untimely death, I wanted Tybalt to have that same edgy look but still be Capulet at the same time. So, I put him in a brown leather jacket - to oppose Romeo's black leather jacket - and instead of sneakers, like I gave Romeo, I gave him white leather loafers.
And, there you have it, a small sample of the concept and character looks from this production of ROMEO+JULIET. This hilarious promotional video the students did (put together from the stills from the publicity photo shoot) does a great job of illustrating this concept and idea as well:
So, if you want to see how it all turned out, get a group of your friends together and carpool (or rent one of those zip cars or something) and head out to Langley to catch the show. Trust me I don't think you'll regret it. My dad and family friend who came to Opening Night with me said as we were driving home that they liked this production of ROMEO+JULIET better than some of the Shakespeare productions they saw at Bard this year. And, I wholeheartedly agree. Yes, they are bias. But my family is also blunt and they have no qualms about telling what they actually think. So, the fact that they liked it better than Bard, that says something about this production.
You can buy tickets or get all the information about the show at the SMAC website