5 Books Every Costume Design Student Should Read

Costumers are an integral part of any theater. While the audience can see a beautiful costume on stage, behind the scenes there is a lot of detail and work in the preparation of each costume design. Costume designers shine through their work on stage by understanding not only each piece, but also the story behind it. Here are the five books every costume design student should read at least once!


Costume Designer’s Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Designers 2nd Revised Edition by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey

Recently revised and updated, the Costume Designer’s Handbook is now more comprehensive than ever and has been the backbone of any costume designer’s library since its original publication in 1983. Features of this new edition include:

– A foreword by Arvin Brown, artistic director of the Long Wharf Theater

– Tips on how to read and analyze a play

– Costume Plot Establishment Plans

– An overview of working with directors and other designers

– Resources for doing historical research

– A discussion of the properties of color

– Sketching, drawing and drawing techniques

– An 8-page color insert

– 150 black and white photos, drawings and graphics

– A complete and up-to-date reference section

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5 Books Every Costume Design Student Should ReadThe Costume Technician’s Handbook 3rd edition by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey

In the third edition of Costume Technician’s Handbook, Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey once again draw on their many years of hands-on experience in costume design and technology. Now they’re adding information gleaned across the country from store managers and staff about their methods, and complementing it with images of some of the best theatrical costumes to see today. And they continue to provide the most comprehensive guide to developing costumes that are personally distinctive and artistically expressive.

Ingham and Covey have also been attentive to technical developments to keep you informed and ready for action. They expanded their book to include:

– Two new chapters on managing costume shops and using computers in costume shops

– Instructions for using new materials

– An important updated bibliography

– Lots of new color and black and white photography

– New appendices on math for technicians, health and safety standards, and more

Whether you’re a professional costume technician, a student of costume design, or an adventurous DIYer, opt for nothing less than the best – The Costume Technician Handbook.

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5 Books Every Costume Design Student Should ReadFundamentals of theatrical design: a guide to the basics of stage design, costumes and lighting by Karen Brewster and Melissa Shafer

Script analysis for designers — The goals of theatrical design — Design research — Collaboration — Design elements — Design principles and visual composition — Scenic design — Costume design — Stage design lighting – Building a career in theater design.

With clear, concise examples and practical exercises, Fundamentals of Theatrical Design illustrates how the three main areas of theatrical design – sets, costumes and lighting – are intrinsically linked. Veteran theater designers Karen Brewster and Melissa Shafer consulted with a wide range of seasoned theater industry professionals – playwrights, actors, directors, producers, managers – to provide a comprehensive guide full of sound advice and insightful approaches to design. Whether it’s newbie designers just starting out or experienced directors looking to gain exposure and advance their careers, anyone with an interest in theater design is sure to appreciate this book’s unique approach.

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5 Books Every Costume Design Student Should ReadThe Costume Supervisor’s Toolkit: Overseeing Theatrical Costume Production from First Meeting to Final Performance (The Focal Press Toolkit Series) 1st edition by Rebecca Pride

The Costume Supervisor Toolkit explores the responsibilities of a costume supervisor within a theatre, opera or dance production company. Rebecca Pride provides an overview of all sorts of processes, starting with a definition of the role, and offers explanations of the schedule from the first design meetings, to managing the final fittings and rehearsals. This how-to guide outlines best working practices, including team building and creating a costume bible, while providing helpful resources such as sizing guides, a useful mailing list and studies. cases of renowned theater organizations.

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5 Books Every Costume Design Student Should ReadAuguste Racinet. The Complete Costume History by Francoise Tetart-Vittu

Originally published in France between 1876 and 1888, Auguste Racinet’s Le Costume historique was for its time the most extensive and incisive study of clothing ever attempted. Covering the worldwide history of costume, dress and style from antiquity to the end of the 19th century, the six-volume work remains entirely unique in its scope and detail.

This TASCHEN reprint features Racinet’s exquisitely accurate color illustrations, along with his delightful descriptions and often witty commentary. Covering everything from ancient Etruscan dress to French women’s couture, the material is organized according to Racinet’s original plan by culture and subject. As broad in its scope as it is passionate in its research and attention to detail, Racinet’s costume history is an invaluable reference for students, designers, artists, illustrators and historians; and a rich source of inspiration for anyone interested in clothing and style.

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