What drew you to Two Mile Hollow?
I was immediately drawn to the underlying dialogue of the play, which is calling out the underrepresentation of People of Color in casting decisions, specifically Asian Pacific Islander. I liked the idea of these POC playing White characters, as many movies as of late have had the reverse where White actors were cast to play characters culturally known to be POC (Ghost in the Shell, Doctor Strange, Aloha, etc.). I think it’s an important dialogue of our time and this play gives the opportunity to show POC can bring in the sales and numbers to a production.
What was your design inspiration for the show?
When I was asked what direction I would take if offered the design position, I shared this music video by Dumbfoundead. Take a moment to check it out. I’ll wait … So, the opening shot of the family really inspired me. Seeing POC playing outside their race for political effect. The use of blonde wigs, that looked natural and not forced. The Preppy clothing style, that harks to “Old Money” and its legacy. I really liked the aesthetic. With that being said, I also went to middle and high school right next to the University of Virginia and Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s Plantation) and thus, I grew up around lots of Prep style, and Ya’ll, UVA is Classic Prep and Old Money with an Ivy League feel and a dash of conservatism. (In its defense, six months after the far right rallies and tragedies of last year, they elected their first Black Female Mayor). Overall I was inspired by my home in Charlottesville, and Prep Culture. Which goes a lot deeper than I thought. I wanted to do justice to the art of dressing Prep and my experiences growing up.
I love that I am in a diverse setting where we can dialogue about anything. I am also fortunate that I have previously worked with multiple people in the cast and production team. It really feels like home. I also love it when my designs become a reality during the first fitting. It’s exciting to see all your hard work come to fruition. Honestly, there are two big challenges to this production. One is making these characters look wealthy and Preppy without going bankrupt. Two is drawing the line between caricature and honest representation of Preppy White Culture. The costumes can’t be comical, they must be true and real. If they are overdone we run the risk of portraying Whiteface, so I have to find a balance that is honest yet recognizable by the audience. As for making these characters look wealthy, I give this example. A popular staple in Prep culture/style is a 3-button Navy Blazer. One of the preferred places to purchase one is Brooks Brothers. This simple, non-fitted blazer starts at $373.00 … On. Sale. Let that sink in. It has not been easy trying to find classic natural fiber pieces for a discount. My friends have been thrift stores in specific locations, where people who normally wear Preppy fashion may donate.
What do you enjoy most about being a costume designer?
As I had mentioned above, I really do enjoy seeing my designs come to life. That first fitting reaffirms all that I do. It means I can break down a character, take measurements to successfully find clothing that fits another human, and confirms my research. What it really comes down to is, I love to create something from nothing. I enjoy taking base ingredients and making something new. It’s why I enjoy sewing. When it comes to design, I think of The Text as my base. The Text informs my research and then I can create a design, which in turn becomes the base for all the outfits I pull. I think of my designs as a puzzle, I get to figure out where I can find what, and it’s like this really fun game where I get to draw a picture and recreate it. That’s what I love about costume design.