September 2015

Print this page ›

September 2015

The Last Word:

New York Reveals Costuming Charms

Amanda Whitfield Costume Symposium Host

The group outside Kaufman Astoria studios with their totebags from the TDF Costume Collection

Photos/Jeanette Aultz

The 2015 USITT Costume Symposium, The Changing Scape of the Costume Business: Behind the Scenes in New York City, exposed 40 costume designers from around the country to the inner workings of the costume industry in New York City July 30 thorugh August 1.

Stephen Cabral, Managing Director of the TDF Costume Collections, shows 4 examples of dresses to illustrate how costume construction techniques have changed over time.

Helen Uffner (L) and Mimi Maxmen (R) talk about Helen's vintage rental business and how designers like Mimi make use of the collection.

Costume Designer Andrea Lauer lectures on her process at IATSE 764 Wardrobe Union Hall.

The three day symposium included Broadway lectures, backstage tours, museum talks, and designer work in film and television.

The first panel discussion explored the changing scene of the business and profiled seasoned Broadway professionals: dresser Shannon Kroger, wardrobe supervisor Robert Guy, and Tony award-winning designer Ann Hould-Ward.

In the afternoon, designer Andrea Lauer presented the scope of her work on Broadway that includes credits such as American Idiot and Bring it On, the Musical. She discussed her collaboration with chorographer Elizabeth Streb and shared garments developed in her studio RISEN from the Thread that incorporate new technologies for stroke patient rehabilitation.

Day two of the symposium included the TDF Costume Collection, which was relocated to Queens from Manhattan. The tour began at Kaufmann Astoria Studios. The managing director of TDF Costume Collection, Stephen Cabral, led a special lecture about the history of the collection while sharing some of the “special things worn by special people.” He used examples of various 19th century empire dresses to demonstrate the variety of the 80,000 piece collection and to explain how the collection’s aesthetic evolves as contemporary designers create lighter and brighter costumes.

Another highlight was a tour of Helen Uffner Vintage Clothing. Ms. Uffner and the talented costume designer Mimi Maxmen discussed using the collection for production in film and theatre. The day concluded with a chat from the assistant costume designer, Sue Gandy of Person of Interest at Silver Cup Studios.

“A most wonderful and interesting symposium” said participant Donnette Perkins. “Highlights for me were the China Through the Looking Glass exhibit at the Mumeum of Modern Art, Helen Uffner’s racks of beautiful 1930s cotton dresses, the opportunity to hear from two Broadway designers and the panel discussion at IATSE.”

Ariele Elia, Co-Curator of the "Global Fashions Capitols" exhibit at the Museum at FIT, gives a private tour to the group.