For a designer there will always need to be a place to begin – a point, aside from the text, that provides a visual idea from which to elaborate on the themes and the narrative.
Often this may be an historical reference from art or fashion and whilst this will not necessarily be an image that remains part of the main design process it can lead to new and different visual research pathways.
A piece of art at an exhibition, a photograph, an image from a book – each can provide a range of different information to inspire design ideas – from shape, style and silhouette to fabric references, hairstyles and accessories. From this perspective the costume designer develops a range of historical references, from art and fashion to architecture and graphics.
This first image may become less or more relevant during the design process, but it’s important to keep each image for reference at a later stage – whether that’s to communicate an idea to the cast and director or to clarify or develop an element within the design process. It may be easier to photograph and digitally store this process – creating a map from which to chart the different key moments in the design process.
This may also assist in the development of additional design elements such as light, sound, set and movement and can provide a connecting point between different areas within the design process.
For instance a Klimt drawing may lead to the development of a particular style and shape of a dress or the choice of a certain type of fabric that echoes the physical qualities rendered by the artist. A photograph of a building or an open space may lead to the choice of a particular colour palette or a range of textures that assists with the development of a costume and how that costume moves. This in turn can assist with the development of character and/or the interpretation of the original text.