The Costumer’s Manifesto: (A statement of Purpose and Ethics for Costumers)
“I am a Costumer, I make clothes for imaginary people.” —Celestine Ranney, 1982
I. When I costume, I am not a fashion designer nor a clothing manufacturer, but a builder of character, concept, and physical movement.
II. I, above all, work with Actors: I help them build their character from without, even as they build it from within. I do not complain about the shape of their bodies. I create the shape we need, and/or build a visual representation of the character that suits the existing body. I am aware of their movement needs and I facilitate them.
III. I work under the guidance of Directors: I help them visually represent their conceptual ideas in physical form. I create clothes for the inhabitants of the world they envision.
IV. I am inspired by the words of Playwrights and Scriptwriters: I try to bring alive the script by transforming the words of the text into visual metaphors. Words, especially poetry in the text, need a visual equivalent that supports the mood of the script without distracting from it.
V. I collaborate with the other Designers, seeking to bring our collective vision together so it works in harmony. Costumes do not exist in a vacuum, but on a set, among properties and furniture, sound, and light, as part of a consistent visual representation of an invented world.
VI. Whether I am in the position of stitcher, cutter, dyer, crafts worker or designer, I remember that what I am doing is contributing to the greater whole of the production, and must be done with an aesthetic sense in keeping with the performance, not merely my own whims. Designers, therefore, need to communicate the shows design to all the other costumers involved in the process as clearly as possible, so that when design decisions are made at any level of the process, from buttons to butt padding, they reflect the needs of the show or film as a whole.