Drowning in Marie…

Guest writer: Laura Lynch, costume shop supervisor

Marie…yet another world premiere here at the Houston Ballet…(designed by Kandis Cook). This is an exciting project. Wonderful history to pull from and the cushion of using a designer we have worked with before. Working together previously has so many benefits. You both know one another’s work habits and communication is smooth, just to name a couple.

Now for a bit of trivia – as of today the number of costumes we’ve produced in the costume shop is:

For the women:
79 Skirts
73 Corsets
38 Overjackets
14 Polonaise
65 Paniers
63 Hats
5 Aprons
11 Blouses
17 Fichues
5 Masks
1 Peacock Tail
1 ‘Construct’ Wedding Dress
1 Parasol

For the men:
38 Shirts
62 Pants
96 Vests
76 Jackets
48 Hats
17 Baldricks
16 Sashs
45 Cravats
41 Cuff Sets
25 Specialty tights
40 Tights
1 Hankie
45 Cockades
1 Chain of Office
1 Mask
1 Wing ‘cape’

So at this time we are looking at 926 costume items. And that’s not even including jewelry and hand props (like fans, etc.).

Marie also has more wigs than most of our productions, and we are so fortunate to be working with London-based Danuta Finbow as our wig designer. There are 75 wigs, wiglets and Q’s being used from existing or prebuilt hair. Danuta is building 15 wigs from sketch to completion. So our wig total for this production comes in at 90 wigs.

Shoes are an important aspect of any ballet. Wardrobe’s second assistant Erin Lee gathers all necessary information, and with the assistance of “shoe lady” Genie Lanfear and production coordinator Kate Eubanks pulls together all the necessary footwear.

This week we are in final fittings with the designer and will begin all the finishing work to pull the production together. Wardrobe’s first assistant Jerry Wolf is busy gathering information that will tell him what he needs to do to run the show at the theatre, i.e. how many dressers we’ll need, where costume changes will take place, laundry issues, load-in, fitting schedules, etc.

The costume shop (full of drapers, cutters, crafts technicians, interns, and volunteers) has been working on Marie for the last 12 months, all while building, altering, and restoring other productions simultaneously.

My job as the supervisor is to oversee the entire process and keep us on budget. How’s that for a job description in one line? All joking aside, this process is familiar, like any other large build. The fun is that it’s a new production, and of course the costumes are fantastic. The crew here at the Houston Ballet is an incredibly talented group of people – collectively there are many decades of experience. This is my twelfth season with the Ballet, and this production is something I am very proud to have been a part of.

Hopefully you can join us on February 26 to see all of our hard work on the stage!

-Laura

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