Typically, when one thinks of designing costumes, you think of the fabric being used, color combinations, and textures desired.  However, sometimes, unconventional means are required in order to best bring the design rendering into reality. 


This semester, I was Costume Designer for the production of “Urinetown the Musical” at SUNY University at Buffalo.  With regards to the above, I am specifically referring to the female “Twah-lette” costumes that were created.  After discussions with the director and other designers, my thought process led me to want these dancers to appear show girl-like, but also to create the image of being toilet brushes, and included the image of toilet brushes on the bodice as well. 


Once the concept and rendering were complete, there came the complication regarding the dancers’ choreography; specifically, they were to be dancing and moving on the floor.  The initial problem I saw with this, were that fabric (even fabric supported with boning and other stiffening agents) would not keep the desired shape.  Through discussions with the costume shop, it was determined that the best course of action would be to use foam with fabric adhered, in order to create the desired shape, which would hold up under the choreographed decisions that were made.


The gathered foam created the perfect layers, which not only allowed the dancers to move as required, but fully transformed my rendering image into reality.  Throughout this process, I have learned that unconventional materials are sometimes the best materials for the job at hand.  It has also inspired me to create a cross-referenced table of unconventional materials and their properties, so that in the future, I’ll have a list of materials that can perform different tasks, and inspire greater costumes.