Costume Designer Georgianna Londré's creations each become a "visual extension of the characters."

The Clothes Make the Woman 

Costume Designer Georgianna Londré's creations each become a "visual extension of the characters."

Those who have theater in their blood all tell a similar story -- the day they caught the bug. Costume designer Georgianna Londré -- whose credits in the past two months include Art at the Unicorn, Gatherings in Graveyards at The Coterie, and Late Night Theatre's The Birds -- was about 5 years old. Her mother, Missouri Repertory Theatre's dramaturge Felicia Londré, remembers it well.

"She came home from a play at The Rep talking about how the hem of a skirt had been used in an earlier production," she recalls. "She had recognized some fabric from an earlier show and I knew."

"I would go home and draw the costumes after a show," says the 26-year-old designer, who credits her family's embrace of the arts for the prolific career she currently enjoys. She is the Unicorn's resident costume designer after one season of freelance work, wardrobe supervisor for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, and costumer for Late Night, putting clothes on performers at the Old Chelsea Theatre (where for years it was more common to have performers shed them).

"Costumes are a visual extension of the characters. My job is to be true to those characters, giving clues to their personalities," she says. "They have to be believable from the moment they walk out. And you notice when it's wrong."

Londré can dissect her process for each show with the clarity of an eye surgeon. "I read the script at least once and go to the first read-through with the cast," she says. "I love the read-through because I get a sense of the actor's look and how he or she will approach their character. Then, until the show opens, there is constant collaboration with the director, the actors, and the design team. There have been shows where costume pieces were changed up to and during the technical rehearsal. Lighting, for example, can affect or wash out how the clothes look, which you won't know until the lights come up."

Each show brings its own budget, of course, and its own set of challenges. With the Unicorn budget for Art, she was able to finagle a deal with a local clothing boutique and still have money left over for her next show, the glam-rock gender bender Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Her sketches for that show, which opens December 1, reveal a lot about the title character, a transsexual wannabe rock star whose journey takes her from Berlin to a trailer park in Junction City, Kansas. There is an elaborate cape for the opening song and a custom-made corset for those near the end of Hedwig's virtual disintegration.

"Hedwig deconstructs over the course of the show," she says, "and it's all about flash. Some who've seen it in New York have certain expectations (about the clothes), but I don't want to copy anything. I'm even adding a couple more costume changes than are called for. Just because."

Cynthia Levin, the Unicorn's artistic director, says she's thrilled to count Londré among the theater's resident designers. "When I think about what I try to do at the Unicorn, I like the idea of a company," she says. Though a company of actors isn't one of Levin's goals, she is content with the company of designers. "I like to surround myself with people who do good work and who I like. Georgianna fits into the style of the Unicorn, and perhaps her greatest attribute is her loyalty. So many will fly in, do their stuff, and fly out. She's not so ambitious that what she's working on (at present) is put aside because she gets more money somewhere else. When I have a company who has a sense of a whole season -- talking about one show but thinking three shows from now -- you feel very lucky."

Late Night Theatre impresario Ron Megee says Londré is an asset to his company for her ability to draw vivid blood from tiny stones. "With our low budget, she manages to be creative and come through with the project. Like the Bond girl dresses in Shoctopussy -- she made them out of $50 of cheap sequined material, and they looked great."

Megee's artistic partner, Missy Koonce, agrees that Londré has an uncanny knack for finding just the right dress or wig for the right price. "She's a great scavenger," she says.

Londré admits to an almost predatory focus, which finds her more often than not in vintage clothing stores and thrift shops. She keeps in close contact with her sources and even worked at Re-Runs for a while. "Working there solidified my sense of vintage. You can do research, and I do, but seeing what they really wore and holding it in your hand is invaluable," she says. "I love the thrill of the hunt."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Stage

Facebook Activity

All contents ©2014 Kansas City Pitch LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kansas City Pitch LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.

All contents © 2012 SouthComm, Inc. 210 12th Ave S. Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of SouthComm, Inc.
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Website powered by Foundation