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Substance vs Style

Opportunities open up as filmmakers demand authenticity


Filmmakers are now more aware of the importance of a costume designer.

Nowadays, directors and producers have started expecting authentic and researched clothes for their characters. It’s no longer about giving the actors good-looking clothes.

Earlier, stylists were hired to do clothes for a film. Now, designers are hired to execute the costumes for the characters in a film, so that the actor looks the part he/she is playing. We have to read the script and design the look accordingly.

Earlier, there were different stylists/designers hired to do clothes for different actors but, nowadays, filmmakers and even actors prefer to hire just one designer to execute the entire film so that there is consistency in the look and colour palate. We also have to work in collaboration with the DoP, production designers and the director, which is great.

Opportunities for designers have increased manifold since there is some great content being made on the digital and TV platforms. They too have started hiring designers with a film background.

These days, sourcing fabrics/ clothes, etc has become much more authentic since we are given the freedom to source from places/cities where the story is set. It is very satisfying. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with directors who allow me to do this and actors who believe in this concept.

Whereas, earlier, we were only given the requirement of the film vis-à-vis the clothes and the number of changes, we are now given the script. We make sketches, do a lot of referencing and travel to where the story is set to understand the film better. Accordingly, we design costumes for characters and finally execute it keeping in mind the director’s vision. For example, for my next film, my director insisted that I travel with the team for the first recce and get a feel of the world the film is set in.

In earlier times, filmmakers and actors used to work with a set of designers who they were comfortable with. Now opportunities are opening up as they have started exploring new talent. Nowadays, the genre of the film also dictates a particular designer that should be hired for the job.

– Eight changes in the field of costume designing

(Written by Priyanka Mundada, Costume Designer for over 12 years with films like Raajneeti, Besharam, Satyagraha, Bullett Raja, I Me Aur Main, Chakravyuh, Jai Gangaajal, Super Singh (Pun­jabi) and more to her credit.

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