You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Costume Designers Vying for Emmy Glory Crafts Garments to Fit Demanding Shows

In TV’s new world of HD cameras, tighter-than-tight deadlines and all-angles shooting, costume designers must strive to withstand the kinds of physical and technological strains that could pull their creations apart.

Whether making a wardrobe for performance shows including ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” NBC’s “The Voice” or VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”; for sketch comedies such as NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”; or scripted dramas like Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” costume designers must contend with HD and what it means for their color and fabric choices.

“Purple is a perfect example of how HD can affect what you’re doing because it’s a mixture of red and blue so you don’t really know how it’s going to look on camera, and we don’t do camera tests because there’s no time, and sometimes we get a request for something on a Friday that will air on Saturday,” says costume designer Tom Broecker, a 2014 Emmy winner for “SNL.” “For us it’s also a whirlwind because of how fast things change in politics, and the writers will want to do something with that right away.”

For “Unfortunate Events,” HD means going the extra mile to get that lived-in feeling for the clothes. “We use this wonderful, sticky stage dirt to give them a fantastic disgusting look because we wanted everything to be of this place,” says costume designer Cynthia Summers.

Then there are also physical performance challenges for some shows that only add to the excitement for designers. If someone will walk a runway or do a big dance number in a costume, then they might have to make an adjustment at rehearsal. But they also always need to add some glitz and help a dance contestant or drag performer make a showy case for their work.

 “Sometimes we don’t realize there’s going to be a low camera angle or that one of the dancers is going to swing over another dancer, so we have to do some last-minute lace to cover up something that’s showing that shouldn’t,” says Daniela Gschwendtner, who has been Emmy-nommed twice for her work on “Dancing With the Stars.”

“The costumes have to move with the dancers so we’re always working to see how we can give them something that works with the song, the style of dance and steps they will do.”

Erin Hirsh, costume designer nominated twice for her work for NBC’s “The Voice,” tries to help contestants find a look that will give them confidence while they compete. She often adds embellishments for an extra pop. Zaldy Goco, who has worked with RuPaul for many years, also aims for impact.

“[RuPaul] wants to look like a goddess,” says Goco, last year’s Emmy winner in the category for variety, nonfiction or reality program costumes. “The fabrics, the design, it all has to work and be glamorous at the same time because drag doesn’t sit still.”

(Pictured above: Actor Jordan Fisher and partner Lindsay Arnold in “Dancing With the Stars”)

More TV

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez 'Absolutely' Wants to Direct Film and Television

    Jennifer Lopez epitomizes the phrase “she’s done it all” — but there’s still more that the superstar would like to do. Lopez recently directed her first music video, “Limitless,” the track featured on her new rom-com “Second Act,” and it seems the multi-hyphenate has caught the directing bug. “Absolutely, absolutely,” Lopez responded when asked by [...]

  • Kaya Scodelario

    Kaya Scodelario Joins Netflix Ice Skating Drama 'Spinning Out'

    Kaya Scodelario has signed on for the lead role in the upcoming Netflix drama “Spinning Out,” Variety has learned. Scodelario takes over the role that was previously held by Emma Roberts, who bowed out in October. She stars as Kat Baker, an up-and-coming, high-level single skater who’s about to turn in her skates after a disastrous [...]

  • Kevin Hill

    Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia's Seven Bucks Productions Names Kevin Hill Head of TV and Digital Content

    Seven Bucks Productions, the production company co-founded by Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia, has named Kevin Hill the head of television and digital development. In this role, Hill will identify, develop and produce new scripted and unscripted projects for Seven Bucks Productions and Seven Bucks Digital Studios. His background includes a six-and-a-half year stint at WME working [...]

  • Cardi B iHeart Radio Music Awards

    iHeartRadio Music Awards Move to Fox

    iHeartMedia and Fox Broadcasting Company today announced the return of the iHeartRadio Music Awards in 2019. The show will air live on Thursday, March 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, and will also stream online and broadcast live on iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide. Performers will be announced in [...]

  • Best TV Shows of 2018

    The Top 20 TV Episodes of 2018

    This year provided TV fans with one of the most promising pilots in years (“Barry”) and an all-time-great series finale (that of “The Americans”), but there was plenty in between, too. The following are 20 of Variety’s critics’ favorite episodes to have aired all year, across genres. Of note: while episodes of “Atlanta,” “Barry,” “BoJack [...]

  • Jennifer Garner J.J. Abrams

    Jennifer Garner, J.J. Abrams Reunite for Limited Series at Apple

    Apple has given a straight-to-series order to a limited series starring Jennifer Garner and executive produced by JJ Abrams, Variety has learned. “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” based on the 2017 memoir of the same name by Amy Silverstein, follows a group of women who supported Silverstein as she waited for a second life-saving [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content