Are you considering a career in the field of clothing design? You should be warned that this is a diverse field, so it’s key that you determine whether you are you more suited to fashion or costume design. Helen Beaumont considers the difference between costume design and fashion design.
It’s important to note that there are key similarities between costume design and fashion design, which is why they are often confused for each other. With either discipline, you will be required to sketch designs, make clothes from a variety of fabrics and understand how to combine colours and textures to create styles. But the duties involved in costume and fashion design drastically differ…
Costume designer duties
Primarily, as a costume designer you will create clothing for actors. Your ultimate goal will be to develop pieces which allow TV, movie and theatre productions to transport viewers to other, far-away worlds. Key costume design tasks differ from those required in fashion design, therefore, because there is a lot more emphasis on entertainment value. Costume designers may be either hired by companies or as freelancers by different production outfits, depending on their schedules.
Fashion designer duties
In contrast, as a fashion designer you will be mainly concerned with developing clothing for the general public to wear. Most fashion designers possess the ability to create clothes for all demographics but some will specialise in one market, while more talented creatives in this industry will also focus on developing stylish clothing and even sparking fashion trends. If you work in this sector, you will probably be hired by an apparel firm, but some fashion designers do operate on a freelance basis.
Career Igniter notes that there are several other important differences. Originality is key in fashion design, as you will need to create innovative new pieces. It is less important in costume design, where you can often recreate clothing based on historical records and production notes. But there are times e.g. when dressing non-human characters or working with fictional time periods, where as a costume designer, you will need to be very imaginative, to lend the incomprehensible an illusion of reality.
Collaboration also plays a far larger role in costume design, than fashion design. Yes, as a fashion designer you will often be required to consult with other parties, especially a head designer if you work with an apparel company, but you will largely operate independently. In contrast, even if you’re a freelancer, as a costume designer you will need to collaborate with others during every step of your creative process, from initial meetings with directors and producers, to fittings with actors.
Gain your qualifications
If you the costume design industry is right for you, you would be advised to gain the appropriate qualifications, learning useful skills. It is vital that you perform extensive research when finding your desired costume design course. Some programmes offer it as part of wider fashion design studies, so by researching various institutions, you can enrol on the best course for you and start a brilliant career!
About Helen Beaumont
Helen Beaumont’s career started at Camberwell College of Art, where she studied the History of Art and Design, specialising in costume during her final year. After completing study, Helen became a costume buyer for theatre and opera. She has since become a professional costume designer, with a keen interest in period clothing. Throughout her career, Helen has created authentic costumes for prestigious companies such as the Universal Studios, Disney, BBC, Tiger Aspect and the Young Vic Theatre.