Responsible for designing or collecting the production's entire wardrobe, the costume designer dresses the cast of a production. From hats, glasses, gloves, and pocket squares to dresses, slacks, shirts, and jackets, the costume designer selects the appropriate costumes for the characters, taking into consideration the time period and style of the production and the director's point of view. The costume designer may also coordinate with the wigs and makeup teams to create a complete look.
There are three types of costume designers:
Freelance designers: these designers are hired for productions and may work on several pieces at once. They do not have to work on location. Payment comes in three installments: "upon hire, on the delivery of final renderings, and [on] opening night of the production," says Wikipedia.
Residential designers: these designers are hired by a specific theater to work on several productions over a period of time, ranging from a single summer program to several years. Typically, residential designers work "on location."
Academic designers: these designers are often professors who instruct at schools. While their main job is teaching, they may also work as residential designers or freelance designers, depending on the amount of free time they have.
Two specific costume designers who have created award-worthy costumes include John Napier (for Cats) and Susan Hilferty (for Wicked).
- Cats: John Napier created the stunning costumes for the musical Cats, winning a Tony Award for Best Costume Design in 1983. Wearing colored leotards, srunchy knee socks, and long furry tails, the dancers transform from humans to cats the moment they set paw — er, foot — on the stage. Cat-like ears and furry manes complete the look. Though all are cats, each character looks different — Old Deuteronomy, a large and wise cat, has a thick grey coat of fur, while Rum Tum Tugger, the "rebel of the group," is dressed in black with a wild mane.
- Wicked: According to costume designer Susan Hilferty, "My goal was to create a third world, a world that we considered to be a parallel universe. It's a world where animals can talk, so we know it's not our world. It's a world that deals with a kind of inventiveness — that's that we might call magic. The boundaries of the world are different than anything we know or are familiar with, but at the same time, the issues for the people of this world of Oz are in many cases the same kind of issues we deal with. So I knew it had to be something that was of the imagination but in some ways had to thread back to things that we knew."