“Tartuffe” | Inside the costume shop

“Tartuffe” | Inside the costume shop


[Music: Handel, The Rejoicing] My name is Anita Yavich and I’m the costume designer for Tartuffe. You know, what is so interesting about the 17th Century is that you have the baroque movement on one hand. So, you have aristocrats and people who have a lot of money. Just from head to toe every single inch has been thought-out and decorated. [Peter DuBois] There’s something in the period that represented a sort of over-the-top-ness and so what we’ve tried to do is grab those values, people literally seeing themselves as their own drama, and adapt that to a modern sensibility. When we thought, “Oh, maybe we can do it modern.” I thought, “Oh, my god.” I thought it would be great to reference all these Dolce & Gabbana ad campaigns. What we were really looking at were clothes that are, like, overdone. Almost like, they’re all dressed up with nowhere to go and they’re home the whole time, right? And I think people are going to be shocked at how well the play, you know, that was written in the 17th Century holds up to a contemporary interpretation. I think it makes it so exciting and it makes the play really come alive. My name is Nancy Hamann and I am the costume director at the Huntington Theatre Company. Normally we work from sketches that the designers do, but in this case we’re working from collages. So we have collages of all the characters and then we find things that we can purchase and fit to our particular actors. We bought one suit that was very specific. You will recognize this peacock suit in the show. Of course, with Valere we also want to play with, I mean, I love this Alexander McQueen suit. Just everything works. And there’s just something otherworldly about this but, of course, something very excessive about that. [Nancy Hamann] In the case of Madame Pernelle we decided with her that she should be a built costume. Then, of course, with Madame Pernelle, this is a work in progress, but we really based her design on a Chanel suit. So Tartuffe, Orgon, and Madame Pernelle – they’re all in black. You know, they are like the “pious” ones. But of course, they are filthy rich, so she is in this, like, shiny outfit with beaded trim. This person is not… all about
self-control, let’s say. We want to make sure that we get things right. So it’s always a balancing act. In the case of Tartuffe, we had to do so many high-end things, or things that were believably high-end. But it is worth it, because when it’s on stage, it will look expensive. It will move a certain way, it will reflect light a certain way. They’re running and jumping and sliding on the floor and doing all kinds of exciting things in their costumes. We want the audience to see as beautiful a show on the last night as they do on opening night. And that’s why we have a crew here to maintain the costumes throughout. We are blessed to have some amazing craftspeople who do beautiful, beautiful work, and they are the reason that everything looks as good as it does.

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