August 2005

Costume Design 101: The Art And Business Of Costume Design For Film And Television

Michael Wiese Productions

  • 11288 Ventura Boulevard, Suite #621
  • Studio City , CA


The title abc Costume Design 101: The Art and Business of Costume Design for Film and Television xyz suggests that you will learn something about how to design costumes by reading this book. Actually, this book is almost entirely about the business of costume design, and in a sense, it is far more valuable because of this focus. The author, Richard La Motte, is an expert in the costume design business and he tells you everything you need to know to get started.

La Motte has set out a great deal of information in a very orderly fashion. He starts with “breaking down the script,” which gives a costume designer’s perspective on reading and analyzing a script, creating an overall costume plan, and jotting down some basic financial figures. His advice on the politics of filmmaking is excellent. He includes tips on how to deal with the people on the set, such as how to soothe actors’ egos, and how to negotiate with difficult directors. La Motte tells you how to accumulate your costumes, focusing mainly on renting from costume shops, and he includes information and personal anecdotes about balancing the costume department’s budget. He goes in-depth on how to alter pre-made costumes, both permanently and temporarily, and he touches on creating your own.

Throughout the book, La Motte makes it clear that good planning is crucial to your success as a costume designer. Even with planning, however, there will be many problems that you don’t anticipate. In that case, you have to think of a solution quickly. His personal stories illustrate some of the problems he has faced and his sometimes unconventional solutions that kept the film rolling. abc Costume Design 101 xyz is not the best resource to learn how to design and create your own costumes. It is, however, the very best resource to learn how to become a Costume Design Department Supervisor. Anyone considering going into the business of costume design should read this book.

Reviewer: Robin Dodge, FIDM Library Staff Member