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Film & TV Costume Design Students Create the Zombie Apocalypse in Studio Design Class

Film & TV Costume Design Students Create the Zombie Apocalypse in Studio Design Class

Film & TV Costume Design students in Angela Eads’s class, Studio Design Project 1 (DESN 4680), recently presented their costume designs for this quarter's Zombie Apocalypse project. Natalie Stefan, Lynlea Michaels, Eliza Penvellyn, Koalani Walkoe, Samuel Maybee, Sabrina Siqueiros, and KerriAnne Savastano created a character and a setting in which they either survived the Zombie Apocalypse or succumbed to it, then created the costume designs accordingly employing aging, dyeing, and distressing techniques that included tools such as razor blades, wire brushes, box cutters, Schmere sticks, and Fuller’s earth.

surfer zombie

Natalie Stegan’s “Chad, The Surfer” was in Japan when a nuclear waste explosion transformed him into a zombie. His costume reflected the rips and stains that happened when he was tossed about in the ocean as he was surfing. 

surfer zombie head with green hair

His hair turned green as he slipped off his surfboard and got tangled up in the seaweed. Natalie used a razor blade to age the costume, as well as fake blood and Fuller’s earth, a clay material used in the film industry.


For this assignment, Lynlea Michaels created Margaret, a woman who was on vacation celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary on a secluded beach in Papua New Guinea when her husband was turned into a zombie by a mosquito bite. He, in turn, chomped on his wife’s head, turning her into a zombie. To create holes in the costume, Lynlea used razors, a steel brush, and a Schmere kit (aging stiicks described as oily crayons). An essential costuming tool, Schmere sticks are the industry standard when it comes to applying colors to costumes to create the look of grass and sweat stains, and so much more.

zombie noir detective costume

1940’s noir detective Jim Archer, created by Eliza Penvellyn, was searching for the source of the zombie outbreak when a guard attacked him at a warehouse. As he was trying to escape over a fence, he got stuck on the barbed wire and zombies got him. Eliza added bloody handprints, claw marks, and a fatal bite mark on the shoulder of the blazer.

ballerina zombie costume

Koalani Walkoe sourced used ballet pointe shoes from Etsy for “The Ballerina,” her zombie who couldn’t stop dancing.

ballerina zombie costume bloody handprint on bodice

In fact, her dancing partner left a bloody handprint around her torso when he tried to stop her, and her skirt was splashed with blood from her blood-soaked ballet slippers. Already in the fashion industry for the past six years, Koalani has experience in tea dyeing, a technique she used to age the ballet costume.

zombie teenager costume

Samuel Maybee’s zombie is Sonny, whose overconfidence at surviving the apocalypse sent him venturing out to get food and supplies. He fell on a spike and got infected. Once he turned into a zombie he got whacked in the head. Samuel said he used glycerin to create the sweat stains on the costume.

zombie in school girl uniform costume

One of only two students to create a zombie apocalypse survivor, Sabrina Siqueiros’s character is Saoirse, a young girl in a school uniform who was shot in the shoulder and covered in blood. The girl killed her teacher, who was a zombie, with a hurling stick. Sabrina said she sourced some of the looks for the costume from Jet Reg, a vintage clothing store on La Brea that hosts $1 sales on Sundays.

zombie apocalypse survivor costume

KerriAnne Savastano was the second student to create a zombie survivor. Inspired by KerriAnne’s own mother, her character, Tara Kaye, is a preschool teacher living in Pittsburgh, PA. The year is 2045 and all of her students have turned into zombies. Details such as ripped sweater cuffs and missing buttons indicate an attack from the zombie toddlers.

scary clown mask

KerriAnne further tells the tale by having her character escape to the Pennsylvania woods for six months, keeping the children away by wearing a scary clown mask.

several zombie costumes

One of 15 required courses in the Advanced Study program, the course investigates fabrics, tools, and the techniques necessary for costume construction, including patterning, sewing, and fitting, with projects that include aging, dyeing, and allied crafts. In this quarter, students begin work on a costume of their own design which is completed for exhibition in the second quarter.

FIDM Film & TV Costume Design students design costumes for Master's Thesis films in collaboration with American Film Institute, USC Lucas Film School, and Chapman University—under the director of the program, Jacqueline SaintAnne, Emmy Award winning costume designer and past president of the Costume Designers Guild.

Categories:  Film & TV Costume Design Student