Five Questions About Costume Design for The Look of Love
1. Was there an inspiration for the costumes you created for The Look of Love?
As with all the shows I design for Mark, the inspiration comes to me from the music, the colors are mandated by certain musical phrases. It’s a kind of synesthesia, which, weirdly expresses itself in what feels like a totally new way each time. Colors are fixed in my head, and I “hear’ them when I hear certain chords or chord changes. As colors go, I often like these sharp, bright colors (which have been preordained by the music) juxtaposed next to beguiling neutrals. I decided to go a little more “sophisticated,” more complex and layered with this color palette than I had originally thought. Also in this show there is a subtle theme of arcs, lines that are arced. They appear in the cut of the clothes if you look closely. That idea came from thinking about the way a spotlight traces the surface of a stage.
2. How do you decide how to dress each dancer? Do you design for each individual dancer, or create designs then fit them on the dancers?
I won’t lie. I think of random outfits, random lines and sketch out a kind of “community” and then work backwards and “cast” the dancers after watching them in rehearsal and talking to Mark and Sam, Company Director, about the different dancers.
3. What are some important factors to consider when designing costumes for dance?
The most important factor about design in general is not to distract from life, but to add to, to enhance life. And so, in dance costumes unrestrictive movement is most important, (not detracting from) but adding to that if possible. I also like the colors to make the most impact and so lighting is almost as important as casting.
4. We hear you’re a big Burt Bacharach fan… How did you feel about being involved in this production?
When I heard Mark was considering the project, I threatened him; if I could not do these costumes, we could not remain friends! A huge part of my life, my childhood, my early adulthood, is centered around these songs, around my feelings for the music of BB. I feel about the songs the way some people feel about religious music. I am filled with awe; they recall my most enlightened moments.
5. What do you enjoy most about working with Mark Morris?
The thing I enjoy most about working with Mark is getting to spend a little time with the dancers who I adore. I’m their huge fan and so being around them is a thrill. Watching them move in close proximity is a gift. Also, they are younger than me and I love hearing and seeing what smart young people are saying and doing.