Dress for success: Costume design at NDSU

The costume design shop in Askanase Hall is an eclectic mix of textiles and textures. Costume design student Anjolie Lo is measuring and adjusting a costume on a dress form for NDSU’s upcoming production of “Jekyll and Hyde.”

“All of the best dramatic clothing, in my opinion, are costumes,” said Lo, a sophomore from Minneapolis. “All the best dresses and fanciest suits come in costumes. I think that’s so amazing.”

Lo remembers always loving costumes and the detail that went into designing them. She transferred to NDSU to study costume design by majoring in design and technical theatre with an emphasis in costuming.

To Lo, one of the appeals of the of the NDSU program was its size. The small student-to-faculty ratio provides numerous opportunities to learn alongside instructors and build skills.

“It’s really amazing to be able to work in such a small environment. You get a lot of one-on-one training,” she said. “I’ve seen other students who have an interest in costuming go from never touching a sewing machine to being able to put together a full garment in less than a semester. That’s the kind of thing you just don’t get in a large school.”

Costume design students build costumes, learn period styles and create and present original ideas through drawings and style boards. They also collaborate with students, directors, choreographers and set and light designers to develop the creative vision of a show.

Costume designers are found in theatre, film, TV, ballet and opera.

“Students also take what they have learned about the design process and collaboration to work in other areas of clothing manufacture and related fields,” said Rooth Varland, professor and costume designer at NDSU.

Theatre NDSU performs a range of plays throughout the year that have diverse costuming needs. Students in the costume department work in the shop to both design and build all the costumes needed.

Lo was one of the principal stitchers for NDSU’s winter production of “The Crucible.” That was her first show building most of the costumes. She’s had a memorable experience.

“Honestly, the best part of it is being able to go into the shop every day and create stuff,” Lo said. “There’s never a single day where I’m not sewing now, and that is the dream. That is amazing to me.”