Dogfight: Meet the costume designer

Dogfight: Meet the costume designer

When I was asked to design for Dogfight I was excited to be part of a production exploring one of my favourite fashion eras: the 60s.

When I was asked to design for Dogfight I was excited to be part of a production exploring one of my favourite fashion eras: the 60s.

As production week creeps nearer, my costume rail is slowly becoming a tale of two halves. On one end an abundance of 1950’s underskirts spill from the rail, while the other is filled with late 60’s mini skirts and vibrant psychedelic colour. This is the challenge of designing for ‘Dog Fight’, a play set in two very different times.

We first meet Eddie Birdlace, our male lead, in 1967 returning from duty in Vietnam. The rest of the play then takes place in a flashback to 1963, and his final raucous night before deployment. Dogfight is set against the backdrop of dramatic social change during the 1960s, and explores this through the rather personal journeys of self-growth for Eddie and Rose. My challenge as designer was to emphasis these themes, whilst not over powering the very human story which makes dogfight so relatable and fun to watch.

Researching this production I spent a lot of time looking at images from 1960s street photographers: figures such as Vivien Meir, Fred Hozog and Joel Meyerowitz. Their images give not only a snapshot of an era, but also a very personal snapshot of people’s lives; exactly what I wanted to capture in Dogfight. Many of these photographers were experimenting with colour for the first time. Colour photography, met with scepticism from many artists, was beginning to be seen as a new tool for expression and becoming more widely available to the public. I was drawn to the colour palette found in these photographs, and used them to influence the colours of my designs.

It is interesting to see how the political turbulence of the 60s changed the visual world both in photography and clothing. Thinking presently, it is hard not to wonder whether our current political climate will affect the fashions and imagery of today.

I hope that in watching Eddie and Rose’s story in Dogfight, our audience gets the sense of a wider change, beyond that of the immediate viewpoint; a beginning of changing perceptions.