Elaine Garlick, costume supervisor for Aladdin, is interviewed by Susan Turner in the current issue of Entrechat, the magazine of the BRB Friends.
The process of reinterpreting the designs for 2013’s new production of the ballet began in Autumn 2012, with Elaine and Sue Blane, designer, getting together with the costume-makers in London. The meeting enabled them all to discuss Sue’s design requirements, so that they could begin creating prototypes for her approval.
‘Some designers are very specific about how their designs are realised,’ explains Elaine, ‘but Sue falls into the “suggestive” category, preferring to give costume-makers a freer rein, in particular regarding decoration.’
As mentioned in earlier posts, this prototyping process has been ongoing since then, and has already involved an army of 30-40 people working on items for different characters.
‘We use different costume-makers for different projects,’ Elaine says. ‘We don’t go to someone who specialises in tailoring and makes great guard uniforms, if we need a delicate fairy dress, or ask an expert in stretch fabrics to make an elaborate tutu for a princess.
‘We are very fortunate to have a team of fabulous costumiers who totally understand the practicalities of creating costumes for movement and which regularly get thrashed, and who are experienced in working with dancers. They probably even know the dancers they are making for. Our task is to combine the right costume-maker with the right fabric and make everything line up correctly.’
It’s an immense amount of work for Elaine to coordinate, with her estimating that the enormous volume of costumes places Aladdin ‘somewhere between Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty – with Beauty being at the huge end of the scale…’