The Master of Fine Arts in Costume Design program at Florida State University provides students with training in the art and practice of costume design. The program is designed to give students the skills they need to continue their growth as costume designers in the American theatre.
Students graduate with an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of costume design for the stage. Design work in opera, dance, and film is also explored. Costume technology is stressed as well, including skills in millinery, fabric modification, costume crafts, and patterning.
Each MFA Costume Design student will design at least three productions while at FSU. A portfolio of executed designs is required for graduation. In addition to applying to the program, students must also apply to Florida State University.
Costume graduate students usually assist and design directing projects during their first year. The second- year students design a season subscription show, as well as assist. Their technology skills will be utilized for productions in any of the skills that they have developed including as a draper, fabric dyer, crafts artisan, etc. The third-year student will continue in this trajectory with a culmination of a MFA Creative Final Project, (practical thesis) in either designing for a large season subscription show or taking on a major technical component for a large show, which could include head draper or crafts artisan, etc.
With major professor’s permission, students can work with the FSU Film School, Opera Department, Dance Department, either designing an MFA film/dance/opera project or working in their shops. Students may have the opportunity to learn and develop their wig and makeup skills through educational and practical experiences.
While at FSU, students may be given the opportunity to teach undergraduate classes during their second and third year.
Assistantship includes a tuition waiver for 60 hours over three years plus a stipend of approximately $16,250 for the year. Students must acquire in-state resident status by the end of their first year. Assistantship duties include working in the costume shop, supervising wardrobe crew or teaching introductory costume classes.
Assistantship work includes various tasks on productions. Each student will be assigned to help build costumes and develop costume skills. This ranges from day to day organization, alterations, stitching, first hand work, as well as the aforementioned pattern making, crafts, dyeing, millinery, wig styling, makeup application, and other technical work. Production work is assigned with student success and career goals in mind.
Five subscription shows that are fully produced each season, including classical and contemporary plays, a children’s show, and two musicals. Previous shows include Something Rotten, In the Heights, The Importance of Being Earnest, Cat in the Hat, We are Proud to Present… Men on Boats, and Eurydice. Lesser produced work including MFA Director One-Acts and devised theatre projects.
Research for projects cover various periods of costume history. Designs of costumes for theatre, dance, opera and film are covered as well as discussions of performances spaces and needs of the performer for each of these. Discussions of best process practice of designing include: script analysis, research techniques, fabric and fiber identifications and knowledge, communication skills, costume plots and budget, fitting protocols and dress rehearsals.
Rendering classes cover both traditional and digital techniques with the overall goal of strengthening drawing skills while improving designer communication techniques. Traditional rendering techniques include various media, analysis of different rendering styles, and analysis of research. Digital rendering explores various software including Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as digital portfolio and website development.
The Costume History Seminar class covers both lectures of the various historic periods plus more in-depth research on traditional and non-Western clothing. Student also research from actual vintage and antique garments.
Classes in costume technology cover a wide range from couture sewing, flat patterning, draping, historic period draping, millinery, crafts, fabric modification, tailoring, corsets and crinolines, wigs, management, etc.
Techniques taught include wig and facial hair construction focusing on hair texture, types, and color, foundation building, ventilating, historical and conceptual design research, and styling. Moreover, traditional stage makeup application emphasizing color theory, skin types and tones, historical influence, and design-based thinking.
Sewing / Patterning Room: Industrial and Domestic machines; including a Bernina embroidery machine, several large cutting tables and dress forms in various sized/styles.
Dye and Craft Room: Specialty equipment including textile digital printer, fabric steamer, industrial dye vat, as well as all appropriate safety equipment.
Costume Storage: Large hanging stock with costumes organized by period, type, gender, and size; Large folded stock in labeled boxes organized by period, type, gender, and size; Hat and shoe room organized by period, type, gender, and size. Over 3250 sq. ft of on-site costume storage.
Laundry Room, Wig Room and Dressing Rooms
A Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from an accredited college or university. Students who do not hold a Theatre degree must show evidence of substantial coursework and/or experience in theatre to indicate probability of achieving success in advanced theatre studies.
A grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) during the last two years of study for a bachelor’s degree, or 3.0 on a master’s degree from an accredited institution; OR have acceptable scores on the verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination taken within the last 5 years.
All applicants must participate in an interview and a portfolio review session, which may be at LINK, URTA or USITT. An on-campus interview is required for all domestic applicants and strongly encouraged for international applicants.
Applicants must submit a completed School of Theatre application, three current letters of recommendation, current resume, and a statement of purpose.
Specific approval of the program director within the School of Theatre.
Associate Professor of Costume Technology
Interim Director, MFA Costume Design Program
239 Fine Arts Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1160