We recently teamed up with our BFF’s at CelebMix to interview the amazing Barbara Gregusova who was the costume designer on Netflix‘s super-duper Christmas movie The Knight Before Christmas which stars everyone’s favourite Vanessa Hudgens.
We spoke to Barbara about being a costume designer and got a few hints and tips on how to get started in the industry.
How did you get started designing costumes?
It came to me naturally growing up in a family with three generations of artists. My parents had the first Czechoslovakian kids magazine called Babaco and I was one of their models.
My mom, a fashion designer, always made my clothes (until I started to rebel in my teens and insisted on wearing jeans) and as a child, I was always around when she had fittings with her clients.
I think the talent for altering clothes I got by watching her work. Then came my tie-dye period. I was dyeing everything I could get my hands on and when we moved to Canada I started to design and sew my own clothes. I couldn’t keep things simple making dresses and coats which always had more pattern pieces than usual. I’ve always had a tendency to do a lot of alterations to make clothes fit and work for me. Sometimes I needed to do a complete reconstruction. It’s like sculpting on a human body.
After a year at Capilano University’s Costuming for Stage and Screen, I went on Craigslist in search of job opportunities as a Costume Designer. That’s how I was first hired (volunteering) in my first feature film. At that time I knew that if I want to be a designer I would have to volunteer my time to build my resume, so that’s what I did. I made money working part-time in a costume rental shop in the meantime and my first paid design jobs came from the theatre.
Do you have any hints/tips for anyone wanting to become a costume designer?
Be ready to work hard and work for long hours. Finding a balance between your personal life and work-life will be a challenge but you’ll need to try. It is a tough industry and you will have to fight for yourself and your belief in what you are able to do and what is best for the project. You have to trust yourself. I’d also recommend negotiation skills (take a course) and build a support team you trust. You will always need someone to talk to and share ideas.
How long did it take to create the costumes for the movie?
Officially I had one month of pre-production prior to the shoot for The Knight Before Christmas. Unofficially I worked on sourcing the armour and scheduling the first fitting with Josh in London prior, over a one month period.
I spent a week in Vancouver researching what I wanted to do for the main characters, running around the stores and comparing what I might find in Toronto.
My partner drove my costume kit from Vancouver to Toronto knowing that finding winter coats and accessories would be almost impossible at that time of the year – we shot in late spring – and that helped a lot. Then I did three weeks in Toronto where we did most of the fittings and all the shopping we could do before moving two hours north to Bracebridge for the shoot.
As a designer, you continue prepping while you are shooting because there are characters which get cast late or have later start dates. There were lots of days I had to drive back to Toronto. We worked with a really small team so it was all hands on deck all the time.
What other projects do you have coming in in the future?
I have a couple of projects coming up, but since they are all in talks I cannot share any information just yet. However, When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas aired December 25th on Hallmark Channel and the rest of the season will air in the New Year
Let us know your thoughts on The Knight Before Christmas at @Fuzzable!