This week, we talk to Noelle Claire Raffy, an American costume designer and stylist who is now based in London. She works for clients such as Universal Studios, Warner Bros and the Tricycle Theatre...
Full name/age/job title:
Noelle Claire Raffy, 29, Costume Designer & Stylist
Please give us an overview of your average day.
It’s great that in my line of work there are really no “average” days. Everything depends on what the project calls for. A day on the job can be anything from early morning phone calls, pre-production meetings, breaking down a script, budgeting and costing, period clothing research, shopping and buying, fittings with actors and dancers, aging and dying fabric, costume constructing, rehearsals or filming on location.
What is the most common misconception about your job?
Probably that Halloween is my favorite time of year due to all the costumes.
What is the hardest thing about your role?
Both hard and rewarding is being able to be freelance. Trying to juggle all the scheduling and coordinating that goes into this line of work is a challenge. One must be excellent at time management and scheduling, as well as delegating tasks to others.
When did you decide what you wanted to do with your life and how did you set out to achieve it?
I was lucky that I was immersed in theatre since I was a little girl. Both my parents were ballet dancers, so I have grown up backstage with all the beautiful tutus. As soon as I learned that someone designed what the dancers were wearing onstage, I knew I wanted to play “dress up” for my career.
I started out by studying fashion design in school, taking art classes so I could illustrate my designs on paper and taking sewing classes so I could create the look on the performer. After graduating, I offered to assist on films in the wardrobe department and at the ballet to gain experience.
What can you do to get a head start?
Each designer has come to a career through a different path. Be bold and offer to help on projects in any capacity to the people you admire and respect in the field. Gain experience through doing.
Also, make sure you network. Go to all the opening night parties and wrap parties and mingle. It really is about who you know, because who you know will recommend you for your next job.
Could you describe the creative element to your job?
I would say it is taking the concept to creation. It is the idea on paper come to life on the stage or screen. It is a magical feeling to see what you have made become the character you envisioned.
What’s one thing do you wish you had known at the start of your career that you know now?
I wish I had known who I know now. Networking, networking networking.
Which organisations/websites/resources do you think would be useful for people entering your industry?
The role of a Costume Designer according to Skillset.
Reading the industry trade papers is also useful.
For the job hunt, Mandy, Stage Jobs Pro and The Knowledge Online.
For networking, Shooting People and Twitter.
For inspiration, The Telegraph's fashion section online.
Would you like to be featured in Job of the Week? If you work in the creative industries and would love to share your advice, expertise and experience with IdeasTap members, get in touch with our deputy editor at Luiza@ideastap.com.