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Personal Profile

Name: Scott Langridge

Role: Costume Designer

Location: London

Notable Works: Death in Paradise, Benidorm, Cold Call

A little bit more about Scott...

Scott Langridge has been a costume designer for over 25 years! Scott has worked on BAFTA award winning The Leage of Gentlemen, ITV’s Benidorm and BBC’s Death in Paradise. 

Scott started his career at the BBC and gained many years of experience before branching out as a freelancer. His formal training in fashion design and tailoring is coupled with his HND in Costume design from Bournemouth and Poole College of Art.

He brings creativity and originality to his work regardless of budgets. From Period to Contemporary Design, he always pushes for quality and attention to detail, often throwing himself into research to make sure all his work is true and is imbedded in fact!

Scott joins us today to share the depths of costume design and talks more about his long line of impeccable work!

Interview

When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in the industry and how did you go about making it a reality? Was there a specific film that sparked your interest in costume design? 

I studied fashion to begin with and always loved films and TV dramas, so when we had to do work experience, I managed to get a placement at the BBC. There, I worked with a designer who took me under her wing and kept giving me more and more work experience and eventually paid work. From my fashion course, I went on to study Costume Design for the Screen at Bournemouth. I remember being captivated by Star Wars as a kid and watched it 74 times, one summer holiday! I was fascinated by it being able to transport me to another world through the costume and sets…

What is the most challenging part of creating a costume? Where do you find the inspiration?

Inspiration can come from many places, sometimes from the original script but if the script is adapted from a book, I would read the book and sometimes you can get inspiration from reading about a character (be it learning their hobbies or job). I love the research side and whilst I think it gives quality and depth of a character, it can also lead to interesting details in the costume. I get inspiration from many things like architecture and even a period in history or paintings. For The Worst Witch series, I took inspiration from the drawings in the original books and also took notes from German castle architecture.

Can you walk us through the process of creating a costume? Do you get the script first?

Sometimes I’ll start with a script. You get given a backstory of each character and maybe a synopsis of future episodes. It’s difficult when you get only a very basic script, as all you have to go off for a character is the spoken word or stage directions! Often I have a chat with either the writer, producer or director to get a greater idea. I then go away and do some research and start to put a mood board together made up of looks, colours, inspirations etc. I then have another meeting with the producers and the director to discuss the mood board and the direction I’d like to take the characters. From there, it’s a conversation with the actor who also might have some ideas and after obtaining sizes, I’ll start to either design or source the clothing.

I always make sure I have a chat with the production designer regarding the locations so I can work my colours around the locations and sets! I don’t want to dress someone in the same colour as the walls… I like to use vintage and interesting pieces, it makes for a nice end result rather than all my garments from the high street shops. Once I’ve collected enough garments, I arrange a fitting with the cast member and then craft out final looks with accessories. Photographs are also taken to show everyone from the producer, to the director to make-up and production design for the final looks!

Do you generally work closely with other fashion designers to create a costume or do you design from scratch yourself?

When designing from scratch, I generally use one of my tried and tested makers that I’ve used over the years, but sometimes I might collaborate with a bespoke brand that make to order which can be bridal/evening wear, tailoring or something more avant-garde. This will then always have bespoke and custom elements to meet my design needs. For example, like the suits I had made for Kelsey Grammar for Breaking the Bank (2014), they were crafted by Cad and Dandy on Savile Row!

Costume design isn’t just about the look! There’s sourcing materials, fittings and so much more that goes into the creation! How long would it usually take to complete a design?! Handcrafted details must take a while especially!?

Each job is different and when entering a new project, it’s discussed how much prep time will be needed to create the looks. This conversation is with the producers and line producer, and they generally come to an agreement. For the TV series The Worst Witch, everything was designed and created from scratch! I had three months but this is still quite tight and that time frame included the design process, sourcing, presentation of ideas and then the time to actually make it! So, it’s always a tight turnaround and you need to prioritise what’s needed first. In The Worst Witch, I designed many elements from Knitwear to printed fabrics and bespoke jewellery!

Does the production team give you a budget you have to work within and has there been a time that you’ve gone over budget? What is the biggest challenge in keeping within a budget?

There’s always a budget put forward by the production. Generally, if I have all the scripts in advance, I’ll do a rough costing of what I think it will cost (not forgetting a little contingency). But there’s not always an open conversation at the start and like most things there’s an endless amount of money… sometimes, we have to cut or alter ideas to fit the budget.
Depending on the project, I’ll purchase a wardrobe for each cast member that can be used throughout and then do a separate budget for special costumes or episodic characters by giving each episode a designated amount. Like most jobs, things change and it’s always good to keep a running eye on the budget but inevitably, you do go over budget sometimes!

Do you prefer creating costumes or sourcing them?

I love, love, love creating costumes from scratch! The design process, sourcing and using inspirations from all around and then seeing them come alive in front of your eyes is amazing! Similarly, I love sourcing garments and putting a look together. You can tell many stories with clothes… the textures, the fabric, the treatment of costumes and having them broken down, gives the clothing an aged looked as if the person has owned them for years!

Have you ever re-used a costume on different projects?

I have a very large stockroom full of many costumes, mainly contemporary and uniforms which I use on most of my productions. I have a few favourite ties and jewellery pieces that use and re-use, but I’ve never actually re-used a one off or statement costume. Each job is a new chapter in my career so I love to create fresh and new all the time.

During a shoot, an actor might be wearing the same costume for days if there’s a lot of scenes to film! In that case, do you have to make duplicate costumes for that one cast member/project?

If a costume is a statement costume, has delicate beading or is that characters’ key costume then yes, we have multiple’s made. Similarly, if there’s stunts, I make maybe three of the same costume; one for the main cast member, one for the stunt man/woman and a ‘just in case’!!!
If garments aren’t going to be used much and can be laundered then, only one is normally needed. But, if filming in hot countries (which I’ve done on many occasions), then its wise to buy a few extras as people sweat and so you have to keep changing them.

How do you choose which projects you work on? Is there anything you look for within the script/story/themes etc.?

I love a challenge! I love to find new things out and stretch myself mentally and artistically, so if a project is centred around a period in time or location with fascinating local traditions to learn, that excites me! …I love learning about history and how it influenced what and how people wore clothing. We’re always learning and so, I’m always on the look out for new and interesting projects.

Do you have any advice to anyone who would want to become a costume designer and doesn’t know how to get their first job in the industry?

Becoming a costume designer is not a fast route. I would study fashion and costume design to gain techniques and skills… start with work experience, listen and always be happy to help (even if its to make a cup of tea for a stressed out costume designer, it will be appreciated!). I’d say to do every role in the costume world you possibly can – it’s great to get a handle on each role as you climb your way up to costume designer. That way, you have an understanding of what each role does in the chain and gives you more experience.

Scott’s work in pictures:

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Estelle
Author: Estelle

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