Since the beginning of performance, costumes have always played an important role. Whether it’s dressing a man in a tailored suit to play a chief executive, or in rags to play a beggar.
Costumes transform actors into believable people on screen.
But the magic doesn’t just happen. Wardrobe stylists are always working hard behind the scenes months in advance to keep the characters’ make-believe worlds real for viewers to enjoy.
Local wardrobe co-ordinator Masego Marite styles the characters of e.tv’s drama Imbewu - The Seed. She has been with the show since last year.
"It’s our job is to understand the characters, then designer their wardrobe to make them look the part. We also need to make sure that we maintain the continuity of the look each week to make it believable for our viewers,” said Marite.
She said that when she joined the show, she had to learn character bios and their social statuses before putting their looks together.
“A lot of work goes into styling. We work in a team and are given the script way in advance. It’s our job to read the script, discuss and plan out each character's look for each scene. If we don’t have something for them to wear, then we make or buy it,” she said.
She admitted she didn’t always get it right.
“Over time we get to know each character's body shape and what would look good on them. However, sometimes what we think looks good doesn’t necessarily look good on camera. So then we would have to work around the look,” said Marite.
She said her favourite character to style was MaZulu (Leleti Khumalo).
“It has always been a dream to work with her. Her character on Imbewu is beautiful and stylish. She’s a mature lady so we go for a more avant garde look. We style her in a lot of A-line dresser with a nice cat sleeve topped with jewellery and shoes."
To stay on top of the fashion game, Marite’s is constantly on social media, Pinterest and watching Fashion TV to stay in the loop on the latest trends.
“The game is always changing so we need to be on top of it. I use these platforms to get ideas, which I then tweak for the characters,” she said.
Jabulile Maselani, a seamstress for Scandal! said her job was to make sure the characters had outfits to wear. The wardrobe design team, comprised of seven people, had a huge responsibility.
“We do storyboards for each character and then design their looks. Thereafter we sew the clothes for them. There are occasions where we buy outfits from the shop, but that’s very rare,” Maselani said.
She started her career at an early age when she worked with her mother during school holidays. She then went on to work on shows overseas, but returned home because she wanted to mother her children.
“Working abroad was tough. Working on films is different, I would have to sew chains and use different materials too. But the biggest challenge was being away from my children. I wanted to be a present mother, so I packed up and came back home,” she said.
She said since being on Scandal! she had stitched over 3 000 garments for the characters on the show since its inception in 2005.
“The highlight for me is sewing wedding dresses for the soap. We have just finished designing and sewing a dress that will showcase on air soon. Make sure you tune in,” she said.