North Texas Daily

Day in the Life: Costume Designer

Day in the Life: Costume Designer

June 14
11:58 2013

Elizabeth Webb/Intern

Rose Costumes is a treasure trove of fantasy, clothing and a vast assortment of elaborate accessories. To the left of the shop entrance is Sherwood Forest, and a turn beyond that is the world of Sweeney Todd.

The store contains more than 5,000 costumes with more than 65 percent crafted by owner Judy Smith.

“I loved to sew,” Smith said. “I was really excited about making costumes and started making them like a crazy woman. I became a costume designer by people needing it and wanting to meet the need.”

Smith, decked out in bright colors and big glasses, discovered she had a passion for sewing along with her degree as a clinical technician. She and partner Patsy Moran opened Secondhand Rose in 1973 where she sold vintage furniture, hats, jewelry and clothing. Smith would sew jeans in the backroom while Moran ran the floor, and eventually Smith opened her own shop in 1976.

With no formal training or knowledge about renting costumes, Smith learned everything she good about the industry from other professionals.

Most of Smith ideas come from scouting out garage sales, an activity she does every Saturday morning. She maps out the city of Denton and stops by 20-25 sales.

“It’s one of the best parts of my business,” Smith said. “That’s what I really love to do.  I’ll buy a piece of fabric that inspires me to run home and make use it.”

The time that goes into making each piece depends on the costume, ranging from the usual eight hours to the occasional 40-hour outfit.

Smith has moved to providing costumes for school theater groups to avoid being a Halloween-only shop.

“They come in, we love to costume them here, they love to come to the store and they get to see what goes into costuming,” said Annemarie Aldrich, store manager who has a background in fashion and cosmetics.

The most popular show they rent out is “Wizard of Oz,” followed by “Beauty and the Beast” and “Hairspray.”

Fellow employee and UNT music composition graduate student Daniel Bernardo builds props, works with makeup design and is a costume consultant.

“She has been doing this so long that she clearly knows what she’s doing,” he said. “She goes off on adventures and comes back with arms full of vintage clothing or the head from a Terminator or scrap metal and she’ll say ‘Hey guys, what can we do with these?’”

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