Graduate student finds passion for fashion and costume design
by Logan Beck
Graduate student Ariel Wang’s love for fashion stemmed when she was an undergrad, studying communication, as she ventured to become a fashion editor.
Unfortunately, there was no fashion major in the university she attended in China, which prolonged her dream of studying it. Until, she got to Temple.
“In order to get the basic knowledge of costume construction and fashion history, I took a costume design class as an elective,” Wang said. “That’s the first time costume design officially came into my life.”
With no former experience, Wang fell in love with costume design quickly, learning to draw in the class and developing her own creative process.
Now, she is an MFA Design candidate in the theatre program, and serves as the costume designer for Temple Theaters’ production of The Odyssey, where she gets to put her passion on paper, and see it come to life.
“What I enjoy the most is the creative process and the journey each play takes me,” Wang said. “From the text on paper to images in my head, to research, and to a final costume on an actor. No two shows are the same, and no two processes are exactly the same. I can always learn new things.”
For Mary Zimmerman's The Odyssey, Wang is responsible for coming up with concepts, conducting research, completing costume renderings, doing fittings and more.
“The Odyssey is a 'story in story' play, so there are a lot of quick changes and a lot of changes happened on stage,” Wang said. “Also, the story has a various characters, such as human, animals, gods, goddess, witch and sea creature. So one of my biggest challenges is to keep the story flow, and make sure the characters are well defined.”
For this particular production, Wang began her creative process by reading the script and thinking about potential designs, letting the play inspire her.
The Odyssey inspired her to use the elements of nature in her design, and how the gods use the elements and weather to communicate with humans on Earth.
“After talking with the director [Brandon McShaffrey] and other designers, we want to create a classic but timeless world, which makes the research became rather challenging,” Wang said. “I have been trying to create a world of classism without putting actual ancient Greek toga on stage. I am also trying to incorporate elements from different cultures into my design to create the world. My research range is from ancient Greek statue, Greek myth archetypes, to modern runways.”
As for the future, Wang hopes to continue to do costume design for professional works, and maybe even pursue a career in film costume design.
“I would encourage anyone who wants to pursue a career in theater area, or any other area that is new to you, don’t be afraid of trying things you are not familiar with,” Wang said. “I found myself learning from this experience the most.”
Temple Theaters The Odyssey, adapted by Mary Zimmerman and directed by Brandon McShaffrey, runs Wednesday, March 16 - Saturday, March 26 in the Tomlinson Theater. Ticket are now available.