Are We What We Wear? – The Costume Designer (with Isis Mussenden & LaShell Gibbs)

Isis Mussenden is an international costume designer whose film credits include The Chronicles of Narnia, the two animated classics, Shrek and Shrek 2, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, American Psycho, and The Waterdance. She has earned Cable ACE and BAFTA nominations for her designs and was the recipient of both Saturn and CDG awards and a 2018 Ciclope Gold Award. Isis is a native of Los Angeles and attended the University of California at Santa Barbara as a studio art major and later graduated from New York’s prestigious Parsons School of Design earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design.

Isis joins us to share her insights into character development and telling stories through clothes and costume. She discusses how she came to be the first costume designer credited on an animated film and describes the intricacies of what she does as a costume designer, particularly the differences between working with human actors versus animated characters. Isis also shares how she became interested in costume design and dives into the details of some of her favorite recent projects.

“There 10 million paths into the business…we’re just opening the doors of access, and showing how many different careers and career paths that there are in film and television.” – Adam Leipzig

“You have a whole new perspective. You don’t have any preconceived notions whatsoever.” – Tamika Lamison

“Way before I even think of a piece of clothing, I’m just thinking about the story, the character, the person, the way an actor does, but the difference is I have to be all the actors.” – Isis Mussenden

Highlights This Week:

  • How Isis manages to tell character stories even within very specific period constraints as she did in films such as 13 Days, directed by Roger Donaldson.
  • How Isis comes into a movie—how she pitches herself and her ideas to the filmmaker.
  • The jobs that Isis interviewed for and didn’t get and why she remains philosophical about the process of finding jobs that are an excellent fit for her personality and skills.
  • The key roles and responsibilities of working as a costume designer and why Isis feels it’s beneficial for graduates to start at the bottom in the industry they love.
  • Why terminology matters and the difference between the terms “wardrobe designer” and “costume designer.”
  • How Isis’ close relationship with her mother led to her pursuing her interest in costume design.
  • Some of the past projects that Isis is particularly proud of.
  • Isis’ advice for one of MediaU’s emerging costume designers.

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