STORY AND PHOTO BY JEFFREY PINEDA, OPINION/FEATURE EDITOR
Many looked forward to seeing the iconic blood splattered prom dress on stage during Cypress College’s musical adaption of the horror classic “Carrie”; costume designer Bradley Locke reveals the process of reviving the wardrobe pieces and a look into his costume designing career.
“Carrie”, a film based off of Stephens Kings’ horror novel, originally released in 1979, portrays young Carrie White; a sheltered, quiet teen who becomes aware of her supernatural telekinesis abilities after a traumatic humiliation from the high school mean girls. The film follows her adjustment to this discovery as well as the many obstacles White faces, ultimately ending in a prom bloodbath.
The film’s success led it to becoming one of the horror movie genre classics with many recreating her infamous pink blood soaked dress as a Halloween costume.
Rosanna Norton, the designer for the original film who also worked on films like “The Flintstones” and “The Brady Bunch”, originally had intended on making the dress a deep red but opted for a light pink as the blood spattered gown would be more effective against a lighter gown. The simplicity of the dress encourages a timeless look that can never go out of style.
Norton used a pale, satin blush material that ended at the wearer’s toes and a spaghetti strap neckline paired with a chiffon shawl and most importantly a splash of pig’s blood. In the 2013 modern adaptation, designer Luis Sequeira recreated the dress 30 different times for the several hindrances Carrie faces after the prom incidents that took place in the film.
Cypress Colleges’ very own costume designer Bradley Locke had the task and honor of recreating the wardrobe for the actors in the play. Locke has additionally designed costumes for Cypress plays like “Rent” and “The Rocky Horror Show’ as well as one of his earliest designs for Cypress “The Importance of being Hernes” just to name a few.
Since 2012, Locke has continuously shown his passion and commitment for costume design through the details and accuracy portrayed in the performances that the department produces, and has been designing since 2009; freelancing and working at other college campuses.
When working on the designs for “Carrie”, Locke took on a more styling position rather than starting from raw fabric and a sewing needle. Due to the play’s time period taking place in a modern era, finding pieces for the play came easy compared to the other work in his portfolio.
Locke said, “…This show, while there are more people in the cast than say the play or some other musicals, was modern so we have a ton of stuff in stock that we can use that then helps me spend my budget on bigger things that we may need. Where on a period piece I may spend more money on renting stuff”.
Like most school-funded projects, there is a budget that many positions in theater are limited to resulting in many set designers, costume designers, and more to work with what they have, something Locke is familiar with.
To add to the pressure, working with the director’s vision was important for the “Carrie” musical and in cinema as a whole. Locke explains how the designs must stay consistent to the director’s vision for any piece of cinema because after all, it is their show.
“Your designs can’t be precious to you because they are not mine at the end of the day. It’s my job to design,” Locke said, “It’s my skill and creativity that does it but it’s the directors’ show, their vision that I’m trying to facilitate.”
Costume designing for the musical was also a learning process for Locke, similar to the many shows he’s worked on. When approaching the costume design for “Carrie”, Locke said, “In this show, Carrie gets covered in blood so we’re dealing with things we wouldn’t have to deal with. We’re choosing fabrics for Carrie’s prom dress that we know won’t stain and doing different techniques to make the fabric repellent from blood so it can wash out…”.
The process that goes into costume designing is important and requires extensive research in order to accurately portray a piece of cinema. It’s more than fashion and trying to make an actor look good but an important aspect in perfecting the time period, the psychology behind the character and the circumstances of the time.
The costumes for “Carrie” stayed true to those of the film, and perfectly captured the rollercoaster of emotions that each scene invoked making it an enjoyable show for the audience.