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More than knowing how to thread a needle, costume design involves historical research, collaboration with actors and directors, keen attention to detail, the art of narrative storytelling through clothes … and that's just the beginning. A bachelor's (B.A.) or master's in fine arts (MFA) can give a leg up. (Although some, like Jacqueline Durran, who won an Oscar in 2013 for her work in Anna Karenina, do not major in costume design.)
"I don't know if there is anything that can prepare you for your first forays into theater and Hollywood," says Hamilton costume designer Paul Tazewell. "Both formats are terrifying — you just jump into the trenches and keep your head above water long enough for the next job offer." UCLA chairman of costume design Deborah Nadoolman Landis advises to keep the following in mind when choosing a school: "The ideal program will have a robust, fully integrated theater, film and television curriculum. Students must feel confident to design in all media, including gaming."
THR consulted costume designers and academics to put together the top 10 undergraduate and graduate programs. All fees cited are for base annual tuition, and all MFA programs require three years.
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