Tales from a Hollywood Costume Designer

Christina Marie, Hollywood Costume Designer

First and foremost, being a costume designer can mean a multitude of things. It could be anything from designing wardrobe from the stage to the big screen to the runway. Christina Marie, does it all.

Have you ever watched your favorite TV series or film and wondered where the Elizabethan garb came from or who was wearing what on the runway?

They were created, potentially from scratch by a Hollywood Costume Designer.

Yes, for all of you fashionistas reading, the life of a costume designer or stylist absolutely has its glamour – spending the day on movie sets and behind-the-scenes at the Grammy’s. But Christina Marie shares with us the realness behind this demanding and ever-evolving love affair with fashion, styling, and the red carpet.

Jen Yih, our staff writer at SuperShe, sat down in Christina Marie’s West Hollywood apartment filled with beautiful natural light, stacked with books, vases of dried flowers and half drank bottles of red wine from the night before, to get exclusive insight on the life of a Hollywood Costumer Designer.

What does the average day look like for a, specifically, Hollywood Costume Designer or Stylist?
“There’s no average day. It’s always different and my schedule is always unpredictable. It’s always controlled by other people. It’s always something that you kind of have to be able to roll with at all times. Some days I’ll have absolutely nothing going on and other days I’ll work 16 hours on set with a 4AM call time and sometimes I do that for 29 days in a row.”

“It always fluctuates. Running your own business has its ebbs and flows. Especially in the entertainment industry – when it rains it pours, if I book one job, I’ll book 17 jobs and I’ll always get job offers at the same f*ckin’ time. Say I don’t work for 2 weeks and I get booked on a show, I’ll book another show at the same exact time.”

Did she say 17 jobs?

How do you time-manage everything? It seems really overwhelming to be working two jobs, films, tv-shows at once. Where do you find balance? Does the industry even allow it?

Paige, Christina’s friend, also a Hollywood actress walked in and sat down across from us by the window.

PAIGE: “The energy of the industry finds you and then leaves you and then finds you again.”

CHRISTINA: “As I progress and find more success, it’ll only become more chaotic. For example, as far as other stylists go, there’s stylists that I look up to. I’ll dress one client for the Oscars while they are dressing 7. Those nice ebbs and flows give me time to recharge, reset both mentally and physically. When I’m working on a show or on a film it’s back-to-back projects. I’m getting up at 5AM everyday and still exercise and walk the dog before I go to set. It’s nice to take some time regroup. And take care of myself and allow myself the time to recharge.”

“One of the craziest things is whenever I’m on a roll and that roll stops, I get really anxious because I want to keep working…and then I feel like I need to keep working and constantly need to remind myself, NO, I need to re-charge and settle down and take care of myself and it is OK to do that. It’s okay to not talk to anyone for two days and it is ok to take a nap if I need it or go on a 4 hour hike or book a trip to Bali.” *laughs* (SuperShe, Jen Yih and Christina recently took a 1-week get-away to Bali together.)

JEN YIH: “She texted me while I was sitting in Reykjavik, Iceland KEF airport and said, I want to go somewhere tropical with you, let’s go to Bali. So, I said okay and I booked my ticket from the airport.”

So, on your time off you recharge and reset to focus on your health. But, what does being healthy mean to you?
“Mental health is probably the most important thing for me. Mental health rolls into physical health in a sense of when I’m clear minded and when I’m focused and when I’m concentrating on the things that are important, I feel like it allows me to have energy go work out and be active. I can’t be very active when I’m depressed or overworked or stressed, that’s why I do so much yoga. It’s not just about fitness it’s about finding that sense of inner groundedness. Whenever I feel like I’m on the verge feeling out of whack/sorts and then I go to yoga…I’m like, hh, I’m not depressed – I just needed to go to yoga and reset.”

“My favorite thing is to take my dog Homer on walks, and Soul Cycle.”

You live in Los Angeles, beauty is such a major part of the gig out here? How would you define beauty?
“The most beautiful people in LA are the ones that don’t care and don’t give in to the hype and don’t give into the stereotypical constrict that Los Angeles tends to place on people. I’m an avid, no-make up person but I still get facials and a cute haircut – and I do those things for me. I spend a lot of time trying to embody what I thought beauty was. …why I never cut my hair short or why I always wore more tight fitting clothing…I felt like I had to be ‘sexy’ as opposed to being beautiful…and I realized I didn’t need to do that, the people I surround myself with – friends, peers, clients – they don’t care.”

What’s your favorite thing about West Hollywood in particular? Or Los Angeles?
“I really love West Hollywood because it’s central logistically. The job I do, I’m never in the same place. Even if I’m on a film set I’m not on the same place. It’s nice to be able to have access to every part of L.A. and not be stuck.”

Tips from a Hollywood Stylist:
“Many of my hacks, I really can’t say because some of them are probably not the most legal. *laughs* I think a lot of people, when it comes to shopping or buying clothes, don’t go out of their comfort zone, and I’m going to say 99% of my clients…one of the comments they make is ‘I would have never picked this for myself.’ So, go out of your comfort zone, get something you wouldn’t necessarily think you could pull off.”

Interested in learning more about Christina’s on-the-go life and style, catch her if you can at @christinamariestyles or www.cmbcreative.co