Inside Cinderella’s Wardrobe

January 29, 2016

Since it was last performed in Cincinnati in 2010, Cinderella has undergone a magical transformation of its own, including a total costume refurbishment! Wardrobe Mistress Diana Vandergriff-Adams and her team were tasked with restoring more than 119 costumes to their original splendor after years of wear and tear from performances, constant alterations and storage. This is no small feat considering the costumes must honor the original vision of the designer, and much of the materials used in the originals are no longer available. We sat down with Vandergriff-Adams to find out how she went about dusting off the Cinderella costumes and getting them stage-ready!

How do you ensure the costume is true to the original design?

A lot of times, I can’t get the exact same fabrics anymore so, if they are still in decent shape, I have to carefully lift the trim and fabrics, one piece at a time off the old costume and sew them onto the new costume. Luckily, we have had a very good relationship with the original designer, Peter Farmer. We can consult him on certain aspects like matching fabrics and colors. We understand that the costumes were designed the way they were for a reason, and we are sure to honor his designs. He’s been very great to offer us some freedom to make these updates.

Did you have to create any brand new costumes?

One character was created for Victoria’s version and we borrowed a costume for that character in the past. We created a brand new costume for that character so that we don’t tie up both shows. We also created brand new costumes for the added children’s roles this year.

Do you have to create more than one costume per character?

The Stepsisters are played by men, and they dress on stage three or four times in high heels which they are not used to, so I had to put the old Stepsister costumes back together to be used for rehearsal and for the men to get used to changing in and out of dresses. We do try to build duplicates whenever possible because the costumes have to be let in and let out for each performance to accommodate different sizes. That way there is not as much wear and tear on just one costume. There have also been occasions when we have had to quickly dress somebody to go in for the next act because of a dancer injury.

How long did it take to restore all the costumes?

We started at the end of last season. Laura, my assistant, and I stayed on and worked through this summer to get the costumes built. Then we went back and added trims and jewels and the additional pieces on our down time throughout the season. We try to work ahead as much as possible!

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