Costume Designer

Deborah Cantor

Deborah Cantor - Costume Designer/Wardrobe Stylist

As a costume designer, Deborah has had countless opportunities to originate inspirational looks and visions in multiple mediums. Her career started with acquiring a fashion and textiles degree at Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), where she produced a final collection that was showcased at Graduate Fashion Week, in front of professionals within the fashion industry. As a result received high profile press coverage of her work. Deborah then moved into the high-end print fashion world working for British Vogue, Harpers and Queen (London) and Harpers Bazaar (New York), to name a just few. Her main focus is now on-screen wardrobe currently working with all the major UK television channels such as BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky.

Deborah’s costume career started at the BBC Costume Department cataloguing and indexing stock from various productions for over a year. This experience was a crash course in history and time periods. The fabric, texture, makeup of a garment, measure and colour code enabled her to date the outfits. This practical experience was invaluable. "There is nothing like having a garment in your hand and instantly knowing its history and understanding how it fits on a body."

Deborah then became a Costumier. She created different departments by the style of uniform, and genre of the show. “This became my beautiful, colorful office! Costume Designers/stylists would come to me with a brief and I would help create a look for the programme, commercial, pop video, or film, all in a timely (excuse the pun) fashion.” Having worked on everything; from police dramas to game shows where having knowledge of everything from safe numbers for police uniforms or army rankings for national and international sectors, to 50’s costumes for Hairspray, or Victorian costume for Jane Eyre, was imperative. The intricate details must be correct or the look is ruined and the production is compromised. High profile fashion designers often came in to the department for inspiration and direction on the following seasons trends. Costume really does influence the fashion industry. “I was privileged to be a part of this wave. I was BBC trained in every area of the art of costume. From learning how to dress a period costume drama cast, to measuring garments, to accessorising, working for the BBC has been invaluable. I learned so much during my six years tenure. It is British television at its best, producing high end, world renowned, great drama and entertainment.”

The experience and contacts afforded Deborah the opportunity to turn freelance as an Assistant Costume Designer. Learning how to manage a budget, work with different personalities, costume designers and makers. It was here, where she mastered ‘set etiquette’. Learning the skill of fitting artists, dressing, shopping, lining up, breaking down costume, script breakdown, location filming, and studio filming. “Seeing something you created on screen makes it more than worthwhile. While freelancing gave me freedom, it also built my confidence. It challenged me to work harder in an ever-evolving world.”

Deborah Cantor

Deborah has worked with many incredible talents as a Costume Designer/Stylist including Model Jodie Kidd, Pop Star Rachel Stevens, Actress Alison Steadman, Actor Chris O’Dowd, Composer Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Singer Dame Shirley Bassey, Sports Star jamie Redknapp, Actor John Barrowman, Presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan to name a few. Her work is varied from the world of Fashion and Costume, she has designed and created some extremely prestigious programmes including Bafta nominated The Big Narstie Show (Channel 4). The Lateish Show (Channel 4) and Big Fat Quiz (Channel 4), Mission Survive with Bear Grylls (ITV), Richard and Judy (Channel 4), The Edge (BBC) , Redknapps Weekend Warmup (Pilot/Sky). As an Assistant Costume Designer Deborah was a crucial part of a costume team to receive an RTS (Royal Television Society) award for Strictly Dance Fever. Deborah was second designer for shows including Cirque De Celebrite (Sky) Gladiators (Sky), Royal Variety (BBC/ITV), Any Dream Will Do (BBC), How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria (BBC) and Strictly Dance Fever (BBC) to select a few. In her fashion print days Deborah assisted Fashion Editors with shoots starring Actress Sigorney Weaver, Actress Meg Ryan and Actor Aaron Eckhart all photographed by the extraordinary Patrick Demarchelier as a small example.

Having the privilege of working on a variety of different programmes for all the UK networks as a Costume Designer every day is varied, depending on the brief-working in many different areas from TV and film to commercials/print and theatre. Thriving in the Entertainment side of the industry and enjoying the challenge of speed and creativity.

A costume designer tells a visual story and it has to be immediately recognisable when creating a character. Open communication with the producer, director and artist is needed. One must interpret the look, which can sometimes combine different genres and bring it to life. Deborah relies heavily on her experience and instinct. “You have to take the viewer on a believable journey.”

The industry is ever changing and evolving and you move with the change to stay current and relevant. Always taking inspiration from anything around her. Deborah attends Fashion season both S/S and A/W and has done for 25 years. “It always excites me to create a look or vision for TV or print. Each day is different, meeting new people and working with other creatives, each department plays an important part in creating the look.”

“Sharing my creations and visuals with the masses is a distinct honour. This is an industry that gives people an ideal and dream, something we aspire too, as well as a way to share that vision and prove that anyone can dress in something similar to their favourite celebrity, model, singer. We tell a visual story that brings magic to the screen or page of the magazine.”

“It is a privilege to work in a creative field that gives us the opportunity to express ourselves. As a Costume Designer/Stylist we show the world our thoughts and processes through glossy pages and both the small and the big screens. Working with teams of brilliant photographers, directors, makeup teams, actors, models, set designers etc. We all come together to invent and evolve beauty.”

“It is my proud responsibility to put something visually identifiable on screen in front of millions of viewers. Often, we make history with iconic characters or bring to life a forgotten period of time. We, in this area of the industry, make a strong statement with our art. It is a very important medium to visually represent an ideal for viewers/readers/consumers. This is my extraordinary life as a Costume Designer.”

Find out a bit more about Deborah via a interview she did for a book recently published “Larger than Vogue, the business of being a Fashion Stylist” by Anna Katsansis

IMDb Check out Deborah's profile on IMDb

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