The Magic Garment: Principles of Costume Design by Rebecca  Cunningham
445 pages, $71.95 list
eBook availability
The Magic Garment
Principles of Costume Design
Third Edition
Successful costume design requires a solid foundation in general artistic principles and specific knowledge of how to apply those principles. Cunningham presents readers with just such a foundation and develops it to expose beginning costume designers to the myriad skills they need to develop in order to costume successful stage productions. She begins at the most basic conceptual level—reading plays from a costume designer's perspective. She then follows through with the practical considerations that must be considered at every stage of the costuming process—research, development, sketching, and costume construction.

Cunningham has built on the long-standing success of the outstanding first edition with new figures and updates throughout the text, including 24 pages in full color. Examples have been selected from a wide range of stage productions representing a variety of designers, styles, and approaches. Interviews with award-winning designers from stage, film, and other media show the practical importance of the book's concepts. Every chapter incorporates material reflecting the ever-increasing impact of technology, especially computers, on costuming. New to this edition is an ancillary download package (available here), giving students a selection of basic figure drawings to serve as the base layer for digital renderings, ready-made forms and checklists for assembling and organizing costumes for shows, and a list of research and reference websites with easily clickable links.
The Magic Garment continues to be the definitive text on costume design! I appreciate how each chapter balances both the breadth and depth of the many facets of costume design, and the blend of theory and practicality always provides a foundation for rich class discussion. As a professional, there are plenty of dog-eared pages to which I still turn for a quick reference.” — Allison Smith Hahn, Knox College

“The most current and practical how-to guide for students of costume design.” — Mimi Maxmen, Parsons School of Design

“I am using this textbook for my Costume Design I and II classes this coming year. It is excellent, covers all the basics, and has enough information to keep more advanced students engaged.” — Debra Otte, Montclair State University

“I have used Cunningham’s text for a number of years in my design class. I particularly like the latest edition’s additional downloadable templates and resources. The book is well laid out and the interviews with professionals give valuable context.” — Judy Ryerson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“Rebecca Cunningham has updated and revised to keep up with our rapidly advancing industry. It is perhaps the most comprehensive text on the market and the most suitable for my newly named course: Costume and Clothes for Stage and Media.” — Victor Capecce, Millersville University

“I am currently using this text in my class! I have been very happy with it, and the response from my students has been positive, especially as we’ve moved to distance learning and had to lean more heavily on the textbook as a resource.” — Katherine N. Garlick, Youngstown State University

“The book is wonderful. The narrative is right on point, with plenty of examples that make sense and are applicable to the students’ work and experience. Great imagination and artistry! Excellent choice for a costume design course.” — Amy Ressler, California State University, Bakersfield

“Such a fabulous text! I really love the chapter by Holly Cole—wonderful! An excellent resource.” — Andrea Bechert, San Jose State University

“Cunningham has created the most comprehensive text on Costume Design and Technology that addresses the swiftly moving industry. I recommend it with great enthusiasm and joy.” — Gweneth West, University of Virginia

“The Third Edition has new interviews with internationally known designers. These expand on material in the chapters, bringing real world comments and experiences as a way to expand the student’s knowledge/learning experience. The expanded color sections provide touchstones for in-class discussion. Brava!” — Elizabeth Lewandowski, Midwestern State University

“Simple enough for beginning designers to understand with enough substance to be used by more experienced designers as well. Special chapters on film and preparing to be a professional are up to date and a bonus for readers.” — Rusalyn Andrews, Cottey College

“Impressively thorough. I appreciate the addition of two more costume designer interviews, new updated sketches, and more color renderings. I also noted more information on TV series and online sources, plus a discussion of digital vs. paper portfolio, all timely and welcome.” — Marcy Froehlich, University of California, Irvine

“Great updates! I love the comprehensive nature/inclusion of elements and principles. It is a fantastic source for designers, especially beginners trying to figure out how all the pieces work together.” — Erin Dougherty, Catawba College

“I am impressed in every way by the text: the cost to students is low, the writing style is relaxed and accessible, and the color illustrations are vibrant and (more importantly) practical.” — Sarah Bussard, East Texas Baptist University

“Great updates! I love this text and use it every semester.” — Debra Otte, Montclair State University

"I am very impressed with how much information is packed into such a discrete text, and yet without significant sacrifice of clarity. The drawings and supplementary illustrations are quite helpful, as are the appendices. I think the technical sections on fabric and construction are very good, and the photographs of costumes under construction are well executed and really serve the text." — Stephen C. Judd, Alfred University

"This book has the best chapter on the elements of design—better than any other design text I've encountered." — Kristina Tollefson, University of Central Florida
Table of Contents
1. Understanding Stage Costumes
Basic Functions / How Does the Costume Designer Work? / Developing the Costumes

2. Understanding the Play
What Is a Play? / What Kind of Play Is It? Forms of Drama / How Is the Play Structured? Elements of Drama / In What Mode (Style) Is the Play Written? / Reading the Play / Collaboration: Director–Designer Discussions / Developing and Stating a Concept

Interview I: Concept, Research, and Practice: A Conversation with Catherine Zuber

3. Doing Research
Goals: What Are We Searching For? / Sources: Where to Look? / Organization: What to Do with the Research? / Analysis: What Does It Mean? / Developing Personal Research Sources

Interview II: Designing at a Distance: A Conversation with Toni-Leslie James

4. The Designer's Tools: The Elements and Principles of Design
Elements of Design / Principles of Design

Interview III: Bringing Everyday Dress to the Stage: A Conversation with Paul Tazewell

5. Developing the Costume
Developing Character Concepts / Rough Sketches and Collage Boards / Planning Color / Budget / Special Considerations / Inspiration / Director–Designer Conferences

Interview IV: Collaboration: A Conversation with Judith Dolan

6. Rendering the Sketch
Setting Up a Work Area / Drawing the Figure / Basic Watercolor Techniques for the Costume Designer / Painting the Costume Sketches / Working Drawings / Other Techniques / Presentation

Interview V: Designing for Dance: A Conversation with Martin Pakledinaz

7. Choosing Fabrics
Fabric Basics / Fabric Considerations / Sources and Swatching / Adapting Fabric

Interview VI: Designing for Film: A Conversation with William Ivey Long

8. Getting the Show Together
Organizing the Work / Assembling the Costumes / Understanding Costume Construction / Preparing for Performance

Interview VII: How to Design for an Elephant: A Conversation with Gregg Barnes

9. Designing for Film (Holly Cole)
Learning to See Like a Camera / Understanding the Costume Process for Film / Accepting the Film Industry's Priorities

Interview VIII: Putting Yourself into Your Work: A Conversation with Clint Ramos

10. Preparing for a Costume Design Career
The Resume / The Portfolio / Digital Portfolios and Web Sites

Appendix I: Historical Research Sources
Appendix II: Historical Costume Outline
Appendix III: Costume Reference Websites and Online Databases