Intimate Apparel

Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage
Directed by Kelly Lynn Hogan
Costume Design: Margo Shively and Allison Smith Hahn
Photos by Craig Choma

The central motif for Intimate Apparel was seamstress Esther’s crazy-quilt, which would have been made out of the elegant scraps of her lingerie work. While Esther herself dresses humbly, we see the vibrancy of her spirit reflected in her beautiful creations dressing the other characters around her.

The playwright, Lynn Nottage, frames moments in the play as tableaus with headings underneath, such as: “Unidentified Negro Couple, Ca. 1900”. To evoke the feeling of lost memories the set was created out of warm, saturated neutral tones—like an antique sepia-tone photograph—with the costumes bringing these “photographs” to life with their color.

Main character, Esther, posing with her 3 shadows

Unique to this production we chose to emphasize the difference of the George of Esther’s letters and the real George, as well as the multiple facets of Ether’s desires by including 4 additional members to the cast. These were Esther’s “shadows”: dancers who represent the three major facets of her identity: her Strength, her Desire to be a Mother, and her creative Artist-self.

I also constructed Esther’s wedding corset out of embroidered satin, using Simplicity pattern 7215. It is fully boned with 30 pieces of steel boning, trimmed in satin ribbon and antique lace.

Esther's wedding corset on a dressform