Jennifer Bryan has been working in TV and Film for over 20 years, beginning as a wardrobe assistant and supervisor on films such as Manhunter, Married to the Mob, Goodfellas and Jungle Fever. She then moved on to costume designer, working on films such as Barbershop II and TV shows, including Dark Angel, Las Vegas, Knight Rider, and currently, Vampire Diaries.
Jennifer was kind enough to do a Q&A with The Pursuitist, talking about her background and the role of the costume designer on a Hollywood set.
Q. Tell us about yourself.
J.B. I am currently the head costume designer for “Vampire Diaries” on the CW. I studied fashion design at Pratt Institute, and a few years after I stumbled into the entertainment side of fashion and began working on Broadway shows, commercials and TV shows. When I was younger I never really gave much thought into working with celebrities. I just thought they had an unending closet!
Q. Describe the role of the costume designer on a TV show or film.
J.B. After the scripts are written, I have to study them and dissect them for wardrobe changes and stunts that need to be taken into consideration when designing costumes. Next I begin finding the clothes I need for that episode. I’ll go wherever I need to get the right things, from malls to thrift stores, to the big costume rental houses in Los Angeles. In addition I have a lot of meetings with the creative departments in order to ensure that everything looks seamless and collaborative when the show airs.
Q. Where do you draw your inspiration as a designer?
J.B. My inspiration as a designer comes from the ideas behind the writers vision. I’ll do research for thematic episodes, and I pay attention to what young people are wearing. I love to people watch. Sometimes I see outfits on the street and I think to myself, “How did she figure to put that together?”
Q. Who are some of your favorite designers?
J.B. Two of my favorite designers are Alexander Wang and Vivienne Westwood. They both push the envelope and take street fashion to a design level. I love Vivienne Westwood’s unexpected construction and Alexander Wang’s mastery in draping modern knits.
Q. How did you become a costume designer?
J.B. After graduating from college I was working as a buyer for a major department store on Seventh Ave. A friend told me about an internship on a movie that was filming in the city. I was intrigued. They hired me as the wardrobe department intern. My friends thought I was crazy to leave a secure job to work as an intern for next to nothing. But I had to take a gamble and it paid off. I was never one for sitting behind a desk all day and staring at numbers on a computer anyway. I really worked my way up from the bottom, polishing a pile of shoes, to doing mountains of laundry for Broadway shows, you name it, I did it!
Q. If someone is interested in getting into the industry, what advice would you offer?
J.B. If you get an opportunity to intern or assist it could be a good way to enter styling or design. It is important to be open to learning and be patient. The world will conspire to get it for you, if you want it bad enough.
Q. What are some your favorite designs that we can see the TV shows and films you’ve worked on?
J.B. I have designed for different types of TV shows, movies and Commercials. I had fashion fun on “Las Vegas,” hip hop fun on “Barbershop 2” and futuristic fun on “Dark Angel.” Now I am having vampire fun on “Vampire Diaries”!
Q. What are your future plans – in Hollywood and outside of Hollywood?
J.B. For now, “Vampire Diaries” keeps me very busy! I’m working on developing a line of sexy sandals and accessories that I hope to launch next year. It looks like I will come full circle and have my line on Seventh Ave again!
Below are some exclusive photos showcasing Jennifer’s work on CW’s Vampire Diaries.
Photos courtesy and copyright of Warner Bros. Television Entertainment.