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Introducing ESosa - Project Runway alum and Tony Nominated Costume Designer of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Posted by:  Kimmel Center on February 12, 2014

Introducing ESosa - Project Runway alum and Tony Nominated Costume Designer of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Check out what he had to say about working on this amazing production:

For The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, set in Charleston, South Carolina, during the 1930s, it was very important to be true to the fabrics and techniques used by its inhabitants. My design process starts with research. I will spend the first two or three weeks finding images of the particular time in which the show is set. Working closely with our director, Diane Paulus, most of our early conversations and meetings were centered on period photos, research books and the individual roles the actors will be playing.

Once I feel comfortable with the style and look of the time period, I start to design. I do all my sketches by hand, while a great deal is done during brain storming meetings with Diane. For this production, I designed perhaps 150 different designs for characters ranging from Bess to Sporting Life. As I finalize the designs, my team sources fabrics and trims to be used. Once I assign fabrics to the sketches I present my concepts to the director. Careful attention must be placed on the sets and lights, which will affect the final look of the production. 

To bring a sketch to life takes many costume shops, tailors, wig makers, milliners, and cobblers. My design assistants are responsible for making sure I have as many options as needed to insure the accuracy of the period, yet ensuring the actors comfort, always taking into account these costumes will be worn 8 times a week. Special attention is placed on the internal construction to assure the look will be consistent for every performance, as a lot of garments are laundered daily.

When all is done correctly, the costumes will enhance an actor’s performance, while transporting the audience to a new experience.

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess opens at the Academy of Music Tuesday, February 18 and through Sunday, February 23. For tickets and info visit

Image and text courtesy of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess National Tour Study Guide, available in full here.

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