Stage, television and motion picture costumer and fashion designer Noelle Raffy is the next speaker for the popular Idyllwild Community Center Speaker Series. She will discuss and illustrate “Costume Design From Creation Concept to Screen and Stage.”
“I grew up as a backstage baby,” said Raffy. Both parents danced professionally — her father, Patrick Frantz, with the Paris Opera Ballet and her mother, Patty Davis Raffy, with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet.
Starting at age 6 or 7, Raffy designed and stage-managed mini-productions. “I had this treasure trove of costume pieces from my grandmother that I would wear,” said Raffy. “I would tell my parents, ‘You can come backstage. I’ll be in costume and you can ask for autographs.’ My poor younger brother would have to play parts I assigned — from a bride to a circus performer. I think that is where designing began for me.”
She said she knew at age 9 she would design professionally. “When I realized you could dress people professionally, that was my calling,” she said. Raffy attended the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles where she was mentored by television designer Bob Mackie and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in fashion design. She received a Master of Fine Arts in costume design from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Although she began her career in fashion design, she moved to costume design because she found it less restrictive. “Fashion design was too commercially driven,” she remembered. “With costume design, I could be any place, in any historical time period. For me, that was more creative.”
Raffy said her parents, as professional artists, supported her career choices from the beginning. And in her field, designing for stage, screen and television, she said she has had solid work from the beginning.
Raffy also teaches full-time, as assistant professor of costume design at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. “I teach costume design, costume construction, hair and makeup and advanced makeup, with more special effects,” she said. “Our department is small and very cohesive with time to mentor students in all aspects of theatre. Our students learn how important it is to have teamwork and collaboration.”
For her presentation, Raffy will bring costume “bibles” from a number of shows as well as head pieces, and manikins with full, life-sized costumes people can touch. “I’ll demonstrate how costuming grows from pencil sketches to full-on color renderings and where costuming fits in the sequencing of a production,” she said.
Raffy has designed for major motion pictures, including the Oscar-nominated film, “The Road,” television commercials and productions, including “Game of Thrones,” as well as national and international stage productions.
Raffy’s presentation takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at Silver Pines Lodge. A wine-and-cheese reception precedes her talk and demonstration. Both are free to the public. For more about Raffy’s career, visit www.noelleraffy.com.