Dressing Felicia: Costume Designer Talks Shop



No one is more resourceful than a drag queen. Or the costume designers who dress them. Tim Chappel and Lizzie Gardiner were the Academy Award-winning duo who pooled their resources on a shoestring budget to create the bright, fun, and flashy costumes in the 1994 cult classic, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Twelve years later, the pair came back for the stage version of the show that ran all across their native Australia, London, Toronto, and New York, earning them another armful of awards, including a Tony.

Chappel shares sketches of his work from the show with The Advocate and gives the behind-the-scenes scoop on that flip-flop dress.

The Advocate:Where do you start when you're faced with the process of having to design costumes from scratch?
Tim Chappel: It’s always different because, as a designer, I’m getting a brief from the director or some idea that the actor has, or research into the characters. With Priscilla, we started with the music. I was allowed to just do free association to the songs, and come up with ideas from that point. It was a truly creative experience. I was allowed to abstract ideas. My favorite thing to do is to take elements that people recognize and reform them in abstract ways so that they’re both unique and familiar at the same time.