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Life and Work with Lauren Oppelt

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Oppelt.

Lauren, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m a Costume Designer. I started as an actor, but I’m 6’2″ (mayyybe 6’3″) and so ended up being part of the Costume Dept. at my high school. At UCLA, I majored in Directing, but worked again in the Costume Shop to pay for school. When I graduated, I did some work in writing and directing, but once again found myself costuming more than anything else. In the last few years, costuming has taken over and I am very lucky that I get to make cool and weird things for film and tv.

Has it been a smooth road?
I don’t think any road that leads to production is smooth. My friend Kerry Hennessy has this great mantra “Be Calm, Be Kind” and I often repeat that to myself in the midst of production chaos. It’s important to be kind and competent, but it is equally important to stand up for yourself and your department. Boundaries are vital, especially for female department heads. Sometimes we get steamrolled because our jobs are considered by some to be trivial in comparison to say, lighting or camera. Just because you are doing costumes doesn’t mean that you aren’t important. Hair, makeup, and costumes can often be overlooked by ADs or other folx looking to move the day along, but we create the first impression of a character. Our audience understands who these characters are based on what they look like. When people dress up for Halloween, they are honoring the work of the costumers and hair and makeup artists. That holds gravity. It informs the work of the actors and means something to the to the people who see these characters and identify with them.That is a lot of power and it is often undervalued as an overall contribution to the whole.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’m an artist. I love to build, paint, distress, bedazzle. My personal brand is built on creation. This is not a mall shopped venture. Somebody crafted the things that my characters are wearing and 9 times out of 10, that person is me. A film I designed, Greener Grass just premiered at Sundance, and will also be playing at SXSW. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Costume Department for Brightburn, with my friend Autumn Steed who is a Costume Designer that I frequently collaborate with. I’m really excited for people to see our work on that project. I am also working on a plus size line that will be available on my Instagram for pre-order sometime in mid-February. I am planning on designing one or two pieces every couple of months for pre-order and building to accommodate people’s needs. There are a lot of irons on the fire, some exciting ones that I’m not even allowed to talk about yet! Also my bedazzled eye masks. That’s my zen garden; gems, glue, and a great audiobook.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
I always listen to books and podcasts during my builds. I am currently listening to ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I often listen to David Sedaris when I need some joy in my build, or Neil Gaiman when it’s time to wind down. My favorite podcasts are ‘You’re Wrong About’ and ‘Someone Knows Something’. I can do an unsolved mystery, but any time I get too into true crime, I end up sleeping with all of the lights on.

With regard to other resources, I find social media and other awesome humans to be the best resource that you have. I am really lucky to host Los Angeles Ladies Arm Wrestling (check us out!) and we have an amazing community of people who support each other and charitable causes. I also have a solid group of ride-or-die boss lady friends that have helped me with any number of shenanigans (often hot gluing, so much hot gluing) over the years. The older I get, the more I realize how vital it is to create a community of bad ass women and gender-fluid/non-binary friends to help build the future that I want to live in. There’s lots of glitter there and it’s beautiful.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Alex Jillian

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