Shawna Trpcic (pronounced terp-sick) is a Hollywood Costume Designer for movies and television. She’s worked on many films, including Galaxy Quest, The Core, and Toys. She is perhaps best known for her work with Joss Whedon, designing costumes for Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Dollhouse and his upcoming feature film The Cabin in the Woods.
Shawna was kind enough to answer some questions, as well as share a few extremely rare photos of herself wearing costumes in the 1980’s!
I decided not to ask the typical questions like “What got you into costume design?” because Shawna explains this in great detail on her website. For a wonderful read, check out her Bio on ishawna.com. She does a great job describing her background, education and experiences that made her an industry leader in professional costume design.
Here is the full interview conducted June 30, 2009:
What advice do you have for beginning costume designers?
To beginner costumers I say stay humble, be willing to sweep the floors and get coffee – I started at the very bottom and was willing to help out anywhere the film needed me – still am.
What would you consider to be your dream project?
My dream project – well just about anything with Joss – and a super hero or futuristic film with no boundaries, where I have to design everything.
If you could give any superhero a new costume, what would you do?
I would love to redo any superhero. My dream job is a superhero movie – no boundaries, just my imagination.
Have you ever considered starting your own fashion line?
I took fashion in school and worked for a fashion designer – creating my own line is too much a 9-5 job – not me – too steady and predictable. I guess I do not have that discipline.
You’ve recently wrapped up work on The Cabin in the Woods. Is there anything you can say about the costumes work you did for that movie?
Cabin in the Woods – crickets chirping. I can’t say a word. Picture a cabin – hear the crickets chirping – that’s all I got for ya. 😉
Have you by chance done any preliminary sketch work for Goners, perhaps something for development purposes that we can peek at?
I haven’t seen anything from Goners – I know nothing of the story.
And you’ve started back up with Dollhouse? What can you tell us about the costume work you’ve done on the show?
I just started back on Dollhouse yesterday have not even seen an outline of a script But past stories – we custom made the sword fighting costumes. I drew a picture on a napkin and ran it to Joss – he approved it and my amazing seamstress built it – we also made a few of Dr. Saunder’s things a few of Adelle’s and the last dress of Mille. I ran whole bolts of fabric into Tim Minear’s office where Joss, Elizabeth and Sarah were all talking – I had to get approval right away, we were running out of time to custom make it! The first three did not fly, but I ran in one other and they loved it – I ran a lot. 🙂
When creating Sci Fi entertainment – At what point does a costume become special effects? Is there a difference? Have CGI and computer effects changed your job/field? Have you ever designed costumes for video game characters or comics?
Sci entertainment and CGI – and Make up effects and costumes – we all work very closely together – the medium has not really changed what I do, because I still do costumes – with CGI crazy things just go on all around them. I have to avoid green and blue sometimes. I have never designed a video or comic character from scratch, I have only really worked in the mediums of film and television.
What’s your take on the growing Steampunk trend? Have you ever designed steampunk costumes before?
Just gotta say I LOVE steampunk – you will see some influence on a character or two in my upcoming work.
Editor’s Note: Shawna also recently mentioned steampunk on Twitter:
totally made a fool of my self, I showed Joss a pic of steampunk folks and said excitedly have you EVER seen this it is so cool – uh yeah…
Sounds like Joss Whedon is well aware of steampunk. Here’s hoping we’ll see some steampunk in Dr. Horrible 2!
How often do you, yourself, wear costumes?
I did a lot as a teen and early twenties. I’d say I wear a costume everyday in that I design what I wear. I have fun everyday I get dressed – I LOVE thrift stores and finding vintage pieces to mix and match. I love dressing my kids up – they wear a costume almost everyday – from modern day looks to authentic east Indian costumes, cowboy, superheroes, pirates – there is no limit.
Here is a wedding photo me and my brides maids – any opportunity to dress in costume 🙂 This is also the wedding dress I later cut up for Inara ball gown in Firefly.
Wow, what a gorgeous photo! So beautiful – and I totally recognize Inara’s dress from Firefly.
Here are a few stills and a short video clip from the Firefly episode “Shindig” showing Inara’s dress in action. I added the audio commentary so you can listen to Shawna (along with Jane Espensen and Morena Baccarin) talk about her wedding dress.
And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…. AWESOME photos of Shawna Trpcic wearing costumes in the 1980’s!!! She looks so amazing!
Shawna Trpcic the Warrior Woman (cat is dressed as a baby)
Shawna Trpcic at the 1984 Olympics
Shawna Trpcic as a Country Music Star
Wow, what a smoking hot photo! She looks like one of Charlie’s Angels.
These photos are just so cool!
THANK YOU, Shawna Trpcic for taking time out of your busy day to talk to MyDisguises, and for sharing your incredible pictures! Good luck with the second season of Dollhouse, and all your future costume projects.
You are a truly talented and amazing artist – and SUPER NICE person.