As the costume designer for “Switched at Birth,” Julia Schklair-Schultz has the rare opportunity to work on a show that brings attention to the hearing-impaired community.
“The script does a very noble job,” she tells Zap2it. “It doesn’t happen that often that you get to work on a project that reaches an audience that doesn’t happen to be in the forefront.”
Schklair-Schultz says her biggest challenge is the short time frame between when an actor is cast and he or she appears on-screen.
“Sometimes they will call [the actor] in the afternoon, and they work the next morning. I’m calling the person for sizes and getting enough choices to be viewed, and all of that has to get to alterations and back before 7 a.m. I don’t think a lot of people realize as costume designers and crew what we do and the little amount of time we have to do that in. For every one outfit on-screen there were at least three outfits rejected.”
ABC Family has a dress code for each show that varies depending on what it would like to portray. Schklair-Schultz does her best to please everyone, including actresses Vanessa Marano and Katie Leclerc, who play Bay Kennish and Daphne Vasquez.
Schklair-Schultz shops a lot at department stores, including Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, that have studio service. She also shops at boutique stores such as Opening Ceremony for some pieces and hits the mall for basics.
“I don’t design fashion,” she says, “I design people depending on who the character is and how I want the audience to feel. … It’s how you put it together to make your show look different from everyone else.”
Here are some examples of how she does it with Daphne and Bay:
“This is a deep, deep brown shantung taffeta AllSaints dress and an Anthropologie belt. I get a lot of vintage jewelry from a woman named Joan Goldman. The cuff is one of my exquisite pieces. It’s leather with an old rhinestone buckle. That is a vintage silver and rhinestone triangle necklace. Her shoes are plain black patent. You hardly ever see shoes, so comfortable and stylish is the best place to go with shoes. Vanessa has the greatest curves for a young woman, and it’s really fun to dress her.”
“I’m not sure of the designer here; we went through a lot of dresses. We found this one at the last minute, and it’s peach and silk and rhinestones and feathers. The hardest thing with Katie is she actually is 26, and she plays 16. We have to find a dress that is youthful when she is such a stunning woman. That is a corsage. I don’t do as many vintage classic pieces on her because it brings her age up. We go for sporty styles, and J Crew has a lot of interesting pieces that look like that old bakeware or crystally things that are really fun. Her shoes are sparkly sequin BCBG that we got at Nordstrom and they are silver and pink.”