Dressing for the Big Screen: Where Atlanta Sources Its Wardrobes
An important part of any film is the costume design, and as Atlanta continues to grow into its title as the ‘Hollywood of the South,’ more and more new productions are in need of clothing for their characters. On set, it’s the costume designer and the wardrobe department that dress the actors, and they source their pieces from local rental shops for film and television productions.
Caroline Dieter, co-owner of Southeast Costume Company (SCC), has been working in the industry for more than a decade as a costume designer for independent films, commercials, and photography. When she’s not dressing for specific productions, Dieter is hard at work behind the scenes at SCC, a wardrobe supply company, alongside a team of skilled and highly trained experts. Together, the company provides costuming for many of Atlanta’s film and tv productions.
“As a small business owner I wear many hats,” explained Dieter, whose responsibilities vary and include roles like like operations supervision and inventory management. One gets a sense from Dieter that it’s more than just the business side of her work that appeals to her, but also the satisfaction she gets from assisting creatives as they work toward bringing their stories to life on the screen. “We've often heard clients say ‘you have really saved us,’ which is really what our job is,” she said.
It’s a big job to maintain a fully operational costume supply shop. As the quantity of productions increases, the demand follows suit, and even record keeping alone for the thousands of items in the shop can become consuming. But ultimately, it’s Dieter’s love of the film community in Atlanta that makes her feel so satisfied in her work. “Connecting our Georgia film community helps build a strong infrastructure for the film industry here,” she said, noting that it’s nice to play a role in supporting the industry professionals who often have very high stress and demanding jobs.
“One of my favorite things that happens often is when costume designers who haven't seen each other in years cross paths literally in our aisles, and embrace with delight! Providing a space for these reunions is certainly fun to witness,” Dieter said.
Meanwhile, across town in the funky nook that is Little Five Points, Angie McLean runs Psycho Sisters, a costume and clothing consignment boutique. The funky and rather unassuming shop sits between a record shop and clothing retailers, its storefront positively bursting with clothing and costumes. Mannequins in costume flank the front door, and upon entering one is faced with two floors of clothing racks, all packed full to the brim with clothing.
“Psycho Sisters was founded by my sheer determination to rebel from a corporate life and instead maintain a free lifestyle,” explained McLean. Prior to opening the shop back in 1991, she was busy with travel to 60 countries, becoming a mother and dabbling in real estate. When she announced her plans to start the company, she was faced with nearly everyone in her life afraid that she would fail. “Apparently I like to learn on my own, even if it's the hard way for the glory is knowing I beat the odds and succeeded,” she said. Her advice? Don’t listen to the haters.
McLean cites the continued success of Psycho Sisters as being due to the hard work, dedication, and devotion of her team, and can even appreciate those who have cast doubt on her abilities, saying that “it forced me try harder.” Born with a love for all things fashion, from the design to the construction, the styling to the storytelling, McLean holds a great appreciation to what she calls “the fashion culture.”
Psycho Sisters contains pieces from all over the world on their racks, with vintage articles that span throughout the years and provide a one of a kind shopping experience. As such, it has provided an invaluable resource to many local film and tv productions, and the fact that the shop is open to the public means that they can provide costuming for small budgets, special events, and even just to find that cool leather jacket that reminds you of your teenage love for characters like the Fonz.
“One day when I'm older, I will look back with a big smile and know what a big- or small, but treasured- difference Psycho Sisters has made in making people's lives that much more fun,” mused McLean.
“Not bad,” she said. “Not bad at all.”
You can find out more information about these costume suppliers below, so consider these two Atlanta mainstays the next time you are seeking costumes for a new project.
Southeast Costume Company - www.southeastcostume.com / 2333 Defoor Hills Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 / (678) 973-2632
Psycho Sisters - www.psychosisters.com / 428 Moreland Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 / (404) 523-0100