Monday, May 6, 2013

Insider Access with 'Scandal' Key Costumer/Costume Buyer: Kristine Haag

Kristine at her desk at "Scandal"

Kristine has what many would call a dream job. She gets paid to shop for the principal cast of "Scandal". That includes hitting the fabulous stores on Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills. We're talking designers that include Max Mara, Armani and Dior!

Kristine is not new to costume design. In addition to "Scandal", she has worked on an impressive list of projects...

True Blood
Mad Men
On the Road
Samantha Who
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Big Love
The Slammin Salmon
So Undercover
Battle Planet

Kristine was kind enough to answer my questions:

Q: How did you get started?
KH: I got started with education. I earned an MFA, in Costume Design, from UC Irvine and a BFA, in Costume Design, from Kent State University. After that, I worked at one of the best costume rental houses in LA that rents vintage clothing, United American Costume Co. While working there, I met Janie Bryant and my first job was on "Mad Men". Work really took off after that.

"Olivia Pope's" closet at "Scandal"

Kristine's desk at "Scandal"

Q: How involved are the actors in what they wear? Does the producer or director ever get involved?
KH: I think the actors are very involved with what they wear. It's important for them to feel confident and comfortable, and most of all, like the character. It is really different on every show. Some producers require approval on every costume and some just trust the designer and let them do their job. It's very different from project to project.

Another view of "Olivia's" closet

Q: You also attend the designer shows. Do you establish a list of what you're looking for, or are the shows more of a source of inspiration?
KH: I have attended some shows here in LA for fashion week. It's nothing like the real shows in New York. I like to go to just be in touch with local designers and see what is happening in my area. You never know what you will find or what you will need next. I suppose it's mostly for inspiration.

Q: What's your typical day like during season vs. off-season?
KH: A typical day while we are shooting is 12 hours minimum. I usually try to get into the office at 8:00, but with LA traffic it's more like 8:15. I check my emails and go over my list. Then I have a meeting with the designer (Lyn Paolo) and talk about what we need for the upcoming fittings.

Kristine shopping at Jet Rag for "True Blood"
After that, I place any on-line orders or make any PR requests so there is time for them to get them in the mail for overnight delivery. Thank God for Fed Ex!

I try to get out into the world by 11:00. The afternoon is spent shopping or "pulling" as we like to say, and don't forget driving in LA traffic. I try to be back to the office by 7:00 so I have time to unload and unpack all the pieces.

Next, I organize everything for the next day's fittings. Then I have to organize all of my receipts and paperwork. After that, I check emails and update my list for the next day. I try not to stay past 8:30 but sometimes stay till 9:00 or 9:30.

Off season is a glorious time for me. When I first started, I was always so scared of time off. I have learned to cherish my time off. I try to rest, exercise, eat healthy and be inspired by museum exhibits and live music. This is also the time I travel and visit with family and friends as production schedules are killer.

Q: How do you keep everything organized? Do you use a database, photos, separate closets for each character, or a combination?
KH: There are many ways the costume department organizes all the pieces and clothes.
There is a continuity book that keeps photos and detailed notes for all the costumes worn on camera. Every costume is tagged and kept together in the closet. Each character has a separate closet full of things previously worn and pieces the actor and designer have kept for future costumes.

Q: The "Scandal" characters are very different from the ones at "True Blood". Is the process for sourcing items for "Scandal" different? If yes, how?
KH: I would say the process of sourcing the items is similar; it's just [the vendors] where I go to find the pieces are different.

A camouflage pull from "True Blood"
When I worked on "True Blood" we really sourced from a wide range of vendors. I could be in Goodwill, the Army Navy Surplus, Downtown LA and Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue all in the same day.
"Scandal" is really upscale, high-end designer pieces so I have spent a lot of time in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive.

Q: Do you also work with the actors/studio on looks for the Emmys and show publicity?
KH: Usually the actors have personal stylists that work with them for red carpet and publicity events.

Q: Do you also work with PR to get them shots of the actors in their product(s).
KH: It really depends on the show; each production company has different rules.
HBO policy is they do not provide any photos of actors in the product. ABC had a still photographer on set to take pictures for PR purposes. It is really different from show to show.

Q: How do you decompress and unwind?
KH: When it's warm, I love to sit by the amazing pool at my building. Usually I'm just so exhausted that I just need to rest. Spending time with my fiancé and our puppy is the best part of my day.

Kristine in the "True Blood" Costume Shop