Student costume designer prepares for production

Fabric is plastered all over the walls of Room 122 in the Creative Arts building, alive and vibrant. Rachel Herscher is seen scurrying around the room, picking up clothes and accessories from fabric tables and dressing up the actors in potential costumes for this year’s theater production of “Hair.”
Herscher is a fourth year SF State student, pursuing a degree in theater with an emphasis in tech and costume design. She was cast as the lead costume designer for “Hair,” a musical that is set to premiere at SF State on April 26.
As an adolescent, Herscher always gravitated towards costume design and fashion, but her love for films brought her closer to curating her craft in designing costume pieces for plays.

Rachel Herscher, costume designer for the upcoming theatre production Hair, goes over a list of the various outfits needed for the play on Tuesday April 10, 2018. (Niko LaBarbera/Golden Gate Xpress)

“I’ve always been obsessed with movies, that was always my thing. I always wanted to do something with movies. When I got here, the film department wanted you to be behind of the camera and I didn’t want that. I got into theater to do acting and costumes, so I do both,” Herscher said as her eyes lit up.
Herscher has been preparing the costumes for “Hair” since the beginning of last semester.
Her duties as a costume designer consists of curating outfits for each actor and making sure the design correlates well with the theme of the play. In this case, “Hair” is set in the 1960s and has a hippie theme towards the production.
Nick Christman, a theater major, weighed in on the importance of Herscher’s role in the production process saying, “The reason why it is so important for us, the cast of “Hair,” to have a costume designer is we would not know our own character if she didn’t give us her baseline of ‘this is how they dress.’”
Herscher’s main focus on the costumes was layering and incorporating the many events that took place during the ‘60s. She said, “The time was super tumultuous, a lot of things were going on. The 1960s, you got the Vietnam War, the rebellion, all [this] stuff. So we wanted to show that in the clothes.”
Herscher’s creative mind hasn’t always been a help.

Rachel Herscher, costume designer for the upcoming theatre production Hair, examines an article of clothing during the costume fitting on Tuesday April 10, 2018. (Niko LaBarbera/Golden Gate Xpress)

With “Hair” taking place in the 60s, a decade Herscher is not a particular fan of, she still managed to put her all into the designing of each costume.
“I hate rainbows and tie dye and worn out clothing and classic hippie stuff like that but the era is super interesting, and the costumes in this show are sort of elevated above what they actually wore in 1969, so I like them,” she said.
Nikki Desouza, a theater major, expressed her concerns as assistant costume designer saying, ”I think the most difficult thing we had to face is making sure we didn’t go too far into commercialized look of the 1960s.”
Desouza added, ”We want it to feel real.”
As Herscher was putting away clothing pieces from the show back up on hangers and going through old costumes from past productions in the costume shop, she can’t help but reminisce on her busy years in SF State’s theater department.
“I’m happy with my time here but I’m ready to move on to better things,” said Herscher

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