In this post, I’ll be sharing one of my favourite shoots in a while. Last year, I was hired by Le Grand Costumier to provide visual content, allowing them to showcase their collection and the services they offer on their website.
First, a bit of history for those not familiar with Le Grand Costumier!
For over 60 years, Radio-Canada’s costume department had been providing life and colour to numerous characters on TV and in the theatre world, when Radio-Canada announced the closure of the department in 2014. Suddenly, the future of this massive costume collection became uncertain. Many bemoaned the loss of cultural heritage, and a void was left in the creative community, who had been relying on the costume collection. What followed was essentially a rescue mission led by Culture Montréal and the Corporation de Développement Économique Communautaire Centre-Sud / Plateau Mont-Royal, and the result was the birth of the non-profit organization Le Grand Costumier, whose mission is to continue serving the creative community with their designing and costuming needs, as well as nurturing and expanding the inherited rich collection from Radio-Canada.
I had a blast working with their amazing team in their 5-floor warehouse. For the photoshoot, we had weeks of prep and meetings. I was working closely alongside the Grand Costumier’s general manager Marie Houde as well as one of their brilliant costume designers Danielle Fagen. Most of the prep work was on their end—mannequins were made sure to be camera ready, and many costumes were prepared ahead of time to display the variety of pieces there.
My job was to showcase the breadth of services they offer. We wanted to see the scale of the space, the variety of costumes. We also wanted to show the craft and artistry behind their services—they’re not just a costume rental-service. They’re artists and costume designers that can not only help you develop the visual identity of your characters and provide the costumes for them, they can also create unique pieces for you.
I’ll walk you through a few of the rooms there.
The warehouse. This is where all the costumes are stored. Over 100,000 pieces. Imagine rows of endless costumes, organized in unbelievable detail. For example, there’s a big box for “Yellow / Orange Felt Hats from 1950-1959”. They do this to stay organized, of course, but it’s also for their clients to be able to find something specific and accurate for the characters. You can find anything from a Nouvelle-France soldier outfit to a giant ketchup bottle outfit. There’s a section for fat suits, another one for zombie outfits. I could spend days there being entertained and fascinated all at once. Whenever they receive donations, they also make sure to catalogue their new pieces, and they’ll do research to be able to place the item in the right era.
Then there’s the workshop. Le Grand Costumier has a massive collection for sure, but at times they’ll still need to make new and custom creations. At times, they might also require more copies of an existing costume. And then sometimes it’s just a matter of needing to tailor a costume to an actor or performer. The workshop is where the magic happens.
In the corner of the workshop, there’s the little patina room. This is where costumes will be modified, made to look worn and lived in. This is where your 2-suit can become zombified if necessary.
I had a fun time and enjoyed each of my visits. I’d definitely recommend checking Le Grand Costumier out if you’re interested—they host visits to the public from time to time. You can follow updates on their Facebook and Instagram pages. And if you’re a creator in need of something costume-related, they can likely help you.
Thanks for reading!