|He does it all!
Patrick Antosh, Costume Designer for Queer As Folk, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his work on the show, and field some of the questions that we thought would interest other fans like ourselves. His answers were surprisingly candid, as well as humorous, and we want to thank him for his generosity.
Please note: This interview was conducted in November, 2001. For a more recent interview, click here.
How did your job on QAF come about, and how has your job changed since you began working on the show? Do you find there is a big difference between last season and this one in terms of the way you go about your work? Has the wardrobe budget increased accordingly with the popularity of the show? I would imagine that last year you would have been seeking out the big fashion trends for the 'boys of Babylon' while this year, you may very well be setting the trends yourself!
Patrick: I have been working in Film Wardrobe for about 7 years now. I got my first break on the Keanu Reeves Film "Johnny Mnemonic." The Costume Designer took me under her wing and really taught me a lot of the ropes in a very short time.
Patrick: I know luck has played a lot in how quickly I have advanced in my business, but I think hard work has kept me here. I was in Paris for an extended trip, checking out the fashion shows when I heard about Queer as Folk starting up in Toronto. I came back and was lucky enough to get the job. It is a designers dream, particularly in television, it is hard to find a show that allows so much creative expression. The success of the show has given us a second season, and although budgets increase so do costs, so the real changes for me are the number of companies like French Connection UK and Body Body, etc. that are willing to provide clothes in turn for exposure on the show.
Patrick: "If you notice, Brian wears that little Conch Shell bracelet thing. [Ed.: It's actually a Cowry shell bracelet]. I never thought anything of it for the whole year... the first day we started shooting again, all the extras showed up, and there was like seven guys that had them, so obviously you can buy them anywhere, and it must be directed from the show. I didn't do that on purpose." [from an earlier interview with Michel Chantelois of SoGayTV]
SoGayTV hosts model their Body Body Wear on the
U8TV.com float in Toronto's Pride Parade 2001
As Costume Designer what exactly is the scope of your work? Do you design many of the clothes yourself, or do you buy them and tailor them? Do you work closely with the hair and makeup teams to put together a 'look' for each character? Also, do any of the actors wear their own clothes or accessories from time to time?
Patrick: This is one of the few shows that do allow a costume designer to design from scratch. Of course I buy a lot of the clothes and sometimes shop with the actors. When Gale [Harold, who plays Brian] and I go we spend more time talking and eating Sushi, Michelle Clunie [Melanie] and I are both shopaholics so we can waste a whole day looking at stuff that would never be used on the show, I really have to watch my self with her!!
Patrick: My biggest compliment is when cast go out and buy the same clothes for themselves, that I have purchased for their characters. Thea Gill [Lindsay] is always ecstatic about her clothes and calls to thank me all the time. I have a personal assistant Lisa Renee Reed and a full time cutter/seamstress Meredith Wilson. I design a lot of original clothing and as a team we all make it happen. Lisa knows where to get me any fabrics or details necessary and Meredith is one of the best tailors I know, making some of my craziest ideas become a reality.
Lisa on the ladder and Meredith by her mannequins:
Lisa Renee Reed Meredith Wilson
What is a typical day like for you, and how do you divide your time between shopping, designing, fittings, etc.? Are you often at the set through the long hours of taping, or do you work behind the scenes most of the time?
Patrick: My days are very diverse. If there is a particularly complicated wardrobe issue in a scene I will go to set to watch what is going on, but usually I leave those details in the capable hands of my set crew, Shannon and Karen who monitor ever detail of continuity and last minute changes. The majority of my time is spent in meetings discussing conceptual issues with directors and producers, designing and decision making, and basically overseeing my whole department which can expand up to 8 or 9 people on some days.
Who has the 'final say' in what each character wears?
Patrick: The final say is definitely a collaboration of the actor, writers producers and director. I'll admit that I am known for being quite opinionated, so the final decision is usually pretty close to my original concept.
How does the ever-changing and often unpredictable weather in Toronto affect your costume choices? Do the characters have a selection of outdoor wear, for those external shoots where coats, hats, mitts, boots, etc. are required? Has anyone ever resorted to long underwear?
Patrick: Although we have diverse weather conditions here, it is pretty predictable and we're prepared for anything. Each cast has they're own set of warm ups, including thermal underwear, (but none of it is for sale !!!)
People often talk about music being like another character on a show; to me, the wardrobe has a similar role. How much influence do you have as a designer over the 'personality' that the clothes bring to the show? For example, Brian wears a lot of dark colours, which can suggest he has a more 'severe' personality, while Michael wears what I call the "Charlie Brown" shirts -- lots of primary colours, etc. -- which can make him seem younger or less 'sophisticated.' Does the writing dictate how the characters should dress, and do you collaborate with the writers and producers to create this effect?
Patrick: You have a very keen eye, your descriptions are pretty close to the idea I have for the personality of each character. When I started the show I put together a whole portfolio of each character sketches and swatches but also character ideas and personality traits, This is in collaboration with the writing/producing team, so we make sure we develop the characters solidly.
Who comes up with the sayings for Debbie's t-shirts? They're fantastic! And baby Gus' hats? Adorable! Was it difficult dressing a baby for the show, especially one who kept changing all the time?
Patrick: I take great pride in coming up with the majority of sayings on Debbie's shirts. You will be able to download them on the Showtime website in the near future. We've given some of the original t-shirts to raise funds for charities.
Patrick: Lisa gets to take most of the credit for Gus. She really enjoys shopping for him. I have his knit hats and sweaters made by a good friend of mine in Elora Ontario, Marlene Pascow who owns The Yarn Bird.
Return to the Costume Design page for more on Patrick and Queer as Folk, including Gale Harold's fashion sensibility and the 'Gay Chic.'