The three costumes featured in this monograph signify mythological beings from three different world cultures. Each costume is influenced heavily by the art, geography, sculpture, and fashion of its respective origin. The designs seek to evoke a strong sense of cultural identity and mythological otherworldliness in a respectful appropriation of motifs that is simple yet calculated.
This monograph is a multi-faceted marriage of design, flat patterning, draping, and costume crafting. It is developed to require the implementation of numerous technologies into the creation of three costumes including laser cutting, 3D modeling and printing, and digital fabric creation. The learning of these technologies in conjunction with designing mandated a fluid, ever-adapting process that goes beyond the 'typical' job of a draper/costume artisan.
Paramount to this monograph is the decision to exclusively feature People of Color as fit models for these costumes. Throughout the design and construction processes fit models were included in conversations that encouraged input and insight. As the designer, I knew from the start that these mythologies, these stories, were not mine to create; rather, I had the privilege to attempt to give life to these mythologies that already exist. Including the fit models as design collaborators was critical in giving ownership of these costumes, these stories, to the people to whom they truly belong.
The Nagas are proud and splendid semi-divine beings present in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. They inhabit the Naga-loka, an udnerworld full of treasures and precious gems. They are associated with lakes, rivers, and seas and are quite powerful. Often protectors of temples and of the higher gods, they are equally fell and are dangerous when driven to anger. A Naga may manifest itself as fully serpent, fully human, or a half-serpent and half-human hybrid.
The Mami Wata
Pidgin English: "Mother Water"
Ancient Egyptian "Ma" (truth), "Uati" (ocean water) and "Ouata" (water)
The Mami Wata are ancient African deities whose origins stretch at least as far back as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. These beings are venerated both for their great power and wrathful anger, their beauty and seductiveness, their pride and benevolence, jealousy and generosity. She protects the abused and can grant the gifts of fertility and sexual satisfaction. She may appear entirely human or as a half-human half-fish. Often she is a snake charmer as well, entwining herself in her serpentine friends.
Nian Shou: "Year Beast"
The Nian is a mythic beast whose origin is intimately connected with that of the tradition of the Chinese New Year celebration. According to legend there was once a mighty, fearsome beast that would come down from the deepest forests of the mountains on the eve of the new year and ravage villages. This beast had the body of a bull, the head of a lion or dragon, and killed villagers for sport, ate their livestock, and trampled homes to rubble.
Different stories point to a villager or beggar who discovered how to repel the Nian with loud noises, fire, and the color red. The festivities ushering in the Chinese New Year have ever since included fireworks, dance, and of course, the color red.
William Young entered graduate school having worked professionally as a crafts artisan in numerous regional LORT theatres across the country. He is a third-year MFA candidate in The Pennsylvania State University School of Theatre's graduate program where he studies costume technology. His emphases of study at Penn State include period pattern development, draping, and tailoring. View his full portfolio at