How a “Total Accident” Led This Costume Designer to a Tony-Winning Show

Outside the Theatre   How a “Total Accident” Led This Costume Designer to a Tony-Winning Show
 
Sarah Laux, costume designer for The Humans, opens up about her unexpected career trajectory and process.
Sarah Laux
Sarah Laux Monica Simoes
Sarah Laux
Sarah Laux Monica Simoes

Who: Sarah Laux
Where: Outside HERE Arts Center

How did you get into costume design?
SL: It was a total accident. I was supposed to be a lawyer. I had a crazy breakup when I was in college and auditioned for The Boyfriend musical, even though I wasn’t an actor. I got cast as an old woman. [When I] went to the costume shop for a fitting, I thought, “This is a job?” I had no idea. I had no idea that everything we saw—whether it be [in] commercial, film, TV or theatre—had been curated by someone. I immediately became obsessed. I did a work-study at my college and many years at the Williamstown Theatre Festival; I fell into it. I moved to New York to work on a movie and never left. That was 20 years ago.

Twenty years! What are some of your career highlights?
SL: I’ve had an interesting trajectory. I worked in a costume shop for a long time, I was a crafts person, I was a milliner, I did wardrobe—I’ve done all of the jobs that you can do! I was also an associate for some big Broadway shows, which helped me learn a lot. Most recently—in the last four years—I started designing again. The biggest [highlight] right now would have to be The Humans. That’s still something that is flabbergasting [to me].

How amazing for you to have worked on that show Off-Broadway—helping it come to life—and to see it transfer to the Broadway stage. Tell me a bit about your process.
SL: I like to work really closely with the actors, and my specialty is clothes; I don’t like it to look like a costume unless it’s supposed to be a costume. I call it “curating reality.” I say this all the time: basically, if people don’t notice the clothes, then I’ve done my job correctly. It’s about supporting the text and supporting the action. When audiences go to see The Humans, they don’t think that there’s a costume designer. There’s a feeling that these people just walked out [onstage]. I’m from a blue-collar background, and it was important to me that characters like that are not caricatured in any way.

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