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Angela Trivino gives life to characters through costume design

Angela Trivino

Angela Trivino was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, before going abroad to explore her career. She always knew she would be a costume designer, there was never a question of it growing up, but travelling around the world gave her a sense of aesthetic reference far beyond what any book or website could give her, and she brings that understanding to each project she works on. She is an artist, and her extensive knowledge and natural talent make her an exceptional one.

Trivino’s Colombian heritage is important to her and her design. Even when she is not trying, the colors and textures of the Caribbean show up in her work. As a child, she was surrounded by yards of fabric, and that upbringing has allowed her to truly understand the existing connections between the clothes we wear, the society that surrounds us, and the way we present ourselves to it. When Trivino speaks of what she does, there is a passion that is only found in those that truly love what they do.

“The awareness of the infinite connections between our looks and our inner and outer world makes me a designer with a very accentuated attention to detail. I know that even the smallest accessory is far more than just decorative. There is a reason why the character decided to wear it; there is a way of wearing it particular to them, that element, as all the other garments are pieces of the characters’ deepest self,” she said. “As a costume designer, I help with giving life to the characters in a story through the vehicle of clothing as the expression of their humanity, their culture, and their history.”

All those that work with Trivino are deeply impressed not just with her passion, but her knowledge of her profession. There is no challenge too large for her to overcome on a set, and her designs speak to what the characters are feeling, truly giving them life. YuanYuan Chen, the director and writer of the film The Gift, where she worked with Trivino, says that Trivino’s work is vital to the success of not only her film, but all the costume designer works on.

“From the conception of the script we knew we had a beautiful piece of work, however it was our main challenge to translate the script into beautiful, and powerful images. The actors didn’t have a lot of lines, so the construction of their characters relied in the strength of their performance, and in the power of their costumes to tell their story. Angela did wonderful work in defining whom these characters were through brilliantly simple, yet powerful accents in their costumes. Working with Angela is working with an artistic collaborator. Her broad knowledge on dramaturgy, and her very well cultivated sense of aesthetics allow her to create beautiful cinematographic frames full of metaphors for the story. For Angela, costume design transcends a mere craft. She views costume design as an art that deals with the deepest emotional and psychological layers of humanity. As a director, when you have a collaborator that you completely trust because she sits with you for hours to discuss the dimension of a character, even those sides of his story that we are not able to see on camera, then you know you have a good film in your hands,” said Chen.

As a costume designer, Trivino aims to get something out of every project she embarks on. Whether it be to share an important message, to learn something new, or to just have fun, she enters with an open mind. When working on the film The Fog, it was her determination to help tell an impactful story.

“I was mesmerized by the story, and I really wanted to be part of the process of finding the right visual language to convey this drama that is such a big part of our society,” said Trivino. “I liked to be intellectually challenged, and I like even more to have a process that allows me to create from a strong emotional concept.”

The Fog tells the story of a young combat veteran who attends acting classes, which become an unexpected struggle as he deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Trivino’s role as the costume designer started with multiple meetings with the director and writer of the film to discuss the complexity of the main character. After extensive research, including interviews with war veterans, she presented the first design proposal through sketches and look books to the director and producers. After its approval, as well as the approval for the rest of the characters’ designs, she took charge of the pre-production endeavors of her department with the help of an assistant costume designer. This included fittings with all the actors including extras, as well as pulling, shopping, building, and altering pieces, as well as managing budgets and doing character breakdowns. While filming, she was on set to give final approval on the looks and assisted with any last-minute costume changes.

“The greatest inspiration for this project was the beautiful story of the characters. My most significant research was to discover the complexity of the emotional struggle of veterans going through PTSD. When you dig through the layers of such a solid concept, the costumes, the palette and the textures that convey those emotions flow pretty naturally. For Danny, the main character, I designed a look with layers in his clothing to convey the way he protected himself, as well as different layers of his struggle,” described Trivino.

The film went on to be an enormous successful at many prestigious international film festivals. It was an Official Selection at Hollyshorts Film Festival 2015, Ojai Film Festival 2015, Columbus International Film and Video Festival 2016, Reel independent Film Festival 2016, and Knoxville Film Festival 2016. It was a semi-finalist at the 43rd Annual Student Academy Awards, and won Best Screenwriting USC First Look Film Festival 2016. None of this could have been possible without Trivino’s vision for costume design.

“It was a beautiful experience to work so close to a story that touches your soul. As a costume designer, it was also very intellectually challenging and interesting to explore a physiological condition through costumes,” she concluded.

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