Last week I had the privilege to spend a few minutes with the Tony nominated Project Runway alum, Emilio Sosa. He was in town with the cast and crew of the Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, getting ready for their upcoming run at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater. In addition to Sosa’s Tony nomination for Best Costume Design of a Musical, Porgy and Bess had at least six more Tony nominations, and won Best Revival of a Musical, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.
I’m excited for Porgy & Bess to come to San Francisco, because I listened to the opera as a child. My mom loved it, and would constantly play it on a cassette tape. My siblings and I were probably the only children under the age of 10 running around our neighborhood singing snippets of such an iconic oeuvre of American music. (The opera was first performed in 1935! Before that it was a musical, a play, and a novel.) And of course I was super psyched to chat with Emilio, because I was a huge fan of his work during his time on Project Runway and Project Runway All-Stars. After the jump read his thoughts on the Tony nomination afterglow, what he loves about costume design, and what it was like working with Tim Gunn.
Fashionista Lab: Congratulations on the Tony nomination! I know it was a while ago…
Emilio Sosa: It never gets old to hear. Thank you very much.
FL: Yeah, do the butterflies ever go away from that?
ES: The butterflies never go away, and never get old. but it’s not what I strive for. I strive just to do good, beautiful work, and what comes after that is just a blessing and gravy on top.
FL: You’ve designed costumes for several productions at this point, but none as iconic as Porgy & Bess. How does it feel to work on something that’s so iconic and that’s been known for so long?
ES: It’s hard, but it’s rewarding. because we’re able to put our own stamp on it. it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I studied it in high school. It’s the only musical or opera I ever studied. So to be able to do it at this level, like I said is is once in a lifetime. So while it’s overwhelming because of the history of it, it’s an honor to be the costume designer of record on it. I enjoy it.
FL: What do you find in general the most rewarding part of costume design?
ES: The most rewarding part is the interaction with the actors and the director. because it really is a collaborative art form. it’s one of the last few really collaborative art forms I think we have int he world, where you team with a director, and they have a vision; with they actors – they have their say, and then of course I have my say. So we all get into a room and try to make magic.
FL: What was it like working with Tim Gunn on Project Runway?
ES: When I look back at that, I don’t even remember. It went so fast. But Tim has so much knowledge, and as a historian of fashion I enjoy people who have knowledge to give. So I enjoyed him. We butted heads a couple of times, but that’s what really creative people do. You butt heads but you respect each other at the end of the day.
**ONE MORE THING**
Friday at 1pm PST I will be hosting a live Google Hangout with some of the cast and creative team behind the Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess. Hope you tune in!!
Sketches by Emilio Sosa, photo by Claudine Gossett for Drew Altizer Photography.
*link updated 11/14