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Remembering Martin Pakledinaz, 1953-2012

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  Diane Bondareff for The New York Times.Costume designer Martin Pakledinaz in his New York office in 2005 with costume bibles he donated this year to New York Public Library for Performing Arts. Photo Credit: Diane Bondareff for The New York Times.

 

Costumes have to tell you in a moment what that person is feeling, what they’re going through, what changes are happening.”
                                                                   

                                                                                      —Martin Pakledinaz

 

“Have a fantastic Gala Opening” well-wish note made from a collage of clippings by Martin Pakledinaz for the cast and crew of The Pajama Game (2006). Billy Rose Theatre Division.“Have a fantastic Gala Opening” well-wish note made from a collage of clippings by Martin Pakledinaz for the cast and crew of The Pajama Game (2006). Billy Rose Theatre Division.

Martin Pakledinaz was one of the most distinguished costume designers on Broadway, and was known for creating costumes that brilliantly conveyed character and time period. Pakledinaz passed away on July 8, 2012, shortly after receiving his tenth Tony Award nomination for Best Costume Design for his costumes in Nice Work If You Can Get It, starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara.

In April 2012, Martin Pakledinaz gave a generous gift to the New York Public Library for Performing Arts — an extraordinary collection of his personal costume bibles and production files documenting his designs for plays, musicals and operas produced in New York City over the last thirty years. The collection is now housed with the significant work of other great designers such as Patricia Zipprodt, Boris Aronson and Bonnie Cashin in The Billy Rose Theatre Division within LPA. In honor of his important contribution to the Library for Performing Arts, this blog series will highlight some of the extraordinary work found in the Martin Pakledinaz Costume Designs Collection. 

Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002).  Martin Pakledinaz costume design for Harriet Harris as Mrs. Meers in the “They Don't Know” musical sequence. Billy Rose Theatre Division.Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002). Martin Pakledinaz costume design for Harriet Harris as Mrs. Meers in the “They Don't Know” musical sequence. Billy Rose Theatre Division.

A detail-oriented and thoughtful designer, “Marty,” as he was known to friends and colleagues on Broadway, was very involved with the creation of hiscostumed characters. Throughout his design process, Pakledinaz edited and improved his costumes. He took inspiration from changes in scene and setting and the personality of characters as written in the production script. When designing period costume for The Pirate Queen, Pakledinaz described the design process as “a continual learning curve to make each design different from each other and yet relate.” He conducted extensive research for his notable period costumes, gleaning inspiration from paintings and historical documentation to inform his garment patterns and inspire his use of fabrics, colors, textures and embroidery.

His costume bibles are composed of meticulously organized design materials neatly sorted into 3-ring binders for each musical, play or opera. Some productions are documented with a series of up to ten costume bibles filled with color reproductions of his costume sketches, his notes on production manuscripts, original color photos of actors in costume fittings, textile swatches and detailed information on costume material sourcing.

The collection also includes several boxes of production files which are filled with correspondence, photographs, notes, programs and other ephemera produced during the course of Pakledinaz’s design process.

Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002).  Martin Pakledinaz costume design for Sutton Foster as Millie in the “Gimme Gimme” musical sequence.  Billy Rose Theatre Division.Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002). Martin Pakledinaz costume design for Sutton Foster as Millie in the “Gimme Gimme” musical sequence. Billy Rose Theatre Division.

Currently on display in the Reading Room at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts are several costumebibles and notable designs from the Martin Pakledinaz Costume Designs Collection. These include the designer’sTony Award-winning work for Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2002, and Kiss Me, Kate in 1999, as well as his designs for the opera Alcina (2003), and the Noel Coward comedy, Blithe Spirit (2009), starring Angela Lansbury.

We welcome you to visit our memorial display for this extraordinary designer, and please stay tuned to this blog series for more on the inspirational designs of Martin Pakledinaz.

 

Coming next week:

Costumes by Martin Pakledinaz for The Pajama Game (2008) starring Harry Connick Jr. and Kelli O'Hara.

 

 

For contact info and to learn more about the Billy Rose Theatre Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, please visit our website.

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