‘Every piece can tell a story’: Movie costume designer explains her process

Marcella Cardill has worked on films like "Hidden Figures" and "The Founder."
Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 9:08 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - One thing that may easily be overlooked when watching a movie is just how much effort goes into the wardrobe. There are typically multiple costume changes and, of course, even more actors.

As it turns out, clothes take a lot more effort than you think.

Marcella Cardill, a costume designer, says the magic starts in places like Kali Collection in Norcross.

“They have everything,” Caudill said.

Walking through, the store does seemingly have everything: shoes, socks, jackets, dresses, accessories, shirts, belts and more from every decade dating back to the 1920s.

Caudill said the shop is her playground.

“Every piece can tell a story, and you can create a million different characters,” Caudill said.

Caudill’s job is to find looks for actors — whether they’re security guards, housewives or children in any era.

“So when you say teacher, you see teacher,” Caudill said, holding up a skirt, blouse and vest.

You may wonder how younger costume designers know what was fashionable decades before they were born. Caudill says the trick is to use old yearbooks and old catalogs from stores like Sears to see what the people were wearing and what was being sold in stores. She joked that Kali Collection has a collection seemingly dating back to the beginning of time.

In her career, Caudill has helped style big names like Laura Dern, Pharrell, Aldis Hodge and Charlie Day. She’s also worked with what are possibly some of your favorite movies — including “All Eyes on Me,” “Hidden Figures” and “The Founder.”

Caudill said finding multiple looks for an entire cast takes a full team of people.

“If you see an actor wearing a white T-shirt, at least seven people have touched that T-shirt,” Caudill said.

But Caudill said it’s worth it to watch the actors morph into their character before their eyes in the dressing room.

“[The costume] helps tell the story and become the person they need to be for the script,” Caudill said.