Like most graduates Stephanie Maslansky didn’t know what to do with her Italian literature and South American history degree. Now she’s the creative force dressing Netflix hits Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders.
That’s What I’ll Do
Descended from doctors, academics and lawyers she embarked on a year travelling in Italy to find herself after leaving the University of Wisconsin – stuck with the creative problem of having plenty of interests and little motivation to commit to just one path.
That was until she went back to Minneapolis to visit her family. “One evening I was walking past a shop in downtown that sold high end women’s clothing and in the window there was a display of period costumes from the Guthrie Theatre,” she told Cultured Vultures in an interview.
“I looked at them and thought, ‘I could do that – oh my god, that’s what I’ll do.’ I was relieved and happy, and concerned because I was 24 and was just figuring out what I’m going to do. It’s funny because I would highly advise people to learn about themselves before jumping into something. If they can afford to, or work a little and travel a little, those years are precious before you have to settle down and do adult things.”
Rat and Roach-Infested
Now every costume designer knows the industry isn’t something you can get into with just a flash of inspiration. An academic degree might impress most employers but says nothing about visual or physical skills. At 24 Maslanski began a long and tedious climb to dress the stars.
She did an internship at the very Guthrie Theatre whose historical costumes had inspired her and then moved to a “rat- and roach-infested” loft with two friends in New York after the season. “I used to walk down the halls of the Guthrie just practically pinching myself,” she has said previously. “I couldn’t believe my great good luck to have landed there.”
“I started from the bottom and decided against going to New York University for costume design. I decided to work and work my way through the field. I took drawing and painting classes, and took theatrical design classes. I continued my education on my own, and I wanted to work and needed to work.”
It’s a Bummer
Work she did – in theatre, for commercials and finally her first films in her early 30s. After a stint doing adverts in Los Angeles she said “I fell into TV when I got back to NYC and sort of stayed there. I really like TV and I enjoy doing it and I’m very confident and comfortable in it. It’s hard work, but I really enjoy it!”
Nevertheless while TV may sound like more regular work than individual films the reality is less simple. “I struggled for years and was a part of TV shows that didn’t do well,” she said. “It’s a bummer because you work really hard and it’s presented on national TV and people don’t like it and it gets cancelled and you have to start over.”
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