Bob Iannaccone has worked in costuming for forty years, cutting his teeth and honing his skills on legendary film and TV productions. He enjoyed stints as a Set Costumer, Background Key, and Costume Supervisor on a wide range of projects.
His biggest creative challenge: convincing an actor who hated polyester to try out the perfect (polyester) suit.
He loves: the ability to tell a story through costuming.
His advice for aspiring costumers: be enthusiastic and open to learning new things.
What do you do as a costume professional and how long have you been doing it?
During my forty years as a costumer I worked in most all aspects of our craft, except live TV and pornos! Starting as a stock clerk at a costume house to supervising large scale features, my job has taken me around the world with many fond memories making up for the long hours and hard work. I wouldn’t have had a different career and would do it all over again.
What are some of the shows and movies you’ve worked on?
Among my credits and jobs were:
- Set Costumer on Quincy M.E. and Fame for TV and on the features Stripes and Raging Bull.
- Costume Supervisor on the miniseries Fatal Vision and Sinatra.
- Costume Supervisor on The Newton Boys, End of Watch, Lost in Yonkers, and Hard to Kill.
- Background Key on J. Edgar, Changeling, and Revolutionary Road.
Tell us the most creative or original thing you’ve ever done to pull something together on short notice to build or procure a costume. Think McGyver!
Mine is a bit different. I had an actor who wouldn’t wear polyester. I found the perfect suit: the designer loved it. At the fitting, the actor asked what the fabric was. I told him Italian Gabardine. He liked it so much he purchased it after the shoot remarking, “Those Italians really know how to make fabric”!
What is your most memorable experience working in the business? It could be something really meaningful where you saw how your work made a difference, or maybe it’s the craziest thing that ever happened on set or behind the scenes (costume-related).
I’ve had many: my first screen credit and working with some truly great actors, directors, and crews. On period projects, [it was] seeing it all on set and realizing you were part of the creation of movie magic.
What do you love most about your job?
The people I’ve met and places I’ve been. The ability to tell story through costume. It was never boring; each job is its own world.
How or why did you get into costuming?
I had always had an interest in what people wore. I had worked in a menswear shop and understood differences in style. I have a degree in History, which attracted me to period projects. The grand style of the golden age of Hollywood always appealed to me.
How did you educate yourself or get enough experience to get into the union?
I’ve been movie crazy since birth and always noticed what was worn. The bad ones can be as informative as the period-correct ones.
I was fortunate enough to work at the old Western Costume Co. in Hollywood. My interest in history only added to my knowledge. I’ve read many books about the subject and I especially recommend Esquire’s Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men’s Fashions, which I have read at least twice. Before I start a project, I review my research and any more I can find.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out who wants to be a costumer?
Never think you know it all. Keep you eyes open to learn ways to do and not to do things.
Always be enthusiastic about your work. Don’t complain too much or talk badly about other crew members. If the show is horrible, remember it will end and you will never have to do it again.