The 705 Spotlight: Deborah Ash, Women’s Custom Made

Women’s Custom Made member Deborah Ash has been sewing since childhood so costuming was a natural outlet for her skills. She has began her career working in theater, eventually moving into photo shoots and commercials before signing on for some of the most well-known TV shows and films in recent memory.

Her most memorable experience: seeing a jacket she made for Jane Lynch featured prominently in the posters for the film.

She loves: being part of a creative team.

Her advice for aspiring costumers: educate yourself and be persistent.

What do you do as a costume professional?

As a costume professional in the Women’s Custom Made division, I do fittings on the actors, taking direction from the Costume Designer. Then I do whatever alterations are deemed appropriate. I also, on occasion, make costumes from scratch, utilizing the actor’s measurements, and the designer’s desired result.

What are some of the shows and movies you’ve worked on?  

Some of the films and television shows I’ve worked on include Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, America’s Next Top Model, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, American Horror Story, Getting On, Blunt Talk, Swingtown, Dexter, Mad Men, Deadwood, Weeds, Las Vegas, Star Trek Enterprise, The Conjuring 2, X Men, Intolerable Cruelty, and Catch Me if You Can.  I also worked for a number of years on Payless and Gymboree commercials, as well as photo shoots.

How or why did you get into costuming?

I’ve been sewing since I was four years old, initially making clothes for my dolls and then for myself. While going to school, I worked in theater costume shops and then got a job at Muto-Little.

I’ve been sewing all my life and when I was old enough, took technical classes at several colleges while working at leather shops doing alterations. Then I started working in the costume shops of some major theaters, i.e. The Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego and the Center Theater Group in LA.

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 had made a teal-colored, leather jacket worn by Jane Lynch in For Your Consideration. Later, I was reading the LA Times when the movie had just opened in theaters and saw there was a full-page ad for the film with an ensemble photo of the cast. My immediate thought was, “wouldn’t it be so cool if Jane is wearing that jacket?” and she was! All the posters for the film used that same photo so, for a while, I saw it everywhere, including billboards.

What do you love most about your job? 

I love being part of a creative team and having the opportunity to work on fabulous vintage, as well as contemporary (often designer) clothes.

Do you have any advice for someone starting out who wants to be a costumer? 

My advice is to continuously educate yourself and be persistent in contacting union-affiliated costume houses and departments.