The Record is a weekly Life & Arts series by Andrea Macias-Jimenez dedicated to featuring the many people and traditions that make The University of Texas at Austin a distinct place. For our inaugural edition, we talk to Kelly Decker about super strength, fairies and her love for costuming.
The Daily Texan: What inspired you to get into costuming?
Kelly Decker: ‘The Lord of the Rings.” It was the first movie I saw where I actually looked at the costumes and thought, ‘I guess someone has to make them.’ When I saw the appendices and watched them go through the costume shop, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
DT: Why do you think people find wearing costumes so appealing?
Decker: Because it allows us to act outside the bounds of who we are. People tend to have one personality, and their friends and family would think it odd if they suddenly started acting differently, which is a shame, because that’s actually very confining. Pretending to be someone else is a way to experience life in a different way.
DT: Have you worn a costume that brought out a hidden side of you?
Decker: My first fairy costume. I always thought that I was terrible with kids, but I wore the costume, and they loved me! Looking at the world through different eyes can help you see your problems differently. Being a character provides an outside view of yourself and your actions that you normally wouldn’t see.
DT: You have an affinity for superheroes, sci-fi and fiction. How does that influence your work?
Decker: I can’t sew normal clothes. [Laughs] I wish I could, but everything that I make is too odd to wear outside of the house.
DT: If you could have a costuming superpower, what would it be?
Decker: As in to help me costume, or to help other people? If it’s the former, super speed. I could sew a costume that normally takes a week in half the time. If it’s the latter, it’d be super strength. How does super strength relate to costuming, you ask? If you’ve ever ironed a garment for 30 minutes with a gravity feed iron, you’d know why.
DT: Sounds intense! What activity would you compare costuming to?
Decker: Running a marathon is a great analogy. It’s a long, slow process sometimes, and you have to have the stamina for it. Also, if you are making everything for the costume, like a hat, finding the shoes, etc., then it’s sort of like a triathlon.
DT: OK. You have 30 seconds to come up with a concept for the craziest superhero ever. What does it look like?
Decker: Oh man. The craziest superhero costume would probably be something normal. A pair of jeans and a nondescript shirt would be such a departure from what is acceptable that everyone would look at them and think, ‘What’s up with that girl? She’s not a superhero!’ Which would be interesting, because a female superhero choosing practicality over a statement is so different. They’d probably call her Ms. Pragmatic or something.
DT: Do you want to dedicate yourself to designing superhero costumes? Where could you pursue that?
Decker: L.A.! All of these superhero movies are being made, and I have to be a part of that. I am so excited to be entering the industry when my favorite characters are coming to life.
DT: Speaking of the costuming industry, where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Decker: Costuming for movies. Hopefully working with Weta in New Zealand or working on the superhero movies they’re hopefully still making.
DT: Lastly, what is the secret of creating a great costume?
Decker: Passion. It really takes a dedication that can only come from loving what you do.