Behind the design for 'The Belle's Stratagem' costumes with Tracy Oleinick

Behind the design for 'The Belle's Stratagem' costumes with Tracy Oleinick

With “The Belle's Stratagem” opening in less than a week, costume designer, Tracy Oleinick, spoke to the elaborate costume pieces, for the show, that were built by faculty, staff, and students.


Arriving to Auburn in the mid-1990s, Oleinick has designed costumes for Auburn University Theatre for the last 23 years. She attended Webster College in St. Louis, completed her undergrad at the University of Iowa, and attained her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts. By 27, she was employed at the City College of New York where she created a costume program and began making costumes for off-off Broadway and dance performances, as well as performances at CCNY. A veteran in her craft, Oleinick has designed costumes for many Auburn productions but some of her favorites include a “A Raisin in the Sun”, “Playhouse Creatures”, “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, and “Into the Woods”. Currently, Oleinick is pursuing her PhD in American History.


When designing costumes for “The Belle’s Stratagem”, Oleinick’s process began by pulling inspiration from attire worn circa 1780.


“Finding costumes shapes that would work with student actors, but still be true to the form was the most difficult part of the process,” said Oleinick. She wanted to make sure the costumes would be something that students could make and learn from, while still keeping the integrity of the period. Oleinick also garnered inspiration from a dissertation written by Aileen Ribeiro on the era. She revered Ribeiro as “one of the best costume historians ever,” and smiled. Her researched revealed what people wore, where they got their attire, what masquerades looked like, and what occasions certain outfits are used for in the late 1700s.


The director, Chase Bringardner, specifically gave Oleinick the freedom to use loud colors for the garments to parallel the over-the-top nature of the show. Her favorite costume in the show will be worn by Falan Buie-Madden as Mrs. Ogle. The character’s day dress features diagonally striped green fabric, which Oleinick said was a challenge to find but matched her vision exactly.


Something the audience might not otherwise know about the costumes in “The Belle’s Stratagem” is the detail in the undergarments. The women are all corseted due to the way the dresses need to be held up from underneath. Undergarments like these were crucial in the 1780s, so the cast not only rehearsed their lines, but also rehearsed in corsets and long skirts.


“The Belle’s Stratagem” opens November 7th at the Telfair Peet Theatre Mainstage. Be sure to secure your tickets today to see these extravagant and colorful costumes for yourself - 


Last Updated: November 01, 2019