by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair


In November, Karla Contreras came to the ARC to help me photograph, assess and pack some costumes that had been on display. Who is Karla and why was she there?

First of all, she is partaking in the internship program at Woodbury University, Burbank, without which she cannot graduate with a BFA in Fashion Design, and Minor in Costume Design. These internships, for which students earn academic credit (but no remuneration) are essential components of the curriculum, affording the student unique experience in real-life situations along with networking potential. Karla graduates in May of 2008, and her creations will be seen at a Gala Fashion Show at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 8th.


I asked Karla a few questions to enlighten us.

LCW: When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?

KC: I knew I wanted to be a costume or fashion designer. There was no sewing machine in the house, but there were pins and thread and tape, so I constructed Barbie clothes from scraps of fabric. Later on I became a big fan of period movies and loved to watch them to study the costumes.

LCW: Why did you decide to do a Costume Design minor?

KC: It was always in the back of my mind, but I was already doing a Fashion Marketing Minor. Then in my senior year, I decided “it was now or never!”

LCW: What do you see yourself doing after you graduate?

KC: Right after I graduate I will try to get some job experience in Costume or Fashion Design. In the long run I would like to be a Costume Designer.

LCW: Why did you decide to do an internship with the costume collection at the Culver City Historical Society?

KC: It sounded very interesting and I wanted to be able to examine the costumes closely. I wanted to see what it is like to help maintain a collection and to meet the people who do that.

LCW: What do you think you can learn from historical costumes?

KC: I can learn techniques and details of construction. Ironically, when I began at Woodury University, I used to think that we were more advanced now in our techniques, but I have found the opposite to be true! There is so much we can learn from the past.

LCE: Why do you think preservation is important?

KC: It’s very important to be able to look back and see what was worn, what fabrics and techniques were used. It helps to learn how to identify time periods, such as whether they have hand-sewing, or used metal zippers instead of plastic.

LCW: What do you personally get out of the Woodbury University internship program?

KC: Experience and a footing of where you want to be. It helps you to decide, not only what you like, but what you don’t like, and what’s right for you. For example, a previous internship experience showed me that I do not want to work in sales. I think it’s very important to see how procedures are done in the real world, and it’s a good experience to know that you are representing a company or an institution. An internship works like a transition to a profession so it’s important to leave a good impression. It is a way to grow beyond “just being a student.” Also, I believe it is good to have well-rounded experience.

LCW: Thank you, Karla.

Karla will be helping me create a detailed inventory of all the costumes maintained at the ARC, complete with photographs and condition reports, as well as insuring that everything is optimally stored archivally, for the future appreciation of Culver City Historical Society members and visitors.

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