The Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts’s rendition of Schiller’s Mary Stuart was brought to life by an entirely non-male cast, despite most of the characters being male. This required creative choices in costume design to properly tell this vision of the story.

Senior Juliet Wolfe starred as Queen Elizabeth I. Photos by Maria Arias / North by Northwestern

“The idea was to keep the 16th century silhouette as a base and to further play with shapes and textures,”said Drina Krlić, a second-year MFA design candidate who designed the costumes for the play.

Prior to moving to the U.S., Krlić graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, where she says she had a chance to approach period pieces in an experimental and conceptual way.

“It was important to us to keep the expression of the woman placed into a man's costume," Krlić said.  "That task was not that hard for me, since when we look at the men's clothing from the time period, we see that it was pretty elegant, with exaggerated shoulders and with emphasis on the waist and legs. They also wore a lot of jewelry and nice fabrics.”

She went on to detail the process of designing the costumes. It began with meeting with the director and the other designers, where they established the world that they wanted to explore. Once that was decided, the next step was research, then sketching.

“Sir Amias Paulet's costume was the most inspiring one for me, but also very challenging to imagine how it would look like. It’s a woman [actress] who guards another woman, so the idea of blending the armor and the corset seemed interesting, and a deeper visual exploration of what was important for us to achieve,” Krlić said.

Krlić also tried to tell stories through the costumes of both Elizabeth and Mary.

"Elizabeth had the right to only one crown and she was called the bastard since birth, so she always had to fight for her position and had to build her political character very carefully," Krlić said. "She used her clothing to cement power and excite the adoration of her people. Throughout the show we see the journey of her costume to the final degradation of that order that she felt."

"Mary Stuart had the right to three crowns. Her costume shows the journey that goes in an opposite direction. Interestingly, we changed the order of how her journey is usually designed, which is from black to white to red for the execution. We decided to do black to red and then white. She also takes the red dress off on stage, taking control and advantage of her situation."