Since he began his designer career more than 20 years ago, Salvador Perez gets excited every morning about jazzing up costumes for the characters of whatever the story he is telling at the time.
The Emmy-nominated costume designer of Hulu’s "The Mindy Project" and the feature movie “Pitch Perfect 2,” among others, Perez is also the first Latino president of the Costume Designers Guild (CDG), which held its awards show Tuesday night.
Just how he got to be the head of the powerful union founded in 1953 doesn’t go unnoticed. The media loves him. His licensed name “Salvador Perez Collection” sells out on Gilt.com and his business savvy and dedication and love for the craft of costume design is evident to everyone around him.
With over 17,000 Instagram followers, he knows the value of his brand resonates with the younger generations that watch their shows on small screens and mobile devices, pay per view and On Demand.
He says he appreciates the artistry and craft that goes into his work, yet has never forgotten where he came from. For him, being a Latino is a blessing that has provided him the Latino work ethic that allowed his success.
“I am fluent in both languages English and Spanish and I know that if a show needs 1,000 or perfectly period military suits, I can get them all done with my team of professional seamstresses,” he said. “I believe if you are passionate the right people notice, the work pays off and people are willing to work with you again.”
Recently Perez sat down with Fox News Latino in his L.A. headquarters.
FNL: When did you get your first professional film/or television costume job?
SP: I worked my way up the ladder, never expecting to be the costume designer right away, I just wanted to do good work that people liked. And Deborah Lynn Scott, the costume designer of Titanic, asked me to head up her work room (costume sewing room) in Mexico in charge of making hundreds of military suits and period costumes – they were paying over $600 a suit in London but I got each one made for $150 because I could speak to the workers and would go around Mexico to select fabric and trims. (…) So I didn’t have the typical path that most designers have. Most must start off as an apprentice, than a PA, then a seamstress then a costumer. See, I had always been told - you have to work your way up from seamstress to assistant designer then get your first bunch of low budgets as an assistant. But that was not what happened. I was given a once in a lifetime chance and I took it.
FNL: What advice do you give anyone interested in being a costume designer?
SP: You have to always be prepared. I believe as the president of the CDG it’s my job to help educate others to be the best prepared for themselves and to make ready to change when our field of costume design goes through shifts. If you have to learn CGI or animation to get the job, then you have to take classes. I want to make sure that the costume designers of the next generation are not delusional when they join the union. And, yes, you have to know how to draw and shop fabrics and design, but you have to have a skill that can generate an income.
FNL: Was it hard winning over the union to be the president of the CDG Local 892?
SP: They were looking for change and I, being a member that also wanted change, decided to run. But it was not easy … I happened to be running against the president and an Academy Award winning Costume Designer Mark Bridges … and I won! By a small margin, but I won. I believe that with this title, it is my job to make sure we are not left out of the deals in new platforms and negotiating new contracts.
Mildred Brignoni is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
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