Salvador Perez is an accomplished and versatile costume designer, working in many genres—from feature film and television movies, to television series, commercials and red-carpet gowns.
SALVADOR PEREZ, COSTUME DESIGNER
Born and raised in Central California, Perez moved to Los Angeles to attend The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), planning on a career in fashion design, but fate had another path for him. An accomplished stitcher, his talents were soon discovered by costume designers who took him away from the fashion industry. He first made costumes, then became a costume manufacturing foreman and assistant designer on films like Titanic, The Flintstones, and Barb Wire. With his vast knowledge of clothing construction and manufacturing, Perez was also sought out by the J. Peterman Company to design and develop their Movie Legends Line. When working on The Mindy Project, he produced a fashion jewelry line with Bauble Bar and a signature coat line with Gilt.com, both ventures sold out. As a costume designer, Perez has taken his experience and applied it to creating characters on projects as diverse as the hit TV series The Mindy Project, where he earned an Emmy nomination for costume design, Castle, Veronica Mars, the Hulu series Four Weddings and a Funeral, Netflix’s Never Have I Ever and feature films like Pitch Perfect 1, 2 & 3, Think Like a Man 1 & 2, Men of Honor, Drumline, Goosebumps 2 and Senior Year.
Perez’s approach is highly detailed and considers every aspect of a character’s personality while telling the story through costume. Knowing how clothes should fit and be made, he has a unique ability to fit and tailor clothes to make actors look their best. He brings his love for his art with him to every fitting, every shopping trip, and every day on set.
Perez’s passion for costume design and the Film and Television Industry was recognized by the members of the Costume Designers Guild, who elected him President of their organization. He is now in his 3rd term. Perez recent projects include a collaboration with Mindy Kaling on HBO Max’s Sex Lives of College Girls and Hocus Pocus 2, from Walt Disney Pictures, currently streaming on Disney+. Salvador is currently designing Dashing Through the Snow, a Christmas release from Disney+.
COMIC WATCH: What inspired you to go into costume design?
Salvador Perez: I Went to FIDM to study fashion design. I thought I would design a fashion line, but as I was trying to make a mark in the fashion business, I was always making a living as a sewer and a costume maker. I met some costume designers and they hired me to build costumes for their movies. I then went on to run costume work rooms on films like Stargate and Titanic. I worked my way up from the workrooms to become an Assistant Costume Designer. One day, one of my fashion clients said, “I am producing a movie, would you like to costume design it?” It was the film Soulfood. Once I got to costume design a movie, it became my focus. Now thirty years later I am a three-term President of the Costume Designers Guild and I got to design Hocus Pocus 2. So, costume design found me, and I can’t imagine my life any other way.
CW: Did you get to meet Bette, Sarah & Kathy? What was it like doing their costumes?
SP: I fell in love with costume design watching Bette’s movies, Beaches, For the Boys, and The Rose, so being able to costume design for her was a dream come true. She loved my work and really trusted me to make her look her best. SJP is a fashion icon—she knows the details of fine clothing, so in our first fitting when she fell in love with her costume and all the details I put into it, I was so proud. The fittings with the three ladies were so much fun.
CW: If you could’ve designed costumes for any movie, what would it have been?
SP: My background is in costume construction, I love building costumes, so fantasy movies are a favorite of mine.
CW: Do you enjoy doing fantasy costumes as opposed to something like period costumes?
SP: When you design a fantasy movie, you get to be more creative. Period movies are really more about research, and reproducing what already existed. I like making my own rules and having fun.
CW: What type of movies would you like to make costumes for in the future?
SP: Besides fantasy movies I also love doing contemporary design. I had so much fun costume designing The Mindy Project, and playing with high fashion. As a former fashion designer, I loved being able to design and custom make contemporary fashion.
CW: What costume project are you most proud of?
SP: Costume designing Hocus Pocus 2 has been the highlight of my career. I got to design period clothes, fantasy clothes and contemporary cloths all in one film. We had so much fun combining the design elements, even in their accessories. Hocus Pocus 2 is fun and modern. We wanted the 17th century witches to be intrigued with modern elements. Even their flying broom sticks are modern upgrades, as Sarah Sanderson flies on a Swiffer WetJet, which many people have in their homes as it has replaced the broom or mop. The cosplayers are going to love this accessory as it’s fun to fly on and you can use it to clean up later.
CW: What costume designer or movie outside of you is your favorite?
SP: I am a huge fan of costume designer Catherine Martin, her work is so inspiring. Moulin Rouge is one of my all-time favorite moves, and of course the amazing Mary Vogt, for designing some of the most iconic costumes ever!
CW: Not a question but I think the costumes in Hocus Pocus 2 were awesome!
SP: Thank you!
For more from Salvador Perez, go to @SalvadorPerezcostumes on Instagram and his homepage, www.SalvadorPerezdesign.com.