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From Theatre Intern to Marvel Costume Designer

When we see amazing designs on TV and Film it’s hard to imagine the person who designed them as anything other than a superstar. The career path towards those ‘bigtime’ jobs can seem elusive and far removed from your own career journey as an aspiring costume designer.

So, it can be super useful to anyone at any stage of their career to get an insight into the life story of someone who seems like they have truly ‘made it’.

Working as a costume designer on hit Marvel shows such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones and The Defenders would be a dream job in anyone’s book. So how did the designer for  Stephanie Maslansky get to the point where she was working on blockbuster series such as this? Stephanie spoke to Cultured Vultures about her career and the path that lead to working for one of the biggest studios on the planet.

Jessica Jones- Credit: Marvel Television/ABC Studios

Stephanie revealed that she didn’t have a clue what job she would do after studying history and literature, however as a child she had always had a love for clothing.

She said:

“I was always kind of a crafty, maker person as I was growing up. I really enjoyed putting things together and building things. Once I discovered a sewing machine and made an A-line skirt in 7th grade, that was it for me – I loved sewing, I loved machines, I loved making things, following patterns and making up my own patterns, I loved fabric.”

Despite her love of clothing, it didn’t occur to Steph that this is the direction her career would go in.

She said:

“I come from a family of academics, doctors, and lawyers and I assumed that’s just what I needed to get into.”

Stephanie Maslansky via

Steph reveals that after her graduation she spent some time traveling in Italy which would later inspire her work.

Her epiphany moment came from the world of theatre.

“One evening I was walking past a shop in downtown that sold high-end women’s clothing and in the window there was a display of period costumes from the Guthrie Theatre. I looked at them and thought, “I could do that – oh my god, that’s what I’ll do.” 

The theatre is then where Stephanie began to cut her teeth.

“I got into designing and got a job as an intern at the Guthrie Theatre for a season and after I was done with that I decided to move to NYC.”

After her internship at the Guthrie Theatre Stephanie decided to work her way up and learn through work, whilst taking classes in theatrical design:

“I started from the bottom and decided against going to NYU for costume design. I decided to work and work my way through the field. I took drawing and painting classes and took theatrical design classes. I continued my education on my own, and I wanted to work and needed to work.”

Luke Cage – Marvel Television/ABC Studios

Summarising her career path she said:

“I started in theater, I wound up designing and styling commercials for several years. I did my first movie in my early 30’s, and was hired to do another movie shortly after that. I moved out to LA and started going more commercials and then moved back to NYC and decided to get serious about movies/television. I fell into TV when I got back to NYC and sort of stayed there. I really like TV and I enjoy doing it and I’m very confident and comfortable in it. It’s hard work, but I really enjoy it!”

Stephanie is proof that you don’t have to go to the fanciest costume school or fashion college to get the job done. Hard work and life-long learning (plus a sprinkle of good luck) can get you to where you want to be.

Stephanie works on some of the most watched shows on Netflix such as Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil. Her choice of leather jacket for the character Jessica Jones has even gone on to influence the fashion world as many designers for TV are now doing.

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