Scope and arrangement
The Sally Ann Parsons Designs consist entirely of costume bibles produced by Parsons-Meares Ltd., a costume construction company specializing in costumes for stage, film, dance and opera. Materials date from 1980, the year that the company was established, to 2001. The collection contains photocopies of designers’ sketches; patterns and costume construction notes, including some oversized materials; swatches and samples of other supplies used; photographs from fittings as well as close-up images illustrating costume details; and measurements. It also contains working records such as cast lists, contact lists, supplies order forms, a small amount of correspondence, cost estimates, worksheets and shipping lists.
A large number of the costume bibles found in this collection are for Broadway productions, including several award-winning shows such as Cats, Sophisticated Ladies, Starlight Express,Grease, and The Will Rogers Follies. Dance productions are also amply represented, especially for the Joffrey Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. Other production types for which Parsons-Meares Ltd. worked include opera, film, several productions on ice and for Disney theme parks, and a few shows for singers, magicians and other performers. The company collaborated with many of the leading costume designers in the field, including Eiko Ishioka, Jane Greenwood, William Ivey Long, Willa Kim, Frank Krenz, Carrie Robbins, and Patricia Zipprodt.
The costume bibles are generally well organized, dated and labeled. Bible sizes range from one to over one hundred folders, depending on the number of costumes executed for a production. Many of these smaller commissions were for special types of costumes, such as padded, robot-like, or heavily elaborate costumes. At the very least, most bibles contain photocopies of costume sketches; swatches that are often attached on sheets with notes on cost, supplier, and quantity; and notes on the use of the materials, which may include fabrics, beads, feathers, metal parts, foam pieces, buttons and other three-dimensional samples.
This collection does not contain any other records pertaining to the operations of Parsons-Mears Ltd. Although during the 1970s and 1980s Sally Ann Parsons was herself an established costume designer, materials for the productions that she designed for prior to the establishment of Parsons-Meares Ltd. are not part of the present collection.
The Sally Ann Parsons designs are arranged in two series:
- 1980 - 200166.5 linear feet (131 boxes)
This series contains photocopies of designers’ sketches; patterns and costume construction notes; swatches that are generally attached on sheets with notes on cost, supplier, and quantity; notes on the use of the materials, which may include fabrics, beads, feathers, metal parts, foam pieces, buttons and other three-dimensional samples; photographs from fittings as well as close-up images illustrating costume details; and measurements. It also contains working records such as cast lists, contact lists, supplies order forms, a small amount of correspondence, cost estimates, worksheets and shipping lists.
Unless otherwise indicated, costumes are primarily arranged according to show characters. Parsons-Meares staff names given to different costumes made for the same character have been maintained. Costumes are, therefore, further identified by descriptive titles, such as “Jellyfish scarf”; by act or scene number for which they are used, such as “Picnic scene”; or by actor’s name. On the occasions where no other identifier is mentioned, costumes are distinguished by their sketch number. Whenever available, sketch number lists can be found in the Costume Notes folder of their respective production.
- 1981 - 20001 linear foot (1 box)
This series contains oversized materials from Arms and the Man, 1999-2000; El Bravo, 1981; Chaplin, 1983; Legs Diamond, 1988; and Shogun, The Musical, 1990. These productions are also represented in the Production Series.