Meet Yao Chen, Costume Designer for Pete the Cat!

When did you decide to become a costume designer?

I started to dream of being a costume designer when I was around ten years old.  I was impressed by the intricate design of films on screen. I started to pick up the pen to draw these images and design the characters in my own imagination and stories.

What kind of education prepared you for this career?

I started to study drawing and painting in my teens. I obtained intense fine art training in high school, then I got to college to study fashion. My passion about the cultural aspect of clothes led me to earn my MA in costume history. Then my passion about story telling brought me to theatre school in USA. Currently, my degree is an MFA in costume design, but that is just my personal path. I believe everybody is different and their route to their dream job may be different too.

What is your favorite part about designing costumes for Pete the Cat?

My favorite part about design costume for Pete the Cat is to “humanize” our animal friends. They are Pete, Toad, and Platypus. In the original book, they are whole in animal shape, while in our production, actors play these roles. I needed to find creative solutions to integrate animal features in the human body.

What are three words you would use to describe this production?

Fun, Positive, and Heart-full


How do you stay groovy and cool like Pete?

Moving to the United States from another continent did teach me to be positive. In my almost past ten year’s journey in the US, I came across a lot of exciting moments but also some challenges for sure. I am kinda ready to embrace anything since it is so different here compared to my home country. I believe as long as you can hold a positive demeanor and collaborative spirit, most challenges can be tackled!

Get your tickets for Pete the Cat and see Yao’s costumes in real life! 

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