Cool Careers: Celebrity Costume Designer


Even if you don’t know his name, you’ve most definitely seen his work.  Marco Morante is one of the hottest names circulating amongst Hollywood’s elite.  Morante is the designer behind Katy Perry’s now prolifically famous cupcake bra in her video for California Gurls.  Superstar Nicki Minaj has posed for the cover of Billboard magazine in one of Morante’s creations and even the sexy Shakira has shaken her assets in audaciously, fringed chaps created by the 31-year-old, California designer.  The list goes on – with names such as Fergie, Ke$ha, Britney Spears, and others in his repertoire.   Cotton Candy got a chance to catch up with the innovative entrepreneur and founder of Marco Marco, a Hollywood-based design house which has a specialty in outlandish costumes. As a craftsman who was not a traditionally trained fashion designer, but rather a scenic and costume designer, Morante shares his secrets to turning creativity into a couture brand.

Cotton Candy: So, what are some of the qualities you look for in a potential client?

Marco Morante: I love a client who is excited to try something new, jump out of their norm and play with a new concept.  I love strong women with a solid sense of who they are and what they want.  It makes the whole design process a lot more exciting.

CC: How much creativity and freedom are you given to design when working for a client?

MM: It always varies from client to client.  Some people know EXACTLY what they want, and others only have a notion.  I fill in the blanks, where ever they might be.

CC: What do you use as inspiration for your work?

MM: Whoever I’m dressing is the inspiration and muse for each piece I create. I feed off personality and find it difficult to create something without first knowing a thing or two about the person wearing it.

Katy Perry "California Gurls", 2010

Katy Perry "California Gurls", 2010

CC: We have to know.  Tell us how you came up with the Katy Perry cupcake bra?

MM: Actually, I didn’t [come up with it].  I’m pretty sure Katy did, but it was Johnny Wujeck –her stylist – who came to me with this project.  I was obviously excited because these are the kind of projects where I really get to get my hands dirty, explore and play with new materials.  The response was fantastic. The cupcakes looked good enough to eat.

CC: Do people ever misunderstand you or your work?

MM: I’m sure there are people who misunderstand my work.  The pieces I make are generally specific to a setting.  So anything outside of that can seem bizarre.

CC: You have this great brand, Marco Marco.  Describe your work for us and tell us who you see wearing it.

MM: I guess I’m targeting people who are bored with the idea of clothing and are looking for some way to mix it up and have fun with their look.

CC: Do you ever deal with criticism?

MM: Criticism and negative feedback are a part of any growing business. I don’t take anything too seriously.

Fergie performs at the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, 2009

Fergie performs at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, 2009

CC: Was there ever a time that you felt that you would never make it into the industry?

MM: Growing any business can be stressful, but I just look at each project as an opportunity to grow my skills and not as a make-or-break moment.

CC: What was the point in your career that you felt was a turning point and people received your work?

MM: Really, it’s hard to define anything as my big break, but I’ve had many memorable pieces.

CC: Your absolute fave creation you’ve made?

MM: I designed costumes for a musical entitled Anne Wrecksick that played in Los Angeles and New York. It was written by Scott Algauer and directed by Kristen Hanggi, who also directed Rock of Ages on Broadway.  There were 90-some costumes and almost no budget.   It was a total labor of love and will always be in my top favorite creations.

CC: Share with us.  What should every woman have in her closet?

MM: Every woman should have at least one Victoria’s Secret Miraculous bra, double-sided tape and a full length mirror.  Lift isn’t just about making your chest look larger ladies. It’s also about making your waistline longer.

CC: What should every woman throw out of her closet?

MM: Most women have really awful bras that they refuse to get rid of.  Ladies, please get rid of them! Five great bras will go much farther than a drawer full of crappy ones.

CC: Nice. So what’s your next MAJOR goal in your career?

MM: Keep your eyes out. I’m currently designing a men’s underwear line which will be available next season.

Morante’s work can also be seen in commercials for Got Milk? Vitamin Water, PlayStation, and INTEL.

Cotton Candy Magazine®