Desireé Humphries collided with the world of costume design in middle school. In the musical film “Moulin Rouge!,” the protagonist Satine wears a scarlet red, silk and satin dress in a scene titled the “Elephant Love Medley.” Humphries felt captivated by the Victorian-era inspired gown with its dynamic ribbon-like bustle. She took out her sketchpad and drew it again and again. This obsession began her dreams of becoming a fashion and costume designer, she says.
Today, Humphries is a costume production associate at UT’s Department of Theatre and Dance, and a freelance costume designer. She works closely with students, designers and drapers to schedule fittings and purchase materials. She also supervises stock in the department’s costume shop.
Humphries’ choices of fabrics, garments and style contribute to the art of storytelling and help broaden representation. Through her work in theater for families, Humphries aims to show young girls of color that the characters they admire resemble them. She wants Black girls to realize that they too, can be a princess.
“It’s not just Cinderella. It’s Tiana. It’s Jasmine. … A princess wears a crown, but she can also wear a sari and she can also wear pants,” Humphries says. “Her hair could grow to the sky. It’s not just straight hair. It’s kinky hair. It’s braids.”
Humphries’ academic career took several turns before she arrived in Austin. She began general studies at Austin Community College in 2006 and went on to pursue a degree in fine arts at the University of North Texas in 2008. She landed at Texas State University in the spring of 2013, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater design and technology. Humphries’ non-linear journey allows her to empathize with students as they pursue creative careers.