Brandin Vaughn Headshot

Brandin Vaughn Brings Talent to COCA as Costume Designer for MOTheR 

Fashion Designer Brandin Vaughn, once again, brings his talent to COCA with his creative character-building costumes for MOTheR, a new work by Kirven Douthit-Boyd that centers on a family who uses the power of dance to elevate their existence.  

Vaughn, a St. Louis native, grew up in University City. He started creating at Create Space, an incubator for local artists, and once he sold his wear in The Loop, he thought being a clothing designer could be his purpose. While Vaughn thinks of himself as a self-taught seamstress, he studied at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and worked for years as a pattern maker. His interest in fashion began in high school when he began altering clothes from the thrift store into cool kid items that he sold to classmates. 

Vaughn’s designs first appeared on the COCA stage for COCA’s production of wUNDERland. It was his most significant production, consisting of 140 costumes. He also has designed costumes for The Black Rep, The Muny, and Shakespeare in the Park. Vaughn loves how clothes help to create the characters and assist in telling the story. 

Vaughn’s design inspiration for this production stems from a fusion of traditional tribal African garments, the graceful movement of dancers, futuristic metals, and a palette of bright colors. He sought to capture the essence of family connection through repeating patterns, creating a visually dynamic and culturally rich experience. 

His design process is versatile and doesn’t adhere to a fixed formula. It often begins with sketches or fabric exploration, capturing initial ideas. Other times, it’s sparked by witnessing the production in progress, absorbing the show’s atmosphere and dance movements. This immersive approach allows him to create something uniquely tailored to the performance. 

The design process is ongoing, evolving until the last minute. Vaughn constantly refines, adds, and occasionally removes elements to enhance the overall visual impact. It’s a dynamic journey guided by intuition, feel, and a clear vision, ensuring that each design element harmonizes seamlessly with the unfolding production. 

Vaughn’s favorite costume for MOTheR is the Mother of Beauty costume, where he utilized panels of fabric to create an intricately detailed and shaped silhouette. His design choice adds a level of sophistication and richness to the overall aesthetic of the performance. 

We’re excited to see what’s next for Vaughn. He’s diving into the creation of a new spring collection, exploring fresh concepts and innovative designs. Additionally, he’s thrilled about some upcoming collaborations with new grant projects in 2024. And he remains committed to continued work on theatre costume design. Follow him on Instagram @BrandinVaughnCollection

A Preview of Vaughn’s Designs for MOTheR

“I am deeply grateful to Kirven for trusting me to help bring his incredible vision to life. What makes this story even more special is how it resonates with me on a personal level. Growing up, I was raised by a tribe of phenomenal women who supported and poured their hearts into me. They taught me to believe in myself and chase my dreams, especially in a creative field where black men are often undervalued, unsupported, or overlooked. It’s moments like these that remind me of the importance of representation and breaking down barriers. I hope this production inspires others, especially young black men, to embrace their creative talents and defy the odds.” —Brandin Vaughn