New designer ushers in new era of Texas Rose Festival | Local News


Every time Jacob A. Climer saw a fitted dress for the Texas Rose Festival, he became more excited as the young women in the dresses helped bring his vision to life.

Climer is the new designer of the Texas Rose Festival. He takes over the reins from Winn Morton, the longtime costume designer who retired after the 2019 Texas Rose Festival.

“The right woman chooses the right dress and every time I walked into a fitting I was like, ‘She made me even more excited about this,'” Climer said.

Originally from Dallas, Climer has been based in New York City since 2005.

Growing up, he was active in music, dance and community performances. He attended an art school in Dallas and learned theater design there.

“My high school had a full costume store, where I learned sewing and draping and how to finish the designs,” he said.

As a designer, Climer was involved in “all parts” of the pieces, which he appreciated.

He then studied costume and stage design at university. He received a BFA from Evansville University and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University.

In one of his first jobs, Climer designed costumes in the Southern Methodist University costume store, where he first met Morton and began to learn about the Texas Rose Festival. A few years later, he was back in the SMU costume shop, designing for the Dallas Shakespeare Festival.

Since then his career has grown and Climer has designed for renowned theaters and opera companies across the country. Highlights of his career include new musicals with John Kander and Sarah Ruhl; “Orphée” at the Des Moines Metro Opera and the Portland Opera; “The Flying Dutchman” at the Atlanta Opera, Cincinnati Opera and Houston Grand Opera; and the contemporary production of “Les Misérables” at the Dallas Theater Center.

When Morton announced his retirement, Climer was highly recommended at the Texas Rose Festival and he is excited to present his first costumes for the event this year.

“This year is inspired by classic 1950s evening wear,” he said. “I am delighted to make dresses that look like dresses and not full architectural costumes.”

Describing his aesthetic, Climer said he’s a bit of a chameleon in that he does the right thing for every project. Most of his experience is in theater and opera where he designs costumes after seeing a script. However, the Texas Rose Festival is different because the script is rather designed around her work.

“None of these dresses can be worn on the street, but I want to make sure I think of the woman inside the dress and make sure she shines through,” he said. .

Because the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the 2020 festival, Climer had a bit more time to work on the costumes; However, finding certain fabrics and other items needed for some of the models was a challenge as stores and factories altered hours, capacities and in some cases had to close. Additionally, he said, the pandemic affected many seamstresses on the team as they could not be staffed due to social distancing. Some accommodations were also made over the phone due to travel restrictions.

Despite the challenges, Climer managed to produce the beautiful dresses for one of the biggest Texas rose festivals in history. Clmer said there were 53 women in this year’s event, which is among the biggest.

He can’t wait for the East Texas community to see his creations come to life at the Rose Festival and he’s also excited to be a part of future events.

“We plan to remain a team for as long as possible,” said Climer, referring to his relationship with the Texas Rose Festival. “We have already started the first discussions about the next festival and I am delighted to hear more.”

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