Found in the LOC: 13 Bill Perkins Costume Designs

For 2019’s first Found in the LOC, feast your eyes on these 13 thirties-era costume sketches by designer William Perkins.

I haven’t found too much  information about Perkins, but he clearly had a knack for the theatric and an eye for alluring style. Below, you’ll find costumes Perkins designed for a production of William Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, as well as some for Jack Erman’s  The Mystery of the Broadwalk Asylum, a sci-fi tale that, if the notes are correct, starred Martha Wright before she became Broadway sensation.

Most notable are Perkins’ designs for the 1938 premiere of activist Arthur Arent’s One-Third of A Nation.

Produced by the New Deal-era Federal Theater Project, One-Third condemned political leaders for the affordable housing crisis in New York City and other urban areas. The general message: slums and other dilapidated dehumanized and endangered innocent people for capitalist gain. It drew 270,000 viewers in the city alone, and even more once it toured across major urban areas.

You can imagine how this went over in DC: Conservative lawmakers were so incensed that they rallied their forces against the Federal Theater Project and forced its closure the next year.

Above, Perkins’ 1937 sketch of Winter’s Tale‘s Antigonus, the poor schmuck who gets eaten by a bear while abandoning a baby on the king’s orders. But at least he was wearing a gorgeous robe before becoming the beast’s dinner!

See more of Perkins’ mesmerizing sketches AFTER THE JUMP.

And click here for more Found in the LOC.

The Tragical Historie of Doctor Faustus: The Good Angel,” June 8, 1937:


Winter’s Tale: Archidamus,” October 26, 1937:


Winter’s Tale: Leontes,” October 26, 1937:


Winter’s Tale: Polixines,” October 26, 1937:


Winter’s Tale: Attendant,” October 26, 1937:


Mystery of the Broadwalk Asylum: Kynnston,” February 1, 1938:


Mystery of the Broadwalk AsylumPoiret/ Martha Wright,” February 1, 1938: [Note: It’s unclear whether this outfit was meant to be by French designer Poiret or simply inspired by his lines.]


Monsignor’s Hour: Gabriel Raphael Pagnini,” March 22, 1938:


Autumn Crocus: Liese and Mina,” September 14, 1981:


Autumn Crocus: Alaric and Frau Stiener,” September 14, 1981:


One-Third of a Nation: Alderman and Minister,” June 27, 1938:


One-Third of a Nation: [City Women],” June 27, 1938:


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