The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

William Ivey Long

William Ivey Long

Costume Designer
Born on Saturday, August 30, 1947

Interviewed on: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Location: Mr. Long's Studio
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #94
"…what are our values and how do you express your values through the play, or how are the values of the play expressed through your design?...They become one and the same in this process."
William Ivey Long Highlights
Video Length: 6 Minutes, 13 Seconds
William Ivey Long Interview Part One
Video Length: 2 Hours, 3 Minutes
William Ivey Long Interview Part Two
Video Length: 1 Hour, 15 Minutes
William Ivey Long Interview Part Three
Video Length: 1 Hour, 58 Minutes

William Ivey Long, born in Seaboard, North Carolina, is a costume designer known for his work on Broadway, Off-Broadway, television and film. Attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for a Ph.D. in Art History, he went on to Yale University studying with Ming Cho Lee. He moved to New York to work with the legendary couturier Charles James as an unpaid assistant. In 1978, set designer Karen Schulz, from Yale, suggested him to be the costume designer of the The Inspector General, beginning his Broadway career. He has earned  15 Tony nominations, winning six, won an OBIE (ASSASSINS, 1990) and the Henry Hewes Design Award (THE NEW CENTURY, 2011). In 2005 he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. In 2012 he was elected Chairman of the American Theatre Wing, and in 2017 received the Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award.

William Ivey Long was brought up in the theater where his father  was a set designer and technical director, and his mother an actress.  Both of his parents wrote plays. When at Yale he studied under Ming Cho Lee, Kingman Brewster, and William Sloane Coffin where the focus was on ethics, morality and living a beneficial life. This ethos formed his creative work.  At Yale, he also made the friendships of classmates Christopher Durang, Meryl Streep,  Albert  Innaurato, Wendy Wasserstein, Michael Feingold, Sigourney Weaver and Karen Schulz. He has also designed for the Vienna State Opera, La Scala, Houston Grand Opera, and Twyla Tharp, Peter Martins, David Parsons, Mick Jagger for the Rolling Stones,  and  Susan Stroman.  To this day his passion is to restore historical buildings to their pristine past

Mentioned in Interview

Andre Bishop, Louis Black, Christopher Durang, Michael Feingold, Albert Innaurato, Ming Cho Lee, Helen Merrill, Bob Moss, Joseph Papp, Sam Shepard, Meryl Streep, Wendy Wasserstein, Sigourney Weaver, American Place Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, NYSF/The Public, Primary Stages, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizon, Westside Theatre, AFTER THE FALL, ASSASSINS, GODSPELL, GREY GARDENS, HAMLET, THE MARRIAGE OF BETTE AND BOO, MASS APPEAL, THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP, SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU/THE ACTOR’S NIGHTMARE, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, TOVAH OUT OF HER MIND, TRUE WEST, VALHALLA