YANKTON, S.D. -- Ask Rachel Coyle about her typical day and the Chicago-based designer said it might include distressing clothes to be worn on TV's "Empire," fashioning elaborate tutus for a production of "The Nutcracker," while figuring out a feasible way to create a 3-D teapot costume for a stage version of "Beauty and the Beast." 

"You have to be willing to think outside of the box when you're constructing costumes," she said, laughing.

Coyle, a Yankton, South Dakota, native, has been thinking outside of the box since 2013. That's when she began assisting Travis Halsey, a Springfield, South Dakota, native who has designed and built costumes for ballets, operas, theater, circuses, television and film for more than 15 years.

The costuming duo will be showcasing many of their favorite designs in an exhibit called "Fake Clothes for Imaginary People."

The exhibit -- which features costumes constructed for the Houston Ballet Company, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and even Madonna's "Rebel Heart Tour," among others productions -- will open at 5 p.m. April 14 at the GAR Hall Art Gallery, 508 Douglas Ave., Yankton.

Coyle and Halsey will be giving a gallery talk during the show's opening reception. The exhibit's costumes will remain on display at the GAR Hall Art Gallery until May 23.

"I was never into theater when I was a kid," Coyle, a 2011 University of South Dakota studio art graduate, explained. "Instead, art was always my passion."

Yet Coyle's expansive knowledge of color theory and sculpting caught the eye of Halsey, a University of Nebraska Omaha theater arts graduate, who had a background in both design and the technical aspects of costume construction.

Their costuming has been seen in such films as "Divergent" and TV shows like "Chicago Fire."

"In movies and TV shows, I distress clothes," Coyle said. "That's just another way of saying I make them dirty."

For instance, a fireman on "Chicago Fire" shouldn't have a perfectly clean uniform after battling a blaze. That's where Coyle comes in and messes things up a bit. 

Mostly, Coyle and Halsey's costume shop is best known for intricately constructed tutus.

"Ballet tutus represent about 80 percent of our business," Coyle said. "Making tutus is becoming a lost art form."

She said piling fabric upon fabric onto a ruffled skirt is much more demanding and time-consuming than you might think. 

"Classically constructing a professional tutu requires yards and yards of fabric," Coyle said, "Before I got into costuming, I had no idea about tutus."

Indeed, she sees costuming as an extension of any art form.

"Costumes can be as important to a show as the performers," Coyle said.

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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