Kent State theatre and fashion professor drapes costumes for new Netflix series


Bauer draping the dresses for Netflix’s “The Dark Crystal.”

Assistant theatre professor Kerry Jo Bauer’s passion for fashion design started the moment she received her first sewing machine at five years old. Bauer went on to become the costume designer on the Netflix series “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.”

“I am so fortunate and lucky that they said, ‘yes, come in and interview,’” she said. “And I said yes and I got the job.”

“The Dark Crystal” is a puppet-animated dark fantasy film originally released in 1982 and the reboot was released by Netflix on Aug. 30. 

The original movie was directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, and the book was illustrated by Brian Froud.

Bauer described the reboot of “The Dark Crystal” as a visual wonder that takes place on planet Thra. 

“These Skeksis take over Thra and what happens is they suck the essence of life out of these Podlings and the Gelflings in order to make them live forever,” she said. 

Bauer is no stranger to working production behind the scenes of films and special effects companies. Before “The Dark Crystal,” she worked on the set of the 2013 adaptation of “Carrie,” where she draped the slaughtered pig.

Bauer said her background in animal design comes from her husband, who’s an animal trainer.

“Animals need costumes too,” she said. “I started designing and building costumes for Target’s Bullseye and that exploded because I was building costumes for this really odd silhouette, you know, very different from your typical human body.”

Bauer also made costumes for Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush, the Rolling Stones and the Eagles. 

She’s most known for the hotel displays she created for the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. 

“We built 50-foot dragons and one year we built a 20-foot swan and we had 12 horses, stuff like that,” Bauer said.

Now a professor in the theatre and fashion department, Bauer said the first thing she loved about Kent State was the Fashion Museum.

“I remember going to the fashion museum and seeing the period costumes,” she said. “That’s when my heart just like, you get this thud in your heart, and you know, that’s what you want to do.”

Bauer teaches basic sewing classes for freshmen fashion students in Rockwell Hall and in the theater department she’s an assistant professor of costume technology. 

She said costume design is different from fashion design because the designer is creating a costume for the story. 

“You are there to support the story,” Bauer said. “That’s your job. You’re giving time reference, you’re giving social-economic reference.”

While working on “The Dark Crystal,” Bauer said she enjoyed combining fashion and costume design. 

“I have my costume and my sewing side and the fabrication,” Bauer said. “When these two worlds came together it was definitely a dream.”

Contact Gershon Harrell at [email protected]