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Maui Girl Makes Good in Hollywood

Costumer Melody Koerber is in tune with Tinseltown.

April 7, 2011
Paul Janes-Brown

For some skilled seafarers who are able to navigate its shark-infested waters, Tinseltown can become an arena of artistic energy, where they can push boundaries and create new images for the future.

Melody Koerber is such a mariner—a Maui girl making it as a costumer in the entertainment capital of the universe.

After graduating from King Kekaulike High School in 2000, Melody left Maui for Hollywood two years later and hasn’t looked back.

Article Photos

Costumer Melody Koerber’s distinctive costuming style is a cross between gothic and Victorian—and throw in a generous dose of whimsy.

Photo: OPP

She returned to Hawai‘i last summer to work on Pirates of the Caribbean 4. One of her jobs was to “distress” the pirates’ costumes, which involved using sandpaper and wire brushes as well as dye and actual dirt.

Melody has a distinctive style that is a cross between gothic and Victorian—and throw in a generous dose of whimsy. No wonder… her mom is Deybra Fair, one of Maui’s best-known visual virtuosos and her dad is musician, composer and singer Rodney Koerber.

When Melody was a little girl, she sat with a pile of newspaper, glue and knickknacks (have you ever seen her mother’s studio?) and created whimsical paper mâché masterpieces.

“That was me,” said Melody, “a love for fantasy from the beginning.”

With a musician and an artist for parents, she decided that costuming was where she would make her mark.

On Maui in her mom’s comfortable Olinda home, Melody was hard at work on a costume for a fashion show in Beverly Hills, but took time to sit and chat about “LaLaLand” on the lovely lānai, while we enjoyed püpü and sipped wine.

“I’ve been making adornments my entire life, and having grown up in an artistic family, I had no lack of inspiration,” said Melody. “My passion for costume creation today combines my skills of illustration, sculpture and millenary with various other types of alternative fabrication.”

The test of an artist is their pencil sketching—it’s like a mirror of their mind. Melody’s sketchbook is very impressive, showcasing a fine hand and a rich imagination.

“Penny Rose is the great designer I worked for on Pirates of the Caribbean 4,” said Melody. She also aspires to be like Tim Burton’s designer, Colleen Atwood.

In five years of working in the movies and TV, Melody has steadily built her resumé and has drawn attention in Hollywood. Besides Pirates 4, she has worked on Adam Sandler’s Funny People and Unstoppable with Denzel Washington, graduating from B-movies and independent films to the world of A-list blockbuster features.

While she loves working in the movies and TV as a costumer—her bread and butter—her real passion is design. In between films, she busies herself designing for, a creation of Wax Minds Productions and the brainchild of Oliver Ponce. Wax Minds is a group of film industry professionals who combine movie magic with digital images to stop the world and capture a cinematic moment. The photographers shoot everything on-location in one day and claim everything in each photo is created with the camera—no Photoshop for these artists.

Last December, they held a fashion show in Celebrity Vault, the trendy Beverly Hills photography gallery, and last month they were featured in the third Sugar Art and Fashion Show.

“I tell my tale in each piece of my unique costume creations,” said Melody. “I will stimulate the world with my visually beautiful macabre delights. Today, I continue to evolve, because with each new project, a unique experience is on the forefront!”



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