In eighth grade, a prophetic computer game alerted Erin Schultz to what would ultimately become her life’s calling. After tallying up her interests, the computer deemed she was destined to become a set designer. Growing up in a small Minnesota town, her only theatrical experience to date had been making her own Halloween costumes, but who was she to question fate?
Schultz went on to earn her BFA from Syracuse University and an MFA in Theatrical Design for Stage and Film from New York University. While working on her master’s degree, she took a job at an event planning company. “I realized I could make a business of sourcing models and creating costumes for events,” she says. “I basically tailored the business to do what I wanted to do, and Plume is the result. Whatever wild idea a client dreams up, I can make it happen.”
Plume works with event planners to cast their staffing and theatrical needs, bringing in talent ranging from models, musicians, and bartenders to aerialists, fire breathers, go-go dancers, and burlesque performers. Plume’s team consists of makeup artists, costume designers, milliners, mask-makers, tailors, choreographers, and the like. “They work full-time on Broadway, television, commercials, and film, so I hire them project by project as needed,” Schultz says. “Having this network and knowing who would be best for each job is a big part of what I do.”
Costumes range in price from $500 to $600 for something purchased off the rack; considerably higher for custom work. “The fabric for one dress was $250 a yard, and it was covered with Swarovski crystals,” Schultz says. “Topped with a 3-D printed headpiece, the costume cost around $20,000.
A memorable event needs to have ‘wow’ moments, an element of theatrics, to make it really stand out,” Schultz says, noting that she has worked on such events as Katy Perry’s “Killer Queen” perfume launch, Bergdorf Goodman’s 111th anniversary party, and Clinique’s “Dramatically Different” skin-care event. A private circus-themed party in Greenwich was complete with contortionists and stilt walkers. For an 18th century debutante ball, Plume created elaborate period costumes for all the guests while another ball featured the White Rabbit, Red Queen, Cheshire Cat, and other denizens of Wonderland.
Plume doesn’t limit itself to humans but has also costumed a monkey à la The Wizard of Oz, a dog to be three-headed Cerberus, an elephant, and a camel. “For the camel, I needed to find the type of brightly colored blankets they wear during festivals in Rajasthan, India. I wasn’t able to locate anything like it online but found a local merchant there who knotted the blanket for me—exactly like my reference image. Once it arrived, I added more beads and tassels. The turnaround was just one week.”
The most titillating costume she designed? For a 12 Days of Christmas celebration, the seven maids a milking—accompanied by live goats—wore specially designed dresses that allowed them to discreetly “lactate” shots of tequila. Bare-chested, gold dusted, and exceptionally good-looking men sporting horns on their foreheads served as bartenders to the delight of all attendees.
Schultz loves what she does so much that sometimes she has difficulty tearing herself away. She was in the middle of planning a big event prior to the birth of her daughter and worked up to the moment she
was wheeled into the operating room. When nurses took her baby away to the nursery, she opened her laptop and got back to work.
After spending ten years in New York City, Schultz and her husband moved to Pound Ridge last year. They were looking for more space. “I wanted to be able to go into my back yard and not see another person,” she says. “But we also wanted to move to a place where we could be social when we wanted to be. Pound Ridge was a perfect fit.”