Eddie Marks began his costuming career in 1965 at MGM Studios. He went freelance after three years, and eventually became the Costume Supervisor on the hit TV series Streets of San Francisco, starring Karl Malden and Michael Douglas. In 1987, Eddie received an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Costuming for a Mini Series or Special” for his work on the CBS-MOW Shakedown on Sunset Strip, a 1950’s L.A. crime drama. He served as Costume Supervisor on an impressive list of films, including The Breakfast Club, Revenge of the Nerds, Christmas Vacation, Dead Poets Society, and Postcards From the Edge.
Like so many Western employees, Eddie’s first association with the company came when he utilized its services as a costumer. In 1989, he was hired as Senior Vice President, and two years later was promoted to President of the company. During Eddie’s time as President, Western has grown into one of the largest and most prestigious costume houses in the world. Eddie supervised the company’s 1992 massive move from Melrose Avenue to its current location on Vanowen Street in North Hollywood. He has overseen the growth of Western’s uniform department, as well as acquired some of America’s most admired private clothing collections for Western’s stock. A member of Local 705, Eddie has also volunteered his time serving on the Executive Board of Motion Picture Costumers, Local 705, where he helped negotiate contracts between producers and costumers.
Married to Debby in 1977, they have two boys, Branden and Garrett. Branden is a third generation costumer and Garrett a producer. They also have a grandson, Aiden. In 1982, Debby and Eddie started a rental wardrobe trailer business called Rag Van Rentals, which they still operate today.
Monica Allegro, head of Western’s Purchasing Department, describes herself as a “detective using her years of research skills and a vast network of resources to find the unfindable.”
Prior to purchasing in the costuming business, Monica was a purchaser in the highly demanding aerospace industry. Need gold buttons for a lady’s dress, circa 1900, London? No problem for Monica, compared to securing parts for the space shuttle.
Monica joined Western in 1994 and has made an industry name for herself as a buyer who will virtually go to the ends of the earth to satisfy her customers. When the film Tropic Thunder needed eight identical Hmong jackets, Monica found them through a source in Southeast Asia. In 2004, Western was tasked with creating historically accurate uniforms for Disney’s film, The Alamo, “she found a gentleman who’s a part-time archeologist and had just located authentic pieces from the Mexican Army uniforms right in his Texas backyard,” shares Monica. “He was kind enough to overnight me the findings from his dig and we had these recreated to the actual dimensions.” Where else in L.A. can a costumer find a buyer who works such purchasing magic?
Director of Research & Archives
From a 5th grade paper on Civil War uniforms to a college term paper on Elizabethan sumptuary laws, Leighton has been doing costume research as long as she can remember. After graduating from Grinnell College with a BA in History, she went on to earn an MFA in Costume Design from UCLA, during which time she worked as a research assistant to Deborah Nadoolman Landis on her book Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design.
Her first job was for costume designer Deborah Hopper on Invictus, which prepped out of Western. She subsequently worked as a researcher and costume production assistant for designer Jeffrey Kurland on Inception. Kurland hired her as an assistant costume designer on his next film, allowing her to join the Costume Designers Guild in 2009. Leighton worked as an assistant designer on a number of feature films, including Captain America: The First Avenger and Goosebumps, before coming to work at Western Costume in 2014.
Head Tailor Jack Kasbarian, a native of Lebanon, learned his craft at a cousin’s tailor shop before moving to this country. He began his career as a coat maker at Frank Hoffer Tailoring, a prestigious Rodeo Drive bespoke shop.
Jack joined the Western Costume family in 1985, and became Head Tailor in 1998. His skills can be seen in films like Hidalgo and Disney’s The Alamo. Jack also crafted and supervised the building of coats and suits for Harrison Ford for the film 42. He has a special fondness for making coats: “I like to work on period suits, tailcoats, and tuxedos,” he says. “It’s challenging. And not too many people can do it.”
Head of Uniform and Military Department
It was a given that Gilbert Moussally would work in costumes – his father was an industry tailor and Gilbert grew up around clothes. He has since spent over two decades in the costume industry. He got his first job at American Costume, and before moving to Western, Gilbert ran the uniform department at Motion Picture Costume Co. for 10 years. His favorite aspect of the job is working directly with costumers to give the best service possible. Gilbert’s hands have been on many projects, including Jason Bourne, Live by Night , and Batman vs. Superman.
Head of Women’s Department
In 2004, Christina left Make-Believe, a small company that catered mainly to the public, and joined Western Costume. She began as a regular stock person – filing, pulling, and sizing clothes. When her predecessor departed, Christina was the logical choice to run the department.
Christina takes meticulous care of her collection and has streamlined Women’s Stock, making it a breeze for costumers to pull whatever they need. “I labeled everything and made it user-friendly,” she explains. “I’ve color-coded each decade so costumers know where to find each piece.”
The hit TV series Mad Men shows the beautiful results of Christina’s labors, as do the recent movies Django Unchained and Dark Shadows. Christina also handles all the Halloween rentals at Western.
Mauricio Osorio, a master leather artisan, brought his extraordinary skills to Western Costume over thirty years ago. A native of El Salvador, shoemaking is a family tradition for Mauricio – his grandfather, father, and five brothers all share the same trade.
Mauricio trained at his family’s shoe factory for five years, then immigrated to America in 1973. He worked at a number of shoe factories before joining the Western Costume family in 1978. Mauricio can make anything in leather – from shoes and boots, to belts, handbags, and dresses. This talented artist can even make metal armor and jewelry.
Though piecework is customary in modern shoemaking, Mauricio’s shoes are constructed as one complete process which is what makes Western Costume’s world-class Custom Shoe department so unique. Mauricio and his team can take a pair of shoes from sketch to street. Their footwear has been featured in films like True Grit, Cowboys and Aliens, and Captain America. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neill are just a few of the lucky stars shod by Mauricio and company. “Every customer is different and my goal is to make each one happy,” says Mauricio.