Fort Worth — If you've been a local theatergoer in the past decade plus, chances are you've seen the work of costume designer Aaron Patrick DeClerk, formerly known as Aaron Patrick Turner. He married his partner, Christopher DeClerk, in 2010, and changed his name; the couple had moved to their new home in Lebanon, New Hampshire, several years before that because of a job transfer for Christopher.
A native of Tulsa and graduate of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., with an MFA from University of Oklahoma, DeClerk moved to North Texas in the mid 2000s. His first local costumer job was for Amphibian Stage Productions, then still a fairly new group performing at various spaces at Texas Christian University. His first show for them: Richard Dresser's Below the Belt in 2006.
Since then, he has served as resident designer for Pegasus Theatre (2006-2011), Contemporary Theatre of Dallas (2006-2010), Teatro delle Muse (2008), Spectacular Senior Follies (2008-2010) and Oklahoma City Rep (2010-2012), and has designed costumes for WaterTower Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Children's Theater and Alabama Shakespeare Festival, to name a few. Among his many awards are several citations from the Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum.
His most steady local work since leaving North Texas has been with Trinity Shakespeare Festival, designing at least one show in each of TSF's six seasons, including this year's The Tempest, which closes its run June 29. In three of those seasons, he designed both shows, which run in repertory (he did not design this year's other show, The Comedy of Errors).
From an early age, he loved the glamourous, over-the-top designs of Bob Mackie—he was sketching his own fashion collection at the age of six and loved The Carol Burnett Show—DeClerk is particularly fond of big splashy dresses decked out with embellishments, but revels in Shakespeare and period costumes, too.
"My strength is as a storyteller," he says, "and I'm a big fan of collaboration."
It helped that he was born into a family with a love for show business. His aunt was a Las Vegas entertainer and his grandmother a costume designer. Between the ages of 13 and 15, he designed and sold his own line of T-shirts, earning enough money to buy his first car.
Hallmarks of his work include embellishments, attention to detail and intricate stitching, which you can see in his Regency-era costumes for The Tempest.
See his work for yourself in this slideshow, which includes some of his early sketches as a child and teenager, as well as photos of sketches from his professional work. Click the slideshow icon in the floating menu at bottom left of your screen to see more.
» Click here to read Jan Farrington's interview with T.J. Walsh about this season's productions
» Click here to read M. Lance Lusk's review of The Tempest
» Click here to read M. Lance Lusk's review of The Comedy of Errors