October 22, 2018
We went backstage with Ella Rain Newman, the founder and creator of Reine Institute, who’s mission is to work behind the scenes to open doors for women in the entertainment industry. Reine is launching it’s first collaborative costume exhibit at Hutton Hotel this November called Queens: Designing the Royals, which will feature costumes from legends spanning genres and generations created by some of Nashville’s most empowering women in wardrobe.
Hutton Hotel: Tell us how you came to start Reine?
Ella Rain Newman: I wanted to create a studio where I could produce beauty, protected from the traumas of the entertainment industry, but as the inimitable Ava Duvernay said, “If your dream only includes you, it’s too small.”
HH: What needs do you want to try to fulfill in the entertainment industry that weren’t there before?
ERN: The entertainment industry is not designed for women to succeed. Women are sidelined by complex issues of equity and access, beyond what the public has seen splashed in the headlines. The good news is that the industry is barely a century old, so we can change our culture within a generation.
HH: Why is Nashville a great headquarters for you to empower women in the entertainment industry?
ERN: Nashville has the talent and the resources to produce a project that’s never been done before. I began my career in New York and LA, and there’s a great value to doing things out of the spotlight.
HH: What inspired you to create an exhibit like Queens?
ERN: Costumes are accessible. Reine Institute is showing women the jobs available behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. The wardrobe department is just the beginning.
HH: Tell us about the costumes you’ll be displaying at the exhibit.
ERN: Each costume tells a story. In entertainment, women are isolated by design. One woman entertainer will be paired with one woman in hair and makeup and one in wardrobe, maybe. Beyond that, production crews are seas of men.
Our costumes show women supporting women. Women hiring women. Women trusting women with their bodies. Women helping other women’s careers. Women valuing the health and well being of each other more than a deadline.
Most of the women in this exhibit had never met each other. They aren’t isolated anymore.
HH: How did you decide which women’s costumes would be featured in the exhibit?
ERN: I let the women who made them decide.
HH: What’s your favorite costume on display?
ERN: The suits. Women weren’t intended to wear suits, and suits were meant to be sewn by tailors, not seamstresses. Each time a woman confirms a suit to be featured, I smile. This is about agency, and women are claiming their power.
HH: What do you think Nashville Design Week will bring to the city of Nashville?
ERN: The city has been in a boom, and now it’s time for a spark.
HH: What are your favorite places to shop around Nashville?
HH: Where do you love to see Nashville’s artistic talent?
ERN: Wedgewood Houston is our version of the warehouse district. They continually lower the barriers, let artists create, then open their doors to an audience.