Thursday, 31 May 2012

Costumes in 'The Turn of the Screw'

The BBC's 2009 film adaptation of Henry James' Victorian Gothic novella 'The Turn of the Screw' features some exquisite costumes. Although the original ghost-story was published in 1898, director Tim Fywell sets the story in the 1920s and provides the viewer with an intense and disconcerting version of the narrative, exploiting the ambiguity of the book's content and Gothic conventions.

This film is beautifully crafted - the voyeuristic camera angles and surprising editing create a strong sense of suspense and paranoia - however it is Charlotte Walter's costume design, in particular her designs for the character of Flora, that stood out to me.

Living in a manor house in the country, Miles and Flora live a sheltered and secluded life with only their governess and servants. This is reflected in Flora's outfits, which not only convey her wealth, but also reflect this lifestyle of staying at home all day, playing. Her headdresses and headband, for example, would not be normal everyday wear for little girls in the 20s, and come across as sort of 'dressing-up'. These portray could portray innocence, but in their extravagance also hint at Flora's need to act older than her years, as would be the case if the governess' suspicions about Miss Jessel corrupting the children were true.

Walter's designs for Miles' costumes are equally important in ambiguously supporting Ann's suspicions. As he arrives at the train station, eerily appearing from a cloud of smoke, he wears a very adult suit - or is it a school uniform? The questions raised in regard to costume mirror those is Ann's mind.

My favourite costume item in the film would have to be Flora's feather headband, pictured below. The combination of slow-motion filming and the feathers moving around as Flora runs is breathtaking, as are the rich, vibrant colours: reds, pinks and dark purples, contrasted with bright summery white - incredibly beautiful!

Costume designer Charlotte Walter also worked on the Working Title/BBC production of 'Birdsong', an incredibly successful adaptation of the narrative set in WWI, and also contributed to 'The Scapegoat', a film set in the 1950s to be released later this year.

'The Turn of the Screw', BBC, 2009 is available on DVD.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Canvas Bags

I've been busy printing onto canvas bags to sell at the Showtime Stitches Etsy shop!

I cut my stencil from watercolour paper - a thick and durable paper great for multiple prints. Cutting the intricate detail at the bottom got very painful towards the end, but I am so happy with the results!

I am printing with these stencils onto high quality canvas bags, which are lightweight and great for shopping, carrying schoolbooks. They are easily folded up, to be stored in your handbag. I'll be posting soon to let you all know when they are ready - keep up to date by following Showtime Stitches on Bloglovin!

These bags will be available to buy at the Showtime Stitches Etsy shop very soon - hopefully by the end of next week! I may also start to sell prints of my designs, as posters - let me know in the comments if you would be interested!

Friday, 25 May 2012

The Great Gatsby

The long-awaited trailer for The Great Gatsby was finally released on May 22nd! The film, directed by Baz Lurhmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!) stars Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio as Daisy and Gatsby. It looks utterly spectacular - an sparkly, colourful, explosion of 1920s decadence.

The story is set during the "roaring" 20s, and age of American prosperity - and the costume and set design sure do show it! The scenes of Gatsby's parties are spectacular - confetti, dancers in twinkling costumes, beautifully cut dresses and suits...a feast for the eyes!

The glorious period costumes were designed by Catherine Martin, who also acted as Production Designer (and Producer!). She worked with director Lurhmann (also her husband) previously, on Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!.

And finally the famous couple, Gatsby and Daisy...

The Great Gatsby is set to be in cinemas on December 25th, Christmas Day, 2012 - I can't wait!!!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Sketches: McQueen

In my last post I shared my final pieces of my school art project. My designs were heavily influenced by Alexander McQueen's work, which I had seen in New York last summer, at the 'Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum. Here are my sketches, scanned from my sketchbook. They were drawn in pencil, then coloured with watercolour and some redrawn with pen:

The Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Met is my favourite exhibition I've been to to date - it was an incredible collection of McQueen's work, spanning his first collections to his last. I loved 'The Girl Who Lived in a Tree' best, which combined soft flowing tulle with military uniform-esque sleeves and jewels echoing the riches of old India.

McQueen's work cannot be classed purely as fashion...for me, his pieces are wearable art. They are theatrical, sculptural and tell stories. In this light, they are costumes just as much as they are fashion garments.

You can see all the fantastic pieces displayed at the 2011 exhibition in the book: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Ceramic Dresses

I made these two dresses using ceramics for the final piece of my A2 Art Coursework. The project was a personal investigation, and I chose to look at gothic and medieval design while bringing in elements of fashion and costume.We worked on our projects for about 6 months, and I created these dresses in the last 6 weeks of that time, making hundreds of ceramic pieces. The first dress is designed as a dance costume, the second as a fashion garment.

Initial designs, before colour development - sorry for the poor scans!

My dresses displayed at our school end of year exhibition

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Sonnet Stanfill, Curator at the V&A

Yesterday I posted about the V&A's upcoming exhibition celebrating ballgowns designed by British designers since the 1950s. Stylist magazine have published a 'Work Life' interview with V&A curator Sonnet Stanfill to coincide with the event. Stanfill was part responsible for this much-awaited exhibition, and this article outlines her work day.

V&A Curator

With an interest in period costume and the history of dress, I have often thought of becoming a curator in a museum, rather than working with historical costume for performance. The V&A would be a fantastic place to work in this field - they have collections from the middle ages to the present day, sharing clothing items from all over the world in beautiful displays. As a museum curator, you get to experience historical costume in detail, to research it in order to understand it's social context and textile history, rather than recreating styles in order to make new costumes, perhaps disregarding complete historical accuracy in order to allow for an actor's needs as a performer.

Sonnet Stanfill is in charge of the fashion galleries at the V&A, and co-curated the Ballgowns exhibition opening this Saturday. She says, in the Stylist article, that she worked closely with textile conservators to choose and display the ballgowns in appropriate ways, for example, each mannequin was individually chosen to suit a certain dress, to accentuate its defining features.

As well as ensuring that fashion from the 20th Century and contemporary collections is well-displayed and represented at the V&A, Stanfill responds to public enquiries and gives talks and lectures to visitors of the museum. She is currently working on a book, From Club to Catwalk, investigating fashion in 80s London, to coincide with an exhibition at the V&A of the same name, opening later this year.

You can read the whole article on the Stylist website. Visit the V&A website for information on the Ballgowns exhibition, or read my post about it here. In March, I posted about another of Stylist's career articles: Hannah Lobelson, wardrobe manager at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

(First photo from Stylist website, second and third photos show the ballgowns in the V&A exhibition)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

V&A Ballgowns

Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950, a new exhibition celebrating British fashion design opens at the V&A Museum on May 19th - I can't wait to see it!

This exhibition of British-designed evening wear looks incredible - pieces by Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Zandra Rhodes and many more will be on show, as well as dresses worn by the royal family.


Last summer I visited the Alexander McQueen exhibition in New York, and from the photos I have seen this collection of glitz and glamour is set to be just as good! I found it strange that the McQueen exhibition wasn't shown in England, so I'm very glad that this one is being held at the V&A, in London, the home of British fashion design.

The V&A is my favourite museum in London - it's an endless treasure trove, my favourite items being the historical clothing they have from all over the world. This exhibition ties in with the re-opening of the fashion galleries at the museum, one of many projects the V&A are currently developing to house their ever-growing collection of fashion and textiles. Next year, the new Centre for Textiles will open, which will be an incredible research tool for us costume and textile enthusiasts!

The exhibition is on from the 19th May until 6th January, see V&A website for more information.

I hope to visit this exhibition within the next few weeks - if anyone else visits, let me know how it is in the comments below!

I have also posted about the curator of this exhibition, Sonnet Stanfill, who was recently interviewed by Stylist magazine - see my post here.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Work Experience Advice Week - Day 7

It's Day 7, the last day of Work Experience Advice Week. So in keeping with the theme of endings, today's topic is...

What do I do now that my work experience is over?

- If you haven't already, write down what you did and learnt in a work experience diary 

- Say thank you to the company who have taken you on  - send them a card, email or give them a small gift - keep up a good reputation and you might be invited back one day!

(Lovely, uniquely designed Thank You notecards from Almond Craft and a cute Notebook from Cabin Dreams)

- Let them know if you are interested in working with them again in the future, perhaps on a longer placement

- Try to keep in touch with your supervisor/manager as professional contacts in the industry will come in very useful when looking for a proper job

- Ask if you could use your work experience director as a reference for future job applications. Also, ask if they could write you a short letter that you could show to interviewers at other companies

- Follow up on what you have learnt - go to events, talks, exhibitions and enhance your learning further

- Keep an eye out for any more experience opportunities, and have them ready for when you next want some experience - possibly using the contacts that you made during your first work experience?

I hope that you've enjoyed reading my advice on doing work experience, and that it comes in useful to you all.

Here are links to the other 6 posts from this week, in case you missed them:

 If you have any questions I would be more than happy to answer them, just write them in the comments below :) Follow me on Bloglovin for updates of future posts!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Work Experience Advice Week - Day 6

Work Experience Advice Week Day 6 - today I'm posting some useful links to help you on your way to getting work experience:

Costumes at the National Theatre
Some programmes suitable for under 18s:

Shakespeare's Globe
Fashion Museum in Bath
National Theatre

Suitable for university students:

Angel's Costumiers - Work Experience
Angel's Costumiers - Internships
RSC - Costume Making
RSC - Running Wardrobe
Royal Opera House
Tudor Tailor


Try The Arts
Local amateur dramatic groups
School productions

Wondering how to apply for experience? See the first post of Work Experience Advice Week here!

Have you ever done work experience at any of these places? What did you think of them? Recommended? Where would be your dream work experience? Share in the comments!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Work Experience Advice Week - Day 5

Day 5! Only a couple of days of Work Experience Advice Week left already! Today I'm sharing my tips on how to be a good work experience wardrobe assistant:

For anyone interested in a career in costume for theatre, it's best to get experience as an assistant or dresser in amateur dramatics. Usually these wardrobe teams are quite small, so here is how you can make the workload easier for everyone...

- Ask if anything needs to be done, rather than waiting to be given a job
- Be enthusiastic and positive
- Organise and write everything down - lists, lists, lists!
- Try your best to remember names
- Be active - move around, go from dressing room to dressing room if needed
- Speak confidently and be sure of yourself
- Learn to sew quickly - getting things down fast is of utmost importance in theatre
- Offer to help with quick changes etc.
- Keep the wardrobe area tidy and as clear as possible
- When working with young or less experienced people, label costumes kept on rails together, with labels on hangers.
- Keep others in your team informed of what you are doing

A page from my work experience diary - wardrobe assistant on Harry Hill's TV Burp, ITV

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Work Experience Advice Week - Day 4

Work Experience Advice Week, Day 4!

What do I need to take with me to work as a wardrobe assistant?

Here's my list of essentials to take to work in wardrobe....

1. A large bag with pockets
2. Sewing kit
3. Water
4. Energy boosting snacks
5. A smart-phone with internet access
6. Change
7. Travel card
8. Notebook and pens

As a wardrobe assistant, you won't usually need a big sewing kit. Here's one with the necessities...

1. Medium-sized purse
2. Pins
3. Sharp scissors
4. Velcro
5. Threads - black, white
6. Safety pins
7. Unpicker
8. Needles
9. Press studs
10. Tape measure

What do you think is invaluable to have with you when working in wardrobe? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Work Experience Advice Week - Day 3

It's Day 3 of 'Work Experience Advice Week'! Today, the topic is....

Lingo to Learn - key words you might need to know
Backstage at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

WARDROBE - costume department

COSTUME PLOT - scene-by-scene breakdown of costumes for each character

DRESS REHEARSAL - Run through of whole show in costume

DRESS PARADE - costumes are worn and actors walk on stage so that wardrobe can check that everything looks correct

TECH RUN - A run of the show to test sound and light set-ups

QUICK CHANGE - Costume change in the wings, between scenes

DRESSER - person working in wardrobe responsible for helping people into their costumes, handling them during a performance

WINGS - off stage to the sides

SET COSTUMES - putting costumes ready, in place e.g. in the wings for a quick change

RAT RUN - narrow passage at the back of the stage for stage crew to walk from right to left

EXIT - where the actor comes off stage

THE GET-IN - moving sets, costumes, props into the theatre/studio

STANDBY - ready for checks/adjustments on make-up and costume before filming

BOOK - script

PROPS - objects used on stage, separate from costumes

I'll be adding more to this list regularly - do you have any suggestions? Write them in the comments!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Work Experience Advice Week - Day 2

It's Day 2 of 'Work Experience Advice Week'! Today, we'll be answering the question:

You can benefit incredibly from doing work experience, whether it's just a day of shadowing to a few weeks of work. Here are my tips for getting the most out of your time:

- Make a good first impression

Let people remember you for the right reasons, and they'll be more likely to invite you back or recommend you to others.
- Have a constantly positive attitude

No matter what, always be happy and polite.

- Be confident

Show energy, enthusiasm and make yourself approachable.

- Ask questions

Engage in meaningful conversation with people. You will be surrounded by people with similar interests to yours, who will know everything you will need to learn to survive in the business. Asking questions and actively searching for knowledge is the only way to improve.

- Make contacts

Keep any info you are given: phone numbers, email addresses... These are priceless tools for getting further opportunities, work experience or paid.

And finally....
Keep a work experience diary!

Note down new things you do and learn, people you meet, things you want to remember. Read over it when you're feeling a little stuck, confused or demotivated - it'll remind you of what can be achieved and how you are moving forward with your dream job!

Do you have any tips on how to make the most of your work experience? Share them in the comments!