The BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design degree is set in the thriving filming locations of the North East with great links to industry leaders in costume. This programme is a provider of costumiers for the entertainment industry and will equip you with the skills in costume construction and design you need.
Alongside bespoke skills of millinery and tailoring; we are one of the few design degrees in the country that offer this. Our degree is unique in that we have a distinctive studio culture; no two days on this course are ever the same. We back this up with a wealth of industry links, exhibitions and opportunities
You will receive full training in the skills, techniques and craft you need to create superb costume for film, television, theatre and performance as well as beautiful evening and bridal wear, including:
• costume & clothing design
• millinery (hat-making)
• leatherwork - leather moulding/embossing
By the end of your three years, you will be able to design, source materials and create full costumes. You will showcase your designs in a final degree show which will be seen by industry specialists. The programme is built on strong industrial relationships and you may have the opportunity to work on live briefs, work placements and collaborate with students from a range of our other programmes including Acting and Film, TV and Theatre Production; this will enable you to gain a real understanding of the costume industry.
The Godber Theatre Foundation Prize 2021
You will be provided with a design bay, desk and storage locker and all workshop materials are free. The School also provides fitting rooms, sewing rooms with industry-standard equipment and wet rooms for the production of fabric. You will be working with experienced industry practitioners who continue to work within television, film and theatre. You will have access to the School’s costume collection - with garments from the 1800s onwards - providing a rich primary source for understanding and learning. In your final year, you will have the opportunity to exhibit your designs to an audience of industrial practitioners. With great industry links, we welcome visiting guest lecturers throughout the programme, recent guests have included: Amber Butchart ( A Stitch in Time BBC) & Michele Carragher (Game of Thrones HBO).
• Costume construction techniques
• Critical analysis and costume interpretation
• Design and illustration for costume
• Fabric manipulation and applied surface decoration
• Period and contemporary pattern cutting
• Costume communication theory and visualisation skills
• Millinery and trimming techniques
• Professional and commercial links within the industry
• Research, exploration and construction skills for specialist costume
• Tailoring for costume industry and specialist sampling
• Live briefs
• A final project
• Portfolios that span traditional and social media routes
• Work for competitions and live industry briefs
Industry Liaison Group
Amber Butchart, Academic & TV Fashion Historian Gillian Wolfe, Head of Costume Beamish
Our Alumni work across a wide range of productions, including:
• Exodus: Gods and Kings starring Christian Bale (20th Century Fox)
• Fleabag, BBC
• His Dark Materials, BBC
• Gentleman Jack, BBC
• Doctor Who BBC
• Into the Woods starring Meryl Streep (Disney)
• Sherlock Holmes starring Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC)
• Wolf Hall starring Damien Lewis (BBC)
• Victor Frankenstein starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe
• Beowulf (ITV)
• Victoria starring Jenna Coleman (ITV)
• Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Disney)
• SS-GB starring Sam Riley (BBC)
Our graduates work in a wide range of careers including:
• Entertainment industries - Disney, Tussauds Group
• Freelance designer & constructor
• costume houses - RSC, Angels, Cosprop, Opera Houses, Theatres, TV, Film
• heritage industries – museum exhibitions
• castles/stately homes - re-enactment and entertainment
• costume preservation
• teaching & education
Costume Designers Guild ‘Costume Excellence in Contemporary Television’ Nominee, Fleabag, BBC
Your portfolio is a visual statement it says a lot about an applicant and their practice. The advice below is not meant to be restrictive but rather offers some simple advice to help you prepare for your interview.
What we like to see
Generally, sketchbooks, drawings, project work and evidence of your sewing skills; this can be garments, bags, embroidery etc. which you have either made for college projects or for personal use. If you have a lot of these, which are often difficult to carry, then just bring a small selection of your most successful pieces
and bring photographs of the rest.
Any drawings from life drawing, experimenting with different media to design sketches and illustrations.
Your research will show us what excites you and what has inspired you during your projects and course. This needs to be evident in your sketchbooks and should include visual references to other artists and designers. You should include references to contemporary and historical practices and show your interest in costume in its widest context.
Our school engages with a wide range of partners working across each creative sub-sector to ensure that teaching and learning are in line with the latest developments in and requirements of industry, including:
Amber Butchart is a curator, writer and broadcaster who specialises in the cultural and political history of textiles and dress. Amber is a longstanding friend of The School – she was the Valedictory Speaker at our 2019 Graduation Ceremony and has delivered talks and worked with our costume students. She is perhaps best known for her regular appearances on The Great British Sewing Bee and her own TV series for BBC ‘A Stitch In Time’. She is a frequent contributor to TV and radio and has published five books on fashion and cultural history. amberbutchart.com
Angels Costumes is the go-to costume provider for high end TV and feature films as well as theatre. They were established back in 1840 and have the largest collection of costumes and accessories anywhere in the world. They design, make and hire costume to an amazing range of productions. Their credits include:
The Crown, Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocket Man, Aladdin, Beauty and The Beast, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Dads Army, Death of Stalin, Emerald City, Florence Foster Jenkins, Brooklyn, Peaky Blinders, Taboo, Swallows and Amazons, Sleepy Hollow, Victoria, Call The Midwife, Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall, Poldark, Assassins Creed, and Peaky Blinders, to name just a small sample. Many of these have attracted Oscar and BAFTA awards and nominations. angels.co.uk
Gillian Wolfe Head of costume Beamish Museum
Beamish is a world famous outdoor museum which recreates different periods from the Georgian through to the 1950s. It is a living, working museum that uses its collections to connect with people from all walks of life and tells the story of everyday life in the North East of England. As such all staff wear period relevant and accurate costume to help transport visitors back in time. beamish.org.uk
Watch now to find out what it's like to be a costume student on our unique degree programme!
VISIT AN OPEN DAY
Behind the scenes with Johan Kusters - Costume by student Marloes Peerenboom
Our equipment and facilities reflect many of the tools used in the real world, so you graduate ready for the world of employment. The learning environment we provide is unique, offering a sewing studio which is in a 1800s public library and individual work bays for all students.
Senior Lecturer - BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design
Prior to her academic career, Jane was self-employed for 10 years supplying costumes to film, TV, a variety of clothing outlets worldwide and performance costumes to a variety of artists, including the Spice Girls. She also worked with various television wardrobe departments, including Channel 4 - designing and making outfits for a number of presenters for programmes including Changing Rooms, The Big Breakfast and ITV – supplying costumes for The Bill. Jane ran her own clothing label, supplying fashions to a variety of clothing outlets worldwide, including Galleries Lafayette Paris and Harrods as well as a number of concession shops in John Lewis and Top Shop’s flagship store on Oxford Street.
Qualifications: PGCE, MA, FHEA
Ian is Module Leader for Costume Design, Tailoring and Cut & Construction on the costume programme, working across all three year groups. Guiding the students through their studies, including a range of specialist traditional handcraft techniques incorporating bespoke Tailoring, garment construction and hand finishing techniques, also underpinning the importance of the character, when designing and constructing costumes. As well as incorporating live assignments within the industry, including Auckland Castle and Beamish open air museum, students have the opportunity to collaborate with Production Design for Stage and Screen, Acting and Film, on in-house projects as well as live assignments within sessions.
Ian is active within the costume industry, having been involved with a large number of local productions and museums, including Beamish open air Museum (2015), Kynren – Eleven Arches (2017) and ‘The Theatre upstairs’ Billingham (2013/ 2016), as well as running several successful specialist night courses at Cleveland College of Art and Design, including corsetry and beginning to sew (2014/ 2015).
Qualifications: BA (Hons), PGCE, FHEA
Sally began working at Cleveland College of Art and Design in 2016 on the BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design course, lecturing on pattern cutting, construction techniques, embellishment, millinery, tailoring and design, across all three year groups.
Since graduating, Sally has gone on to work on shows at the National Theatre, Scottish Opera, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Opera North and Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, gaining a high skill base. During her time at Cleveland College of Art and Design, Sally has continued to keep a strong link with the industry, teaching students key skills, and integrating live industry briefs into student modules - working with Creature Encounters, Kynren and Bishop Auckland Castle. Sally has a keen eye for historical clothing and accuracy within construction techniques. Now as a lecturer for BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design, Sally aims to share her industry experience and knowledge with students.
Qualifications: BA (Hons), PGCE
Fran’s professional career spans over 30 years prior to joining the costume department in 2017 and in that time, she has continued to develop her professional practice through activities, research and accumulating various qualifications including achieving her PGCE!
She uses her experience of pattern drafting, fine sewing skills and garment construction to support the student’s studies and the production of costumes for various live projects. Her role involves the delivery of demonstrations to all modules, across the three levels of BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design, as well as ensuring a safe working environment whilst on campus.
Fran’s professional career since 1986 has included a variety of costume construction work, beginning with a 10 year tailoring background, being one of the only dressmakers in the north east of England who constructed mess dresses for the military, for the UK and around the world, along with jointly owning a successful costume business.
Qualifications: BA (Hons), PGCE
This degree is for you if you wish to have a career in: