Sunday, 26 June 2011


Still from the film The Dresser with Albert Finney & Tom Courtenay

just had to share with you this wonderful article from the New York Times. My friend Nicky Burford who has just finished the Britain's Got Talent TV show and tour brought it to my attention. I would like to add though that dressers in the UK get half the wage of their American counterpart so often have to take  a second job too!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

windows & weddings

Part of my job lately has been to visit many of London's fabric shops collecting samples of particular shades of fabrics for the show. There may be a certain linen say that is used for years for a particular costume then suddenly it isn't made anymore. So the quest for something similar starts. We are not far from Berwick Street in Soho which has many wonderful shops and the window displays are always so imaginative like the one below.

Berwick street cloth shop

Just off the Edgeware Road is Joels and Son. This is a huge shop with an amazing array of fabrics. I was there just before the royal wedding and couldn't resist a quick  (but awful) snap of their window display. It was draped in fabric printed with pictures of the royal couple.

Joel and Sons window

Almost immediately after the wedding we received these samples from James Hare. So if you want to recreate the wedding dress or even bride's mother's dress, it's all there!

The shopping part of the job is a mixed blessing. It can be lovely to get out of the basement we work from and stretch your legs but trying to get around London when you are against the clock can be frustrating too. Especially when you can't find what you have been sent out for. returning empty handed is not good. I did have one successful trip recently in Shepherds bush though for personal reasons. I had been fabric sourcing in the many shops on Goldhawk Road. I couldn't resist popping into a charity shop near the tube where I found this beauty. 

bleached scrubbed and full of bangles

I am so thrilled with my chamber pot, it was one of those buys where the staff can't actually understand why somebody is so thrilled with the item, they thought I was going to put a plant in it. Maybe if I come across another.

I had a similar question from two of my favorite bloggers Vix and Helga recently about what we do if a performer puts on a lot of weight during a long run? People do sometimes put a little on and so we might let out a seam or two. It is unusual for someone to need a whole new costume, I haven't come across it. I have heard rumours that some shows have a clause in the performers contract that they will keep a constant size to avoid this but I am not privvy to such things so couldn't swear to it. Generally when a performers costume is straining and zips are busting they see the light and do something about it themselves!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Mamma Mia I'm in an office!

I'm still putting in a full week in the Mamma Mia costume office. This makes a nice change from working in a venue plus I get to have my weekends and evenings free like normal people. There are many productions of the show going on across the globe at any one time and as with most commercial productions the artistic ethos of the show is kept very tight. If you have put your heart and soul into a production you are not likely to let any Tom, Dick or Harry put on an inferior production and ruin your hard work. so the London office keeps a tight reign on all productions.

the fabric stock

Today I have been doing some prep work for the upcoming Paris re cast. Mostly cutting suit fabrics for the wedding scene to send to the costume maker. Then putting together the bible,  In the bible we have pictures of the cast, measurements and samples of the fabrics there costumes are made from. As well a photos of the designs and who they are allocated to.

measurement sheet
There are a lot of measurements needed as the costumes vary so much. There are dresses, suits, swimsuits, hats, shoes, wetsuits and flippers. Most things are made with a few exceptions being bought from the high street, like bikini tops and shorts. The shoes are mostly made as the dancing requires strong  secure footwear. It is a huge show and the attention taken over every detail shows on stage. The new cast had there first show on Monday, it looked amazing and they were knock out. If you have never seen Mamma Mia or fancy seeing it again now is the time. This cast are truly special, lovely natural acting. I hadn't seen the show since I last toured with it 5 or 6 years ago and loved every minute of it.