Saturday, 30 July 2011

R & R in Brighton

Work is always a little quiet in the summer and so I have been having a few trips away. Recently the fella and I took up a good friends offer of use of her flat in Brighton while she was away. I'm so lucky to have such generous friends. Of course while I was there I had to explore the Lanes, the vintage and charity shops. The glasses above where 50p in a charity shop and they go perfectly with my floral 60's dress that I haven't manage to get a picture of yet. That night I saw fabulous Helga was sporting the same pair on her blog, styling them up beautifully as always. They are great fun but the lenses are so dark the moment I step in the shade it is like someone has turned the lights out!

silly pose but the best way to feature the sleeves.

I took my 60's kaftan with me too for lounging around the flat and shouting at the noisy seagulls.
My fella and I love browsing the secondhand bookshops and this was my haul. A mahoosive marlene Dietrich biography, one of Gary Cooper and Sarah Bernhardt and a paperback about all the Fondas. It will be a while until I start reading these though as I am currently on the first chapter of a huge Charlie Chaplin autobiography. It's funny I'm not the slightest bit interested in current celeb lives but the stars of yesteryear fascinate me. Particularly the women, being independent successful career women in those days they were real trailblazers. Although the manipulation of their lives by the studios and the worlds expectations of women in those days put limits on their independence. 

The fella has a large library of books for research for his clockmaking business and is always on the look out for new material. We visited Colin Page 3 days in a row and at one point they let us into their storage space around the back and just left us there.  It was amazing, floor to ceiling shelves and piles of the most amazing books. Absolute heaven.

So apart from the screeching seagulls at stupid o clock in the morning we had a lovely time. We are off again this weekend on a tour of relatives and friends, can't wait. 

Thursday, 28 July 2011

English National Ballet and the Roland Petit triple bill

picture from The Independent on line

I was back at the Coliseum recently for a very special triple bill from English National Ballet. Roland Petit was a very famous french choreographer. I had only recently heard of him when I read Margot Fonteyn's biography. You can read about him from more knowledgable sources than me but safe to say he was always ahead of his time. Sadly he died the week before ENB's tribute. The three pieces were l’arlesienne, Le Jeune Homme et la Mort and Carmen. All three had a man tormented by love or a lover so rather depressing really by beautiful none the less.

The above pictures are all from Carmen the most colourful of the three pieces. The corsets were all slightly different in some detail or other. I didn't get the chance to take many photos  but there are some beautiful ones here and here.

I did manage a couple of snaps of my lovely colleagues though. Above you can see Gemma and in the corner up to her elbows in suds in Bryony who features in a similar picture in a previous post . She doesn't spend all her time at the sink and I shall remedy that with more pictures next time we work together (if she lets me). Gemma who is seen spot cleaning make up off the male dancers shirts is the friend I mentioned before who worked on THAT WEDDING DRESS. Every time it comes up in conversation she lets slip another interesting fact about the whole process, it's fascinating. Also she kept the secret so well, even when just a week before we had a bet on how long the train would be, Gemma bluffed her way through it. The skills Gemma has from her time at the Royal college of needlework are astounding. Her invisible mending leaves me open mouthed and when we were shopping in China with swan lake she could pick the genuine antique hand embroidery from the machined copies that were mixed in.

So I leave you now with Gemma wrapping the rails as the triple bill was packed up and put away until the next time.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Only the crumbliest

I just wanted to share with you my lovely day out recently at a lavender farm in Kent.  My friend made the suggestion that we dress like the Flake adverts of the 80's. Any excuse to theme an outfit and I'm there!

So replace the sunflowers with lavender and ...

What do you think, does it work? 
I might try the turkish delight look next.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The playboy of the western world

photo from The Old Vic Website

Finally the poster is out and I can share this lovely job. A few weeks ago I was asked to do wardrobe on a photo shoot for London's Old Vic theatre. I have worked at the theatre a few times and blogged about it Here.
The current play is  Richard III with Kevin Spacey in the lead role. It is a stunning production and well worth seeing,  however we are talking about 3 hours of Shakespeare here so not to everyones taste. 
The following production starting in September is an irish play called The playboy of the western world. It dates from 1907 and was quite controversial when first  performed you can read why in an article from the Guardian  here.
This new production has a great cast, Ruth Negga plays Pegeen I saw her as Ophelia in the National's Hamlet some months ago so looking forward to seeing her in this. The amazing Niamh Cusack is Widow Quinn.  The main role is taken by Robert Sheehan the mouthy one from Misfits (a brilliant dark comedy gem of a TV series) As you can see from the poster Robert was the subject. He was so charming and funny and very obliging during the 3 hour shoot in the damp  Old Vic Tunnels. The tunnels are owned by British Rail and hired by The Old Vic for performance space. They have a huge variety of events there and I'm looking forward to going back as a punter one day soon.

blurry iphoto action shot
Robert Sheehan

some alternative pieces

We had a variety of outfits to try, the aim was to have a flavour of the era but not be time specific, the notes from the costume designer were pictures of typical antiheroes like Brando, James Dean and Sid Vicious. All in all it was a really enjoyable way to earn a days pay. I worked on a production of this play at the birmingham Repertory Theatre about 15 years ago and can't wait to see the Old Vic's version.

The final poster
One of the things a regular around London may notice is the common theme among theatre posters. At least 3 long running shows have similar pictures of the back of people, presumably to avoid having to change the poster when the cast change. There does seem to be a standard style for theatre posters. The Old Vic steps away from that and I think when you are traveling down those long tube escalators it pays off as their posters really jump out. Though I am rather biased!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


Apparently John's video was spammed so he has had to take it down. Sorry about that chaps.

Here is the new link it worked a second ago so fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Just a quickie post as I wanted to share something with you. A friend of mine who was in the Mamma Mia cast when I toured it years ago is currently in Priscilla Queen of the desert. He is not only a talented performer but proved to be quite the film maker. He has several videos on you tube and his latest is Priscilla meets Glee. If you have any interest in either show you will find this short film amusing I'm sure. You may find yourself watching his others too. street dance meets ballet is my other favourite.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

New Look style the nation

I had an interesting days work on Saturday at a TV studio in Middlesex. I haven't worked in TV much at all so it is always interesting to me. The programme as the title to this post suggests was New Look style the nation. Myself and a colleague were brought in to help the existing wardrobe team with some quick changes near the end of the programme. Working in a live environment this  is our forte so we were quietly confident that all would go well. There were a lot of stressed out people in headsets but then i suppose that is the nature of live TV. The show did appear to my untrained eyes to go quite well though and everyone seemed happy once it was over. 

The final line up
It is if you haven't seen it a make over show for up and coming stylists. The winner Sara seemed a popular choice amongst the crew and was very profuse with her thanks to all around afterwards which was very nice to see. I have never worked with models before (unless you count Kate Moss's appearance on a Little Britain comic relief show but we swapped a smile and that was it so it doesn't really count does it) They were all very young and gorgeous, quite friendly and jolly too considering the early start. My call was 7.30am but the production team had started at 5am, Ouch!

Ha, thats me leaning on a rail in the background, how professional.

We didn't have to do an awful lot during the show but when our crucial quick changes came we managed very well and the models were ready in plenty of time for there entrance. I really would like to try a bit more TV work and this show gave me a taste for fashion too, I wonder where does London fashion week get its catwalk dressers from ???

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The time just flew by

Well my time at Mamma Mia has finished now, I had a thoroughly interesting time. Every day was different.

When cutting fabrics to send to a costume maker I refereed to a folder they called the Bible to see exactly what fabrics were needed for each piece and how many metres to cut. If there were zips or buttons needed to. This would be sent off with the measurements of the actor to the particular costume maker. Many makers work on the show in studios or a room in their home. Some work alone and some have a team.  Sometimes I would head out to Berwick street or Shepherds Bush to buy fabrics that aren't held in stock. Or to haberdashery shops for trimmings . I visited one lady in an extraordinary shop near Goodge Street called Taylors buttons. I plan to go back one day and take pictures, it is floor to ceiling boxes of buttons and the shop has been in her family for over 100 years. I was eyeing up some 30's looking buttons when she said vintage buyers often go to her looking for replacements.

On some days I was sent out with a shopping list, at first you think great, fresh air and a stroll but when you have a long list, the rain is starting, the tourists are getting in your way, you have to be back in an hour and you can't find what you are looking for, it gets a little frustrating. However when you turn up with the perfect thing and it was a bargain you are quite proud.

At the office along with the store of fabric are rails of costumes from previous productions that are still quite wearable and so will be re-used. I took it upon myself to label all the trousers with their waist size so that the ideal pair could be found easily. I didn't quite get them all done before I left but most of them. It felt good to leave that as my parting gift to my fabulous colleagues.

picture from

So no more Mamma Mia for a while at least. Next thing is a very early start for a TV on saturday morning!
I shall let you know how that goes.