They are the theatrical costume designers of tomorrow – graduates from the University of Huddersfield’s costume with textiles course. And they’ll be parading their highly imaginative creations at their final collection show on that most magical of evenings, Midsummer’s Night, one week today. HILARIE STELFOX reports
INSPIRED by everything from a Terry Pratchett novel to Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, the costumes to be seen on the catwalk at a university show next week will tell many tales.
They are the work of 23 final-year BA Hons Costume with Textiles students at the University of Huddersfield.
Asked to create outfits for characters from novels, films, ballets or operas – of their choice – the students allowed their imaginations to run wild.
Some chose their favourite stories while others looked for inspiration from classics such as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen or the Gothic horror of Dracula. One chose to create costumes for characters from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and another from science fiction novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.
Their finished garments represent hours of painstaking work.
Steve Harrington-Simpson, course leader for costume at the university, said: "They can choose a book, a film, a theatre piece, whatever they wanted.
"But the most important thing is that they analyse the character they are designing for."
Although many universities offer costume courses, Huddersfield is unusual in offering a combined costume with textiles option.
It is this that attracts many students and may be the reason why the increase in tuition fees for next year has not affected applications.
"The new fees have not made a difference to us although we thought it might," said Steve.
Melissa Panton, 21, says the course appealed to her because she has a strong interest in textiles and would like to become a textile designer.
Her 1950s-styled collection, based on The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, included printed fabrics inspired by modern and vintage toys.
Steve said: "Being able to make their own fabrics is something they can do and is a big advantage."
Huddersfield’s fashion and design courses also have strong links with business and industry – another selling point to students.
"Nineteen students this year have gone on placement and 15 last year," said Steve. "They have had some very prestigious placements in film, TV and dance."
The list of placements includes television productions such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Holby City and The Royal while students have also been fortunate to work on a number of big budget films – The King’s Speech, The Kill List, Jack the Giant Killer and Wrath of the Titans. Students have also been placed at institutions around the country and abroad, including the Manchester Royal Exchange, National Theatre, English National Opera, Opera Australia, Glyndebourne Opera, Northern Ballet, Scottish Ballet and the design houses of Zandra Rhodes and Alexander McQueen.