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.

Steve said: "Placements involve all sorts of different work and give the students lots of transferable skills for when they go out look for jobs.’’

Rosie Lorenz, 22, spent a year out in a number of work placements. She worked on the BBC 3 production Frankenstein’s Wedding and with the Huddersfield-based Mikron Theatre Company.

Her experiences have convinced her that she’d like to pursue a career as a costume supervisor, working on sets. Rosie’s graduate collection was based on The Snow Queen.

Another Andersen fairytale, The Little Mermaid, was the inspiration for Emma Brackenbury’s outfits, including a tentacled dress. Emma, 24, says her work placements at the BBC in Leeds and West Yorkshire Playhouse among others have shown her that she’d like to be a costume maker rather than designer.

One of the purposes of the year out is to help students find a niche. Those who didn’t take a year placement during their studies are now looking for work experience.

Catherine Winstanley, 22, completed her degree after a foundation course without taking a placement year. She is now hoping to get a place on the BBC’s costume training scheme.

She said: "Having a foundation year was really useful for me because I found out what I wanted to do at university. I was always interested in art and design and fashion but hadn’t thought about which direction I would go in."

Her collection is also based on The Snow Queen, by Andersen. The story is her personal favourite and she chose to focus on the contrast between extreme beauty and extreme cruelty.

All graduate collections will be seen in the costume show at the Lawrence Batley Theatre on Thursday, June 21.

Make-up and hair for the show will be provided by a team from Leeds City College Huddersfield hair salon The Vinery. Make-up for our photoshoot was by Karla Briggs.

Tickets for the show on June 21are available from the university’s online shop at