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Creating a costume design career!

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Mila is a year 1 student who successfully received the Long Road Scholars’ Award in October 2020 after joining Long Road in September 2020. Mila’s career goal is to work in costumer production; today they are telling us all about this passion!

Initially, I wanted to be a paramedic however I swiftly dismantled that life plan as I found out I was in fact squeamish whilst watching ‘Operation Ouch’. If you don’t know it, look it up, it’s a banger.

I wouldn’t call myself a costume designer or a costume maker, I mostly just stick to ‘I make costumes’. I didn’t know for certain that I liked doing costumes until I actually started making things for productions and working with a team. (Yes even the actors. Most of the time!) As much as I love making things by myself in my room listening to podcasts when you do that you don’t get the anticipation for the under-rehearsed opening scene, you don’t see the lights go up and the curtains get pulled aside and to be entirely honest with you, that what made me fall in love with making costumes.

I’ve done a range of productions, somewhere I picked out costumes and some of which I made costumes from scratch which I prefer by far. I find it so satisfying to have finished a whole set of clothes that you know you’ve worked for. I find the entire journey of making something to watching it be worn so rewarding even if it does get ripped approximately two seconds in.

My most memorable production was an adaptation of ‘Inspector Calls’ performed by a year 10 cast. The terrifying yet brilliant drama teacher wanted paper costumes that break throughout the performance to illustrate a metaphor of weak outward image due to the twisted views of the upper class. This was performed three times so I spent the next two nights fixing these tatty paper costumes with nothing but staples, tape and desperation.

During lockdown, I found myself making a ball gown out of the only things that were available to me. Bedsheets and curtains. And honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t a total disaster. That was probably the thing I’ve had the most fun with so far because I could do whatever I want because it was for me I couldn’t ruin it. I can’t really tell you when I decided to make the ballgown or even do costume in general, to be honest.

I just kind of mentally looked it up and down and thought, ‘This looks near impossible, let’s waste some of your time on that!’ And now I’m studying textiles and have too many books on Costume History. Ideally, I’d like to embrace a life of being broke whilst making almost historically accurate costumes for theatre productions and maybe an odd film. How I’m going to do that is a mystery. I’ll probably wave a portfolio at them and rely on my unstoppable charm to do the rest. Hasn’t failed me yet.Though in all seriousness, I would consider myself at the very least satisfied if I had a job that enabled me to construct costumes or theatrical garments that are used in any kind of performance.