Costume Symposium 2023 - special guest speaker announced

We are thrilled that that Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Yesterday) will be a special guest speaker at the Talks day (Friday 1 September) of the 2023 Costume Symposium at the University of Huddersfield. The day will also feature keynote speaker Academy Award winning costume designer Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris), Lucy Sturley on miniature costuming for animation, a presentation from Screen Yorkshire and a panel discussion about the future of specialist costuming skills, with Liz Garland (UoH) and costume experts Olivier Stockman, Carol Lingwood and Ivo Coveney. Come for the Talks day, a two-day hands-on workshop with experienced tutors (Saturday 2 – Sunday 3 September) or all three days. Places are still available in some workshops – contact us for details.

Jenny Beavan to be keynote speaker

We are delighted to welcome award-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan OBE (Mrs Harris Goes to Paris) as keynote speaker for the talks day at the University of Huddersfield on Friday 1 September 2023. With 12 Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design and three wins, A Room With A View, Mad Max: Fury Road and Cruella, Jenny Beavan also has nine BAFTA Award nominations for Best Costume Design and four wins, A Room With A View, Gosford Park, Mad Max: Fury Road and Cruella, as well as the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Costume Design and a Tony Award nomination for Best Costume Design for the revival of Private Lives.

Other speakers will be confirmed soon. Workshops covering Corsetry, Dyeing and Enhancement, Embroidery Embellishment, Handmade Gloves, Men’s Period Tailoring and Millinery will be held on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September. Registration for Costume Symposium 2023 will open shortly.

Photo: David Lukacs / Ada Films Ltd - Harris S

Costume Symposium 2023 dates and venue

Save the date: the fourth UK Costume Symposium for costume designers, technicians, makers and BA and MA Costume students is heading north and will be held at the University of Huddersfield from Friday 1 – Sunday 3 September 2023, with the usual mix of talks and workshops. Registration opened in June. For a taste of what we do, watch a video of the 2022 symposium at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Costume Symposium 2022

Costume Symposium 2022, which had to be postponed in January 2022, was held at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 September, with a day of talks, including a keynote session from award-winning costume designer Phoebe de Gaye (Killing Eve), a Q & A with actor Miranda Richardson, a panel discussion on how we can promote costume making as a career, a costume demonstration and a presentation from ScreenSkills, followed by two days of hands-on workshops. You can see photos from the event here.

Costume Symposium 2022 was presented in association with ScreenSkills High-end Television Skills Fund.

About Costume Symposium

In 2017 award-winning costume designer Susannah Buxton was invited to speak at a costume symposium for young technicians and designers held at the Opera House in Oslo, Norway.  The experience inspired her to set up a similar event in the UK.  The first UK Costume Symposium was held in London in June 2018, followed by the second at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in 2019, the third at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 2022 and the fourth at the University of Huddersfield in 2023..  There will be further events in other parts of the country.

Why we started

Practices which support costume design, such as millinery, corsetry, embroidery and tailoring, are often taken for granted and the results achieved are rarely acknowledged. Costume Symposium events aim to recognise and demonstrate these extraordinary and in some cases endangered skills, and help maintain the high quality of production in every area of the arts and entertainment industries.

Who Costume Symposium is for

Some of the technicians working in theatre, opera, film and television work at home in relative isolation and on low pay. They often have little chance to see how others work. Costume Symposium events will enable them to share their knowledge and enthusiasm, hear from experienced practitioners and try out new skills.

What we do

The first UK costume symposium for young technicians and designers took place in June 2018. It consisted on a day of talks, with a costume demonstration and panel discussion on training for costume makers, and two days of practical workshops in corsetry, embellishment and patination, handmade gloves, men's period tailoring and millinery. The subsequent events at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Bristol Old Vic Theare School and the University of Huddersfield have had a similar format.

Costume Symposium videos

Here are some taster videos from our talented tutors. Michele Carragher and Toni Bate were tutors at Costume Symposium in 2019 and 2022, and Riina Õun was with us in 2018 and 2022.

Riina Õun, who led a workshop on handmade glove-making at the Costume Symposium at the City and Guilds of London Art School in 2018, demonstrates the technique of stitching the “points” on the back of a leather glove. Riina was one of the workshop tutors at the symposium at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in September 2022 and will be with us again in 2023.

Toni Bate, Course Leader MA Costume Making at LIPA, shows how to cut a period bodice on the stand.  Toni ran a period ladies’ wear pattern cutting workshop at the Costume Symposium at LIPA in 2019 and was the tutor for the Women’s Period Tailoring workshop at the 2022 Costume Symposium.

Embroiderer Michele Carragher (Game of Thrones) shows how she starts creating the embellished beetle design that participants learned how to make during her workshop at the 2019 Costume Symposium in Liverpool. Michele ran her workshop again at the 2022 Costume Symposium in Bristol and will be with us in Huddersfield in 2023.
You can watch videos from the Costume Symposium at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (2022), Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (2019) and the City & Guilds of London Art School (2018) to see what we offer.

Have a look at the video from the third UK Costume Symposium held at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (2 – 4 September 2022) for a taste of the talks and workshops at the symposium.

Watch this video from the second UK Costume Symposium in Liverpool (6-8 September 2019) to see what it’s all about.

Here’s the video from the first UK Costume Symposium in London (15-19 June 2018).

Here’s a trailer for a video from the Crafts Council in which Susannah Buxton talks about her career as a costume designer and why it’s important to share knowledge and experience with designers and makers through events such as Costume Symposium.  To see the whole film visit the link at the end of the trailer and scroll down the Crafts Council page.

Photos from costume symposium 2022

Photos of Costume Symposium 2022 © Andreas Sterzing

Thanks to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund for their support for Costume Symposium 2022.

what participants have said about Costume Symposium

I found the talks really engaging and highly inspirational, especially Tom Pye’s talk, a combination of set design and costume design and how he creates these stunning worlds onstage and in film and television production.

All speakers were extremely well informed and enthusiastic.

Michele (Carragher) was fabulous.  Her attention to detail was outstanding, even in the way she laid out the equipment we would use.  I thought she had planned it really well and the beetle task was complicated enough to challenge us but simple steps to follow to make it feel attainable.

Again a brilliant chance to network.

It was a welcoming atmosphere where everyone felt comfortable to ask questions regarding their millinery pieces and other aspects of millinery and wardrobe and career development.  Sean was always very attentive and patient.

I learnt so many new techniques.

Organisers extremely friendly, welcoming and easy to chat to.  I attended to find out more about the industry and how to get into it and it answered all my needs.  I have since been in touch with ScreenSkills also.

I rarely get the opportunity to mix with other costume workers. Seeing what other people produce and think about is always inspiring.

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