Students’ designs going back in time

Robin Ashley and Gemma Marsh with samples of their costume work
Robin Ashley and Gemma Marsh with samples of their costume work

CREATIVE costume makers have sewn a seed for their futures after working with an international designer at one of the region’s biggest museums.

Cleveland College of Art and Design students Robin Ashley and Gemma Marsh have been helping well-known costumier Luca Costigliolo at Bowes Museum, near Barnard Castle.

Luca, an expert in historical sewing methods, has appeared in BBC2’s Victorian and Edwardian Farm series and is currently creating the wardrobe for Lucretia Borgia, played by actress Holliday Grainger for the TV series The Borgias.

A founder member and teacher at The School of Historical Dress in London, Luca is a costume designer and maker, both for the theatre and opera.

He has worked with The Globe Theatre and English National Opera.

Robin and Gemma have been helping him recreate for the Barnard Castle museum, a dress originally belonging to Josephine Bowes in the 1860s made from the finest silk, specially woven in Como, Italy.

Robin, 29, of Hartlepool, said: “It is quite an honour to have had the chance to work with Luca. He taught us so much about traditional methods. My toughest challenge was the hand-stitching, which was quite a task.

“But I was really pleased when I was asked to do the top stitch, which I took as quite a compliment from Luca about my work.”

The pink silk costume took 10 days to recreate with Robin working on the bodice and Gemma tackling the petticoat and skirt.

The students, who have been studying the FdA costume construction for stage and screen and BA (hons) entertainment design crafts, worked with Luca in full view of the public.

Gemma, 22, of Hartlepool, said: “The way Luca taught us to do hemlines was just amazing. We used a lot of historical techniques and it was done so different from how we do them in modern costumes.

“I can now make patterns and drape a costume and this experience has really given me a taste of what it would be like to be a costume designer, which is definitely what I want to do in the future.”