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Costume in Action

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Research Symposium 4: Digital Costume

Thurs 12 Sept 11.30 - 13.00
Studio 1

Research Symposium 4: Digital Costume

The speakers discussed the opportunities offered by new technologies to costume practice and theory and also reflected on the challenges that these pose to the workers in the field at every level.

1. Giulia Pecorari: Digital technology as new material in costume design.

Giulia Pecorari’s presentation was about how costume becomes closer to a piece of art or a performance in itself through engagement with digital technology and through materiality, thus allowing the costume and performer to become an extension of each other.

 2. Roma Patel: The Digital Embodied: interactivity and smart materials

The significant advances in the developments of integrated digital technologies in textiles for creating natural interfaces can potentially transform the expressive nature of design for costume and scenography. This talk addressed the nature of interactive and smart materials and how these can inspire theatre makers to create tactile, digital sensorial spaces and costumes that can initiate active engagement and co-creativity in live theatrical performance. Roma discussed the technical issues, research innovations and key challenges for future application and integration of these technologies within a traditional theatre practices.

3. Chrisi Karvonides: Creating HBO’s Big Love costumes falling from celestial heaven.

Costume must not only tell the story, but aid and advance the technology inside and around it. Chrisi Karvonides adapted previous TV and film experience as a costume designer to the technological challenges of dropping actors from a multitude of heights while filming at 1000 frames per second. Beyond the collaboration process with performer, cinematography and direction, the challenges to make the air-born clothes fly, spin and fall are emblematic of the complexity of the role of costume in performance.

Chair: Sofia Pantouvaki

Price: £6

Image: Ni Una Mas by Nerina Cocchi, 2012. Costume by Giulia Pecorari, photo by Andrea Messana.

Key contributors

Giulia Pecorari

Giulia Pecorari’s work explores the relationship between the performer’s movement and the costume. Her work is a constant experimentation of materials and techniques in order to create unique sculptural shapes and transformations in her costumes. Since graduating from the MA in Costume Design at London College of Fashion and from the BA Pattern Making at Polimoda, Italy, she has worked as a freelance costume designer, costume maker and assistant for several dance/theatre companies and film productions in Italy, UK and Netherlands. She currently works for one of the leading fashion technology companies in London as their lead costume integration manager.


Roma Patel

Roma Patel is a scenographer who makes work for site-specific performance, theatre and digital installations. Her designs for the site-specific production of the Tempest can be found in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Theatre Museum since 2008 and she is the principal researcher for the team that was recently awarded ‘R&D Digital Fund for the Arts’ to investigate how scenography and theatre can influence storytelling in augmented reality (AR) funded by NESTA, Arts & Humanities Research Council and the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Roma is also a lecturer on Theatre Design course at Nottingham Trent University.


Chrisi Karvonides

Chrisi Karvonides received her MFA in Theater Design from Yale School of Drama.  She has over twenty-five years experience as a professional costume designer in theater, film and television. In 2003, she received an Emmy for American Dreams, for “Outstanding Costume Design for a Television Series.” Other Emmy nominations include American Horror Story. From the Earth to the Moon, produced by Tom Hanks, and Carnivàle. Feature films include The Glass House, Beautiful and Loss of a Teardrop Diamond and on Broadway, Chrisi designed the costumes of August Wilson’s production Two Trains Running. Currently she is a Full Professor of Costume Design at UCLA’s school of Theater Film and Television and is designing the costumes for a new HBO series Getting On.


Sofia Pantouvaki

Sofia Pantouvaki, Ph.D., is a scenographer and Professor of Costume Design at Aalto University, Finland. Her design credits include over 60 theatre, opera and dance productions in Greece, Italy, UK, Cyprus and Finland. Her research comprises The effects of theatrical storytelling and scenography on children: The case of children’s theatre in the ghetto of Terezín. Co-author of History of Dress – The Western World and Greece (2010) and co-editor of Presence and Absence: The Performing Body (in press), Sofia has taught, lectured and published internationally.