Opera North Blog

Costume goes digital


Costume making in the digital age… We caught up with our Head of Costume and Wigs Stephen Rodwell, who gave us a glimpse into some of the latest techniques we have used this Little Greats season, particularly to recreate vintage prints.

"Traditionally, a costume designer would supply a design, and we would then go shopping to try and source clothing or fabric which most closely represented the print of the design. If the print required was a very specific vintage print, this could be difficult to find, and expensive to get hold of.

This season, we have been using Hatley Print, a digital fabric printing organisation for theatre, opera and film. Hatley Print are able to exactly reproduce original prints digitally on any fabric required (particularly prints from the 1930s, 40s and 50s), making the possibilities endless."

— Stephen Rodwell, Head of Costume and Wigs​

This technique, we found out, was particularly valuable when creating Dinah’s ‘Island Magic’ costume for Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti (designed by Hannah Clark). This dress, for the number in which Dinah recounts the movie she has seen, ‘Trouble in Tahiti’, and casts herself as the leading lady of a Hollywood film, features a distinctive tropical 1950s print. We got a sneak preview of the dress when we popped into Wallis Giunta’s costume fitting… 

Here’s another sneak peek — this intricately embroidered waistcoat below, provided by Darcy Clothing, is actually no such thing! It has been digitally printed and looks, even at very close range, completely authentic. When costumes are digitally printed in bulk, they become much cheaper to produce than sourcing and purchasing multiple waistcoats. Fooled? So were we! 

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