Optimism

Costume Designer and Maker

My final assessment at the VCA was to design and create a response to one of two texts. Our choices of texts were Candide, the libretto based on Voltaire’s novel or Optimism, its contemporary Australian adaptation, written by Tom Wright. I chose the latter and developed a concept for the main character’s costume that I had to construct.

Candide beginning his journey

How Candide looked at the end of the play

Our final pieces would be on display as part of a final exhibition, so we created exhibition labels to explain our work. Below is mine.

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I had a lot of fun with this idea and it also created a great opportunity for me to create men’s clothing from scratch. I made two identical all white costumes [consisting of shirts, jackets and trousers] in order to show how the costume would look at the beginning and the end of the play.

Sustainability is incredibly important to me, so I wanted to challenge myself to only used reclaimed materials for this piece. I did a lot of op shop sourcing and looking through remnant bins and found all of my materials [besides the trouser zips] from remnants. I was incredibly blessed to find matching whites and also, I found some interesting materials such as the sheer, white nylon that brought a unique textural element to the costume. Using reclaimed fabric also created an extra challenge in that I found exactly the amount of material I needed for both costumes, so I had to make everything correctly or there was a risk I may not have been able to find another match.

 
 

An important component of the costume was when we distressed the costume. As part of my concept, I plotted out various points in the play in which Candide is ‘coloured in’ by characters and situations on his journey. Then, after a lot of planning, my family and I spent an hour covering my partner in paint, spices and glitter in the specific order that the play dictates. We had to compete with the wind but thankfully Ed was incredibly tolerant and looked fantastic afterwards.

 
 

I’m really proud of this piece and think this would be a really fun performance to bring to life. It definitely improved my pattern making and clothing construction skills and was a really enjoyable process.