Salford student's breathtaking garment in running for international prize

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

A University of Salford student is in the running for an international costume award for her breathtaking garment which is inspired by famous novelist Daniel Defoe's Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress.

Olivia Gallamore, a second-year BA Costume Design student from Kidderminster, is a shortlisted finalist in The Costume Society's 2024 Patterns for Performance Award. 

The prestigious prize, launched in 2019, calls on students from all around the world to design a period garment for a character in a performance, inspired by the pattern work of the late influential costume designers and dress historians Janet Arnold and Norah Waugh. The winner receives an award of £800.

Olivia's striking creation is a dress designed to be worn by Roxana, the protagonist from Defoe's final fiction novel from 1724, who goes from being a 'virtuous woman to the deceptive mistress of a sequence of wealthy men'. The dress is worn by Roxana as she returns to London to attend a masquerade ball where she dances with the King. 

She said: "It's not quite hit me yet that I've been shortlisted! I was looking for something to push me out of my comfort zone at the time and then it all came together when my lecturer, Caroline Devonport, mentioned to me about this opportunity that I could do outside of the course.

"I sent off the original toile and designs in January and thought nothing further about it other than that I was very proud. I then heard back that I had been shortlisted and instantly got to working on the final garment and pulling together the required two films that showcase it on stage and also show how it was created."

To pull the films together, Olivia has been working with members of the University's Dance society to showcase her Roxana dancing alone and with the King in a performance in Peel Hall. 

The final garment and films need to be sent off to the Society before June 1 and Olivia will then head down to London for the awards in July, with entrants judged by BAFTA Award & Emmy Award-winning costume designer Michelle Clapton, who has produced garments for Game of Thrones and The Crown.

Olivia is hopeful of a career in professional costume design following the completion of her degree. She said: "When I started looking at practical design courses, I found the course at Salford and never looked back. I would love to work in costume design for film and television.

"For me, it's all about shaping the characters and the world that they're in. I love doing the research for the characters and then thinking about the budget and timescale, before starting the design. It's fun to do the more flamboyant period costumes but I love also crafting garments that are all about small details as well."

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