ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: A new society for all costume lovers

Freshers’ week is long gone, and the first week of lectures has slowly but surely come to an end. But the year is still only getting started, and with a new year come new… societies. We’ve picked out a few of them that you might not know about yet – and this week we spoke to Georgia Barden, the founder of the Costume Society, to discuss her inspiration, goals, and to get to know the society a little better.


Why did you decide to start a costume society? Who/what pushed you to do so?

It was sometime around essay deadline week during my second year. I was sitting in Balcony at the Union with some of my friends trying to finish an essay, but obviously procrastinating instead by searching for potential work experience opportunities within costume departments outside of the University. I study History and English, which surprises a lot of people because I am really passionate about costume design and really want to find a career in it someday. I had been contemplating starting my own Costume Society for some time but didn’t really have the confidence to go through with it. While procrastinating, I came across an article online (I haven’t a clue where I found it!) that said something along the lines of: ‘If you can’t find any work experience, make your own’. I turned to my friend Emma and asked her very seriously if she thought that starting a Costume Society was a good idea. She knew that I was into it and so she told me to just go for it!


What were your next steps? How did you go about actually creating the society?

I messaged one friend from Stage Musical Society, Gina, who messaged another of her friends, and it just escalated from there with lots of positive emails and words of encouragement. There was no turning back!

The Performance societies that I contacted were so enthusiastic and that really helped too, as I knew that it was them who I would be eventually working really closely with, so their support was imperative. I searched for potential committee members to join me and found Megan and Libby, both members of Backstage Society and both absolutely amazing! Once I found them, that was it, and we started plans for the year.


As a society, what will you mainly be doing each week? What will your sessions consist of?

We are a little different to most societies. Instead of weekly sessions, we will be working in a very similar way to Backstage Society in that we hope to work closely with other performance societies – the difference being that instead of focusing on lighting, sound and set we will be there to discuss, design and provide the costumes for their shows. This means sessions won’t be weekly but will instead be focused around show dates. However, we do also plan to hold regular sessions for people who wish to be a part of the society because of their love for costume but don’t necessarily want to get involved with shows. These will include sewing sessions, workshops run by members, film nights, and general socials where we can just get together and catch up.


How did you get into costumes/costume making?

I don’t make costumes, but I do design them and have done since I was about five years old. I do have some basic sewing ability as well and have helped out friends who need a hem sewn or a strap tightened here and there! Costume designing has always been a hobby, and something I do to de-stress from work. I then started to become fascinated by costumes in films, TV shows and the theatre. The first thing I look for when I watch a film or television show is what they are wearing, whether it’s accurate, how well it fits in with the rest of the production… I’m one of those avid IMBD researchers, always checking out who the costume designer was and what other productions they have been involved with.


Is there a specific show or film that you’re particularly inspired by in terms of the costume design?

Adam Garcia, Helen Dallimore Miriam Margolyes and Company in the London production of "Wicked" @ Apollo Victoria (opening 27-09-06)©Tristram Kenton 09-06 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355 email:

I’ve seen the show Wicked in London three times purely because the costuming for that show is mind-blowing, and the process they go through every day backstage to make it so is inspiring.

What are you hoping to accomplish this year?

 This year our main priority is to shape a reputation for ourselves within the Union and to start building strong relationships with other Performance societies. We are a collaborative society so without them and their support we cannot exist! We also hope to host events that will grab the attention of potential members – the more team-power we have, the better our costuming can be! We already have a couple of shows that are interested in using us as a resource, including Little Shop of Horrors and Trainspotting, and we are going over scripts for those shows already, so that is really exciting.


Who is this society open to? Who are you encouraging to join?

 The Society is open to absolutely everybody: from the super-keen sewing wizards who make their own clothes all the time to the people who just enjoy a film with cool costumes, this is a perfect society for them. We want open-minded people who are happy just to come along to socials and meet new people (and maybe learn how to cut a pattern or two along the way) just as much as we want people who are willing to dedicate time and effort into a performance. We aren’t just about costumes either – we are also looking for avid hair and make-up members. Costume is about the whole package, everything that brings a character to life on stage. If you don’t really fancy taking part in the costume side of that, but you get a buzz from doing your own hair and make-up before a night out, then put those skills to use by joining us and doing it for other people! The society is the perfect space to learn from fellow members along the way, and people may find they have a talent and a passion for something that they may never have experienced otherwise.


Thanks, Georgia! So, are you a sewing wizard, a hair and make-up guru or just someone who appreciates a great costume? It’s never too late to join a new society.  Visit their Facebook page for more information!


Bea Warleta

(Images: courtesy of Lucy Gorman, and

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