Dr Jade Halbert and Dr Veronica Isaac (University of Brighton) are working together to organise Constructing Costume Histories, a research project which showcases the crucial contribution of costume makers to the history and ‘histories’ of costume and dress.

Our inaugural event on Friday 30th April, is an online symposium comprising six papers from a range of academics, costume makers, and post-graduate researchers. The keynote paper will be delivered by the Principal of the School of Historical Dress, Jenny Tiramani and a full programme will follow soon.

Tickets are free but limited, book now!

Our second event, an in-person study day, will take place at the University of Huddersfield on Friday 24th September. Here, our symposium speakers will bring their methodologies and practices to life through innovative and interactive maker-centred presentations. Attendees will also have the opportunity to engage directly with objects and methods of reconstruction and remaking. Tickets for this event will be available in due course.

Through these events (and those which will follow), Constructing Costume Histories, will bring a new dimension to our understanding of costume, construction, and makers within the context of dress and theatre history. Uniting expertise from the lecture theatre, the workroom, and the wardrobe, the project will initiate and celebrate new avenues within interdisciplinary approaches to costume and dress history.

Our Aims and Objectives are:

  • To spotlight hitherto marginalised research into the history and practice of costume construction and to engage with – and showcase – the work of established and emerging scholars in this endeavour
  • To cement the position of costume makers as contributors to this dialogue and history by providing a forum for, and celebrating, their work and research
  • To highlight the specific insights costume makers can bring to wider research into dress history
  • Through this, to provide an explicit and formalised discussion of the part costume makers play as figures within, and documenters of, dress and costume history


11.00 - 11.15am Introduction and welcome
11.15 - 11.45am Rebecca Morrison, QMUL

And Dresses by Miss Rein

11.45am - 12.15pm Liz Garland, University of Huddersfield In the Eye of the Deceiver
12.15 - 12.45pm Amy Hare, UAL Wimbledon Corsets, Crinolines and Modernity: The Enduring Legacy of Jeanette Cochrane, Norah Waugh, Margaret Woodward and the Central School of Art
12.45 - 1.00pm Reflection on morning session
1.00 - 2.00pm Lunch
2.00 - 2.15pm Introduction and welcome to afternoon session
2.15 - 2.45pm Toni Bate, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) Open to Interpretation: the Reconstruction of Historical Theatrical Costume
2.45 - 3.15pm Stephanie Blythman, Independent Contact tracing: finding the networks between actors, textile merchants, and tailors in 17th Century Paris
3.15 - 3.30pm Tea break
3.30 - 4.30pm Keynote: Jenny Tiramani, The School of Historical Dress A Quest for the Holy Grain via the Land of Serendip
4.30 - 5.00pm Questions for Jenny and closing remarks