Madeline Taylor

Academic Assistant, VCA

Creating shared aesthetic language: collaborative mechanisms for costume realisation 

Despite theatre and costume’s constant positioning as an inherently collaborative medium missing in both industry and academic discourse is a rigorous discussion of the collaboration required by costume practice. This research identifies the costume workshop as a location of iterative design development, and that the skill, knowledge and aesthetic understanding of costume technicians crucially contributes to the final costume design. Investigating the collaboration between costume technicians and designers during the realisation process, it argues the technician’s role is one of design interpretation, and that the often-tacit collaborative practices employed to transform an idea or image into a completed costume require both emotional intelligence and creative judgement. Using multi-site ethnographic studies of Australian theatre costume workshops, interviews with industry practitioners, and linguistic and interaction analysis, the research documents and theorises the creative process of costume realisation and the range of collaborative mechanisms currently active in the industry. 

Key terms: costume, collaboration, design research, realisation, interpretation.

Researcher Bio

Madeline Taylor is a costume and performance creator, researcher and educator. Currently a PhD candidate at Victorian College of Arts, University of Melbourne, her research focuses on contemporary costume practice. Other research interests include technical production’s interpersonal dynamics, design movements and alternative modes of engaging with, and displaying, fashion and clothing. With 15 years’ experience she has worked on over 85 productions in theatre, dance, opera, circus, contemporary performance and film around Australia and the UK. In 2010 she completed a research internship at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London under Donatella Barbieri, and in 2011 she completed an honours dissertation at Queensland University of Technology examining changing methods of costume production in Australia. Since then she taught and lectured at QUT in costume, technical theatre and fashion theory.  She is a co-director of fashion and design group The Stitchery Collective and was Australian Editor for the World Scenography Project Vol II – 1990 – 2005. 

Contact Info and Links

ORCID number:  0000-0003-2378-658X