Project description

For my graduate projects I wanted to show a wide range of skills across the two costumes I chose to create, as well a strong visual contrast between the two of them.

The Sugar-Plum Fairy is the very essence of ‘sugar, spice and all things nice’, topped with excessive ruffles, beads and adornment. This costume features a hand-crafted elastic lattice and mesh bodysuit, a body of fabric created using layers of cationic chiffon, glitter tulle and taffeta to achieve a ‘magical’ feel to the character. It’s topped off with matching beaded pointe shoes and a wire Pearl and crystal tiara. 

For my costume of Grenouille, I wanted to resonate the dark trait present within serial-killers where they ‘collect’ either pieces of their victims or their possessions. Therefore, I created breeches adorned with 5 kilograms of hair extensions, as well as a hand-embroidered shirt with patterns made to resemble cells and skin. The coat has breakdown techniques featured within it to resemble a bloody ribcage, and there are elements of beading that are there to resonate strings of flesh. The outfit is complete with a manually machine embroidered cravat.

The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman

My interpretation of the classical story of ‘The Nutcracker’ has been designed with the concept of it being a fresh take on the world-renowned ballet that takes  place around the world. Having read the original story and researched its origins, I decided to inspire my designs by the 1810s - that time-period being the publishing date of the story. Despite it being originally set in Germany, I really loved the beauty Tchaikovsky’s music brings to the ballet performances therefore I decided to use Russia as a key theme in my design research through its winter-scapes, traditional clothing and rich embroidery. As well deciding on these key influences for this project, I also wanted to incorporate my passion of haute couture  into my work, using the unconventional shapes and alluring designs to bring a modern and fresh take on classic ballet costumes. After establishing the ideas I was going to use for the cuts and silhouettes of my work, I wanted there to be a definite colour palette that I would use across the production. I was very drawn to the collection by Alexander McQueen; ‘Resort 2019’. It has elements of folk/embroidered textiles combined with strong cut shapes, which is exactly what I was looking to do within my design work, therefore I went with the decision of the collection’s colour palette of red, white and black as part of my concept. The Sugar-Plum Fairy is however the only character in the line-up that features different colours; I made this decision based on the importance of her dance and the visual impact the colour would create on stage when she dances on.

Sugar Plum Fairy Full View photographed by Sandy Butler expand
Sugar Plum Initial Drawings
Sugar-Plum Development
Sugar-Plum Final Design
Final Line-Up
Perfume - The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

My interpretation of the ‘Perfume - The Story of a Murderer’ by Patrick Süskind is for it to be produced as an immersive theatre production allowing the audience to fully interact with the story, as well as having their senses taunted and played with, giving them a sense of discomfort. The way I’ve approached the design of this piece is by going through the design process with the consideration of still wanting a prominent reference to the fashions of 18th Century France, as it is a main element within the story that the characters interact with. However, as Grenouille sees the world with his sense of smell rather than his sight, I decided to only inspire the costumes by the styles and cuts of the 1700s, influencing them with the fashion choices worn by Lady Gaga and the couture elements present within Paris Fashion Week as well as the Met Gala. I chose Lady Gaga as inspiration due to her fearless, bold and warped fashion choices that often showcase a mash-up of unique textiles, which is something I wanted present within my work. As well as the visual aspect of her influence, I thought there was a real connection with the way she isn’t afraid to show more of herself - much like some of the revealing fashions within the French court in the 1700s. As Grenouille focuses on smell more than any of his other senses, it made sense to infuse the historically researched clothing with modern and unusual silhouettes - so although they appear dated there is a real depth to the textiles and styles within them.

Grenouille Front View photographed by Sandy Butler expand
Grenouille Initial Drawings
Grenouille Development
Grenouille Final Design expand
Perfume Final Line-Up expand
Video of Costumes
Skills & Experience
  • Hand Embroidery & Beading
  • Breakdown
  • Construction-based Knowledge
  • Intricate Fabric Manipulation
Junk Kouture 2015
Junk Kouture 2016
Second Year

Aleksandra Skowyra

The Nutcracker & Perfume - The Story of a Murderer