Working with a ghost designer

The last few jobs have been a real learning curve as I have been working without a designer. Let's start with Things I Know to be True....this was a re-mount of a show that had been previously put on in Australia, but with all new English cast. The lovely theatre sent over all the existing costume, but inevitably there were some things that the producers wanted to tweak, and some of our new actors didn't fit into the existing costumes. Mostly it was fine, I managed to find like for like, but the main character Rosie has to do several lifts, and originally she was in a dress which wasn't the most practical. I had been asked to change it but with a designer only available by email on the other side of the world suddenly I was the one making the on the spot decisions! I had always thought that I would know which choice a designer would make, but here I was in a quandary! We thought it was all sorted until the directors suddenly realised that it was covered in roses....her name was Rosie and there were rose bushes in the set design!! Plan B then was an emergency next day delivery situation and coming to the end of summer, playsuits were fast vanishing and now I was on my own - the time difference meant I wouldn't get to check in with the Australian designer until after we were well on our way to opening night. Again a choice was made but I was worried it was too brightly coloured.

In the end I was pleased with how it looked but it re-iterated to me that the role of a designer and supervisor is very different, and I think I had forgotten that.

With the Bear Grylls' show the costumes were very much dictated by historic reference, so again there was no designer to work with, and this only became an issue when I had to make a decision on what fabric to make the space suit out's a technical garment but in some pictures it looks just like a satin and if we had gone ahead with that I think we would have ended up with a costume that looked like a costume! Instead, I just happened to be meeting a friend of mine for lunch on the day that I was doing some extra sampling and ultimately buying, and she just so happens to be a designer (!) so we put our heads together and her designer head helped make the decision. The space suit was a particularly difficult thing to get right, based on actual photographic evidence but a designer has to make these decisions all the time, and all I do is offer them some options! Next time I'll actually try to name the fabrics I think will get chosen and see if I get it right!

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