College of Liberal Arts

- University of Mississippi

Lights, Camera, Action and Costumes

by Chandler Clarkson, Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian
April 10, 2014

Stephanie Shaw

Stephanie Shaw

“Lights, camera, action!”

The audience in the theater is enthralled by the scenery, characters, lighting and most noticeably, the costumes.

Stephanie Shaw, Instructional Assistant Professor of Costume Technology at The University of Mississippi, can sit back and look at some of her and her student’s ideas and creations.

Whether students in her classes are constructing character costumes for the next play on the UM campus or have dreams of becoming the next fashion designer, the costume and design classes at UM offer valuable skills and experiences.

From sketches to sewing and then to fittings, the costume and design department of the theater department crosses over into the fashionable world of runway design, the major UM lacks.

“It is close to fashion in that we both dress people, we build for people and we are creating a character. We are creating a design around an idea which fashion does as well,” Shaw said of the costume and design technology classes.

Senior Jeffery Peavy is studying costume and design technology on his way to hopefully one day become a fashion designer. With his inspiration from famous designers like Versace, he says UM has offered him the skills to proceed onto an ambitious master’s degree in cities like Chicago or New York City.

“Costume design is a really cool major and it is related to fashion because you study so much fashion history” Peavy said.

With the artistry Peavy has learned in his costume classes, he feels confident about his future as a designer. He said he is “definitely ready to design” from his experience in portfolio reviews and his responsibility as the costume coordinator for Mississippi: The Dance Company.

Ginny Luckie, a junior theatre arts minor, took Introduction to Costumes with Shaw. She was required to work 40 hours in the costume shop during the semester. Her time was spent sewing, washing clothes, organizing and cleaning.

“It was not an easy class, but I did learn a lot,” Luckie said.

With Oxford so in touch with the trends and style, it is hard to believe the university does not offer a fashion marketing or design major.

Shaw said that the theater department does their best to match the students with the most relevant courses, ones that overlap with fashion design.

The University of Mississippi Department of Theatre Arts is always offering other opportunities to the students whose true desire is fashion, not theatre costumes. Experiences like designing for the yearly University of Mississippi Eco-Fashion Show during Green Week, this year headed by Peavy, are always available. Shaw said that the most important aspect to becoming a designer is “to put effort into it.”

“I am using my skills I have learned in costume design and technology to help me do that job,” Peavy said of the Eco-Fashion Show.

Shaw said the theater professors are always encouraging the hopeful fashion designers to pursue a summer job or internship in fashion and design. Students often work on various productions during the school year as well that are not specifically through the theatre department.

“You know, it’s not going to land in your lap. You have to work for your own future,” Shaw said.

The theater department works closely with other departments, such as art and music.

“The cinema department is doing a lot with coordinating with history and English,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the most important advice she can give to fashion or costumes designers is to “keep drawing.”

Future fashion designers can keep their Rebel pride and stay located in Oxford with the costumes and design technology courses offered through the department. From summer internships or events like the UM Eco-Fashion Show this spring, students can showcase their design talents in other ways. Keep your pencil in hand and work hard, Shaw said.