Skip to main content Go to Site Map
A group of people facing away from the camera pointing at their black shirts which read 'crew'.

Rosie Maddox – "Through BA (Hons) Costume, I found my calling in costume supervision"


  • Student Journal
  • |
  • Costume


I came to AUB to study costume making; however, through the BA (Hons) Costume course, I found my particular calling in costume supervision, a backstage world of costume I had never even considered before. If you’re interested in costume, there’s no doubt you understand the roles of a costume designer and a costume maker, but the realm of supervision might be a bit more of a mystery to you, as it was to me.

A costume supervisor primarily uses organisation and research skills to help realise the work of a designer. They're the hidden middleman between maker and designer – an essential job for both theatre and film. What I love about supervision is the unpredictability of the role. One job might have you searching through a costume hire house, trying on fun hats and looking through incredible costumes. Another may have you working side by side with costume makers, picking out fabrics and buttons to perfectly capture the essence of the designs.

At AUB, once you reach third year of BA (Hons) Costume, you get the amazing opportunity to work on an AUB Productions show, either as maker or supervisor. Last term, I worked on the "made" show, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, as an assistant costume supervisor. This meant I still got to work with my friends as they made the costumes, but I also got to collaborate with a whole cast of actors, as well as BA (Hons) Make-up for Media and Performance students. The chance to work on a show was like nothing else I had worked on before. The stakes are real, the costumes matter and the show must go on as they say. We needed fittings, to check the costumes worked and see what needed altering, we needed to source certain items or commission other students to help make items like bonnets.

Although using excel and organisation skills was a bit daunting, as well as actually being in control of the university’s money, this project was so exciting and watching a show I helped happen was incredibly rewarding.

This spring, I got the chance to be the lead costume supervisor for The Ballad of Maria Marten, directed by the amazing Luke Kernaghan. Wow. This show was the pivotal point in my university career and what has made me realise that maybe I am cut out for this after all!

This show was different from my last, as it was a "sourced" show. This meant we didn’t have a whole team of makers, and instead had to find and source all the costumes ourselves. I myself had an assistant supervisor, as well as a Head of Running Wardrobe, who looks after all the costumes once they have been sourced. To do this show, I worked intimately with the designer. We visited hire houses; we looked through the amazing selection of costumes the University owns at their Elliot Road warehouse, and went online to find the remainder of what we needed. Looking after the budget, scheduling the actors for fittings and monitoring the dress runs meant that I was very busy, but it was so exciting to feel like I was helping to make something great. The development from the original designs to what we put on the stage was vast, showing how much a show can flow and change throughout the process. My previous sewing skills were not forgotten, as I got to alter and create items for the show, as well as getting to use the dye room to dye and breakdown (muddy and bloody) some pieces. It was the most creative and exciting project I have ever worked on, and it has filled me with so much enthusiasm for costume supervision.

This summer term, I am lucky enough to be working on another show, AUB Productions' A Midsummer Night’s Dream, working as the Head of Running Wardrobe. After doing this show, I will have experienced each of the different job aspects of supervision: supervisor, assistant supervisor, breakdown artist, dresser and Head of Running Wardrobe. Overall, what I like about this job is the opportunity to collaborate with other departments and how much variation you get. Each job role, and each show, is vastly different. It is an amazing career to consider if you are interested in the world of costume.

Something to think about

If you liked this post you might be interested in BA (Hons) Costume

Explore Categories