Artist of the Issue: Claire G. ’18 Clothes Three Eras

By, Samantha C. ’19

While some seniors might be taking advantage of the leisurely nature of senior spring, Claire G. ’18 is maximizing her final stretch of high school by taking on a costume design project for her ILE.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Winsor’s Independent Learning Experience (ILE) program, all Winsor seniors work on an off-campus project of their choosing during the final month of school in place of classes.

Although Claire was originally set on finding an ILE that involved fashion design, she decided to focus on costume design because “it took the artistic elements of fashion design that [she] enjoyed and added in an additional reading and research component that made the design process more appealing to [her].”

By the end of her ILE, Claire completed the laudable task of designing all of the costumes for The Lady’s Not for Burning by Christopher Fry, a Shakespearean-esque play that was written in the 1940s but is set in the 1400s. While Claire’s designs won’t be displayed in a formal production of the play, she still had to take all of the same steps that someone designing costumes for a real show would’ve had to accomplish.

Claire’s job not only entailed researching, creating digital sketches with the app Procreate, finding fabric samples, and developing a budget for the costumes, but also considering the influences of multiple distinct time periods: the 1940s, 15th century, and a time period with a style vaguely described as “out of fashion.”

Like any complex project, designing all of the costumes for this production naturally lends itself to some challenges. Claire noted that having to incorporate “three different time periods with three distinct styles” in her costume designs has been one of her biggest challenges. Furthermore, Claire found it difficult to read the text specifically for the characters’ clothing.

“There are direct mentions of the character’s’ appearance, but not nearly enough to form a full image of what the costumes should look like,” explained Claire, so “it has been a challenge to piece together the clues about costumes that are in the text.”

Despite the challenges, Claire’s passion for fashion design and clear artistic ability (if you’ve never seen one of her eye drawings, you’re truly missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience) have undoubtedly set her up for success.

Claire’s favorite aspect of her ILE was “translating [her] play analysis and fashion research into designs.” She elaborated, “In the past, any analysis and research that I have done has culminated in an essay, so I have really enjoyed working toward a new, artistic, final product.”

Although writing research papers does have its obvious learning benefits, Claire’s project proves that research does not always have to coincide with academic obligations; the skills we acquire inside the classroom can have enjoyable applications in the outside world when we allow ourselves to pursue what we’re truly passionate about.