Pillaton WI Report - January 2014

Tales of a Wardrobe Mistress

The very interesting January meeting was Wendy Thompson with the ‘Tales of a Wardrobe Mistress.’

Wendy and her husband live in Menheniot where they are very involved in the amateur productions in this village. Wendy is in charge of the many costumes and her husband is a thespian.

These productions started in 1984 when Wendy was a member of the parents association at their children’s school and there was a need to raise money. (Nothing has changed!) So the Completely Amateur Menheniot Parents (CAMP) group was born and is still running. However as the children are now adults the group has now become CAM Players. Every year they produce a play and a pantomime. This means that many costumes of different styles, colours and shapes are required.

Wendy who has extensive experience in dress design, pattern making and dress making explained that there is a science to costumes. Theatrically they have to be ‘just right’ and cheap! She also said, and ladies take note (!) that foundation is ‘everything.’ Apparently when we see someone walking towards us we recognise their shape first of all before recognising their face. Interesting indeed!

Apparently too it is very important to get the right look for the relevant era. For example we might think that a poor servant girl in Victorian days might only wear one petticoat. But it seems not. However poor, they tried to wear as many as were fashionable at the time.

Wendy demonstrated her skills by showing us a number of beautiful and colourful costumes made by her. One that she said was ‘on the cheap’ was a dress for a princess, the basis of which was furnishing fabric from Trago. Then there was the Fairy Foxglove costume where the dress was a combination of green and that very stunning foxglove colour.

She explained too, that hats are important as they define the era. We don’t wear them much now, so I wonder how this current era will be defined in the future.

She left us with the thought that although the Director thinks that the acting is the most important aspect of the show, in her view it is the costumes that rank highest as acting interferes with the costumes!

A vote of thanks was given by Greta who emphasised what a talented person Wendy is and that once again it is the old adage, if you want something done ask a busy person!

Pam Lowther

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Last updated: 9 April 2014 Contact Us