Costume Construction: Carrie Ann Stein shares her story of life after university
My name is Carrie-Ann Stein, I am 46-years-old, I studied at Costume Construction BA (Hons) at University Centre South Essex from 2016 until 2019 and this is my story.
I trained in law and then changed my career to study BA (Hons) Fashion Design with Knit at Central Saint Martins.
Before the pandemic closed the theatre industry, I was working as a set and costume designer but now I am studying fine art at the Royal College of Art. It is a pre-master's course in fine art in preparation for a Master’s degree.
I was able to undertake two internships with the Royal Opera House during my degree and my tutors were instrumental in organising additional placements at Grange Park Opera and the National Theatre.
Learning how to make a garment to a professional standard was the most valuable skill because it not only taught me practical employable skills but also how to collaborate and work with a wide range of people from performers to production directors.
The equipment in the university studio reflected the industry standard, namely the sewing machines, overlockers, industrial irons, draping stands, enormous pattern cutting tables and great stock of bolts of fabric and haberdashery.
I found that during my time, the tutors and students were especially generous with their knowledge, and they were fun and inspiring to be around.
The course set me up very well for a career in the theatre industry because of its remarkable combination of practical training, collaboration and direct theatre experience.
2019 was a very good year for me professionally. I won the Costume Society Award; the Royal Opera House Design Prize; and I was a finalist of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design which led to a bursary to work on the set design of a production at the Royal Opera House (although this was later cancelled due to the pandemic.)
My time at the university has been instrumental in building narrative skills and helping to compose a scene of characters in a setting. The practical garment- making component of the course has become a unique part of my fine art methodology influencing how I construct an image.
All of this has led to me to an offer to study a Master's in fine art print at the Royal College of Art, which I will be starting in September 2022.
For more information on the Costume Construction course, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/costume-construction-ba-hons