Blog

MEET THE COSTUME DESIGNER

25.10.13

The Royal Opera House was the beautiful setting for our autumn/winter 2013 campaign. Acting as the perfect back drop for our collection, we couldn't wait to step behind-the-scenes and explore further. So, we spoke to Fay Fullerton MBE, Acting Head of Costume at ROH, about her amazing career and life backstage working on spectacular costumes.

How long have you worked as Head of Costume for the Royal Opera House?

I began working in the costume department at ROH in 1977. In 1998 I was made Head of Production Costume and then in 2013 I was made Head of Costume.

How did you get into your job?

I started off studying at the London College of Fashion. My first job was at the Royal Opera House as a Junior Costumier and my career took off from there.

Describe a typical day for you.

There's no such thing as a typical day at the Royal Opera House. My job varies so much on a daily basis and my responsibilities involve budgeting, managing the costume designers, acting as a costume supervisor, overseeing permanent and casual staff, quality control, attending meetings, attending rehearsals and occasionally being present at some of the performances.

What’s special about working at the Royal Opera House?

The Royal Opera House is the only theatre in the UK with such a wide and varied repertoire of both ballet and opera, which makes every day really special.

How many people work in your team?

The team size changes from production to production, depending on needs, but you might be surprised to know that the average number would be between 110-120 people. I oversee a broad range of departments each with their own smaller teams including; hats & jewellery, the women's and men's workrooms, the dye department, the fabric library, designers, head cutters, tailors, stockroom managers and costume supervisors, who all make up a vibrant team of professionals. It's great working with such dedicated individuals all under one roof.

On average, how many man-hours go into the costumes for a production?

It depends on the size of the production - it can vary from about 50 hours to thousands of hours and everything in-between!

Tell us a pinnacle moment in your career so far?

It has to be getting my MBE in 2010 for 'services to dance and opera'.

Of all the productions you’ve worked on do you have a favourite?

No, not really. Each production is so incredibly different, so it would be impossible to pick an overall favourite.

If you weren't Head of Costume what would you like to be?

I only ever wanted to work in the costume department in a theatre so it's hard to imagine doing anything else.

Enter now for your chance to WIN a luxury weekend break for two and tickets to see The Royal Ballet's production of The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House.