My graduate projects are both retellings of classic literary works, Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography, realised as contemporary, sculptural and dramatic stage performances. Devising a strong concept is central to my identity as a designer; I believe all good design originates here. My process begins with an extensive understanding of the source material, which I reinvent in producing modern, individual and impactful productions.

Graduate Costume Film

A short film of my final costumes, shot and edited by Sandy Butler

Marta Skowyra as Lady Macbeth 

Eva Mackie as Orlando


Shakespeare’s classic ‘Macbeth’ reimagined as a one-sided game of chess, played by the witches. 

Shakespeare’s beloved and darkest tragedy, ‘Macbeth,’ tells the story of a man who, in trying to gain everything, loses all that he and his wife hold dear. The play demonstrates the corruptive power of ambition unchecked by a moral conscience and reflects on the meaning of gender, fate and our very existence.

Throughout the Scottish play, many of the characters, specifically the titular Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, behave in a similar nature to chess pieces in a game. I decided to design the ensemble as a set of chess pieces, each with a specific set of moves and goals determined by the players, the Witches who control the game.

However, in ‘Macbeth’, the main conflict is internal, with the characters battling their moral conscience even more so than their external oppositions. In this production, the characters face a mirror of themselves on the chessboard, each having a good and evil side that they must choose between.

Whenever the witches are present, the characters assemble statically on stage, which transforms into a chessboard, providing a very literal visual representation of their inner conflict at that point. Other than this, the characters move freely across the stage, unrestricted and able to perform fully. At moments of doubt and internal conflict, often when monologuing (‘is this a dagger I see before me’ ‘out damned spot”), the character’s opposing white chess piece – their moral conscience – will lurk behind them onstage.

The characters are assigned chess pieces depending on their nature and power over the course of the story, as opposed to their literal titles. For this reason, Macbeth is the King chess piece, not Duncan, as his experience determines the story, which does not end until his death.

Lady macbeth full body front
Macbeth line up
Synopsis page
Fate page
Gender page
Ambition page
Appearance page
Chess page

The production’s colour palette consists only of red, black and white; the ensemble as the black and white chess pieces, and the three witches in bright contrasting red. In this retelling, red represents deception and illusion; the play contains many apparitions and visions, such as the dagger, blood and ghosts, all of which will be projected or painted on the skin in red. The witches – the personification of evil – are clothed entirely in large flowing red cloaks.

The chess characters work together as a cohesive set and are all made entirely from the same material. The ensemble wears sharp sculptural costumes, which make up the silhouette of their pieces using calculated pleating and origami techniques combined with suit tailoring. The black and white chess pieces mirror each other, with the moral conscience pieces being the exact replica of the ambition pieces but realised in white. The stage reflects the nature of these costumes – a black and white chessboard, seemingly pleated folding, creating interest and rises for the characters to perform on.

Lady Macbeth illustration
Lady Macbeth 3/4 portrait
Macbeth illustration
Red lady macbeth silhouette
Lennox illustration
Lady macbeth 3/4 front
Witches illustration
Lady m back 2
Duncan illustration
Lady macbeth 3/4 blue background
Orlando: A Biography

Virginia Woolf’s classic interpretated as a continuous and transformative one person performance, documenting Orlando’s nearly 400 year long life.

Virginia Woolf’s fictional biography accounts the enduring, remarkable life of Orlando, who lives for nearly 400 years and mysteriously changes gender in the 18th century. The work is one of Woolf’s most experimental and daring pieces, communicating her own thoughts about literature, life, gender and society through Orlando’s experiences. The novel is several things at once – a history of modern Britain, British literature, and ultimately a book exploring gender and its relation with society, time and identity.

To design the life of Orlando as a continuous monologuing play in an autobiographical nature, which explores gender, time, society and identity. Orlando performs the story as a one-person play with an ensemble of silent, nameless servants that help dress them and the stage. 10 costumes express Orlando over three hundred and forty years, who adapts to be the personification of each period, changing drastically throughout the novel.

Orlando is a continuous and transformative character, and their costumes will reflect that. The ten looks will transform into one another as we travel through time with Orlando. The costumes are loosely historically placed but not accurate; instead, elements of the era will accumulate on the body and be passed along, creating costumes applicable to multiple periods just like their wearer.
Nothing on stage will be hidden – all the costume changes occur in front of the audience, allowing them to see the transformation between Orlando’s many selves. The ensemble assists these changes, who are dressed for invisibility, wearing nondescript black outfits that do not tie them to any time.

Including the audience in these costume changes brings attention to the clothes, which are the only signifier of time in the production. Just like the text, clothes indicate Orlando’s setting, gender and social standing at each point in the story.

As all of the costume changes are visible, we can think of them as ten very loosely inspired historical looks, or rather one continuous transformative costume, just as Orlando is a continuous and transformative character.

Orlando full body
Orlando line up
Virginia page
Synopsis page
Orlando portrait
Orlando in 1588 illustration
Orlando fan and corset close up
Orlando in 1928 illustration
Orlando landscape front
Orlando fan close up
Orlando in 1748 illustration
Orlando front thoughtful
Orlando wig close up
Orlando in 1608 illustration
Orlando back landscape
Skills & Experience
  • Illustration & Digital Design
  • Concept Design & Development
  • Steam Pleating & Textile Origami
  • Tailoring & Pattern Cutting
  • Millinery & Wig Making