Conference, Costume Society Ambassadors, Costume Society, News, Reviews, Study days  |  September 4, 2018

Patterns of Fashion Study Day News and Reviews

On the 7th July, The Costume Society held its Patterns of Fashion Study Day at London College of Fashion.  The day began with Cosprop founder, John Bright, judging the Janet Arnold Patterns of Fashion Award followed by Michele Clapton, costume designer for The Crown and Game of Thrones, who spoke about her career and design influences.  The final event of the day was a talk about A Regency Gentlemans Wardrobefrom the Regency Tailor, Zack Pinsent.  Four Costume Society Ambassadors attended the day and reviewed the talks as follows:



Jade Bailey-Dowling


The Patterns of Fashion Award is an annual celebration and competition based around Janet Arnolds incredibly detailed series of books, illustrating historic costume taken from examples in museum collections. At this years Costume: Body and Soul Costume Society event John Bright judged his last Patterns of Fashion Award.  Having held the esteemed position of judge for the award since 2012 (with one exception), Bright was faced with four excellent shortlisted creations for his final award.  


Firstly, he talked us through Jennifers recreated Day Dress from 1893, inspired and based upon a similar dress kept at the Museum of London. Bright spoke of the alternations to the original patterns, and how making allowances was necessary in certain cases. Bright suggested some padding may have helped the fit of this eye-catching dress, with its silver fabric and string of pearl details.


It is important to note here that Brights seemingly harsh criticism was, on his own admittance, only due to the standard of the finalists being so extraordinary!


Following on from this, Laurens Jerkin and Hat were discussed. Some may remember that the 2016 Patterns of Fashion winner was a leather Jerkin designed by Amy Jones ( However, this years Jerkin was created using a very delicate cream suede, with intricate embroidery and quilting. Bright noted that it could have been made using Moleskin, which may have been slightly easier to work with, but commended Lauren for sticking to the pattern exactly, remarking particularly on the depth and detail in the embroidery.


Next to be judged was Shonas dress created from calico with fringing detail. Bright pointed out that when working with calico accuracy is key as the fabric will highlight every single detail. Shonas entry was displayed using a borrowed bustle to give it a truthful shape.


This year saw the introduction of international applicants, represented in the shortlisted finalists by Jason and his floral dress. Bright commended Jason, emphasising that Jason had only visited the Victoria & Albert Museum once, and had no access to a museum featuring costumes like the one he created. The construction was extraordinary with an intricate pulley system creating the layered effect on the skirt.


Jason, deservedly, was announced the 2018 Patterns of Fashion Award winner! After Brights judging and announcement all the garments and their accompanying research and workbooks were displayed. It was evident that all of the four finalists had worked incredibly hard on their entries, with thorough research, trialing of techniques and development stages documented throughout.


A huge congratulations to Jason, Jennifer, Lauren and Shona!



Francesca Scantlebury


At the Costume Societys Summer Study Day in early July BAFTA and Emmy award winner Michele Clapton spoke about her role as costume designer for the immensely popular Game of Thrones. It was clear straight away that Michele is very passionate about her work and that the research she completed before starting GOT helped to build this detailed fantasy world.


Designing everything from armour and clothing to all of the jewellery and crowns featured in the show Michele took on a huge role. As fans will know, there are many, many different locations and characters involved in the show, and it was important to create a convincing environment for each one. This led Michele to take inspiration from all over the world, merging patterns, techniques and materials to create believable and visually pleasing clothing for viewers. In one particular instance of this merging Michele explained how the armour worn in Kings Landing shows elements of Renaissance and Italian embellishment, with the cut of the metal deliberately similar to Japanese armour.  


Discussing her thought process and the research she completed before filming began, Michele decided to focus on having distinct colour palettes for different regions. This would hopefully lead to viewers being able to immediately recognise locations at the start of the show. For Winterfell, a palette of dark blues and greens was chosen, alluding to the inhabitantsrelationship with nature and their worshiping of the Old Gods. In the first ever episode Sansa Stark stands next to her family in a much lighter blue cloak illustrating her eagerness to leave Winterfell.


For some settings specific colours worn by characters had already been stated in the books. For the Nights Watch at the Wall Michele debated on how to make their rigid black uniform more visually interesting to viewers. Putting a large cauldron in the background of the set showed clothes being mixed together in dye with some turning darker than others depending on their position in the pot. This alluded to why the uniforms worn differ in shades of black, grey and brown. Michele also looked to emphasise the differences between characters who had planned to join the Nights Watch and those who had not. Jon Snows clothing for example is deep black and he has equipped himself with a much much warmer outfit than most of his poorer counterparts.


Throughout Micheles talk it was clear that every detail had been thought through, no matter how small and regardless of whether it would stand out on screen. In doing so, Micheles designs have helped to create a rich and layered world with costumes playing a large part in making the show the success it has become.



Beth Graham


Zack Pinsent is a self-taught period tailor and researcher. He specialises in Georgian and Regency period male clothing and his work spans from the 1660s to the 1920s. Zack’s Brighton-based company, Pinsent Tailoring, provides bespoke, historically accurate period clothes made using traditional cloth and tailoring techniques.


His talk Dressing a Dandy aimed to give a garment by garment breakdown of what a fashionable gentleman would have worn on a daily basis in the Regency period. Pinsent also discussed how period dramas and museum collections often present a very homogeneous idea of what people wore in the past. He stressed the importance of representing the diversity of historical fashion, rather than institutions or period dramas showing something that is pleasing to a modern aesthetic, but historically inaccurate.


Pinsent gave the talk in period dress. He started in his underwear, which consisted of draws, a shirt, a banyan and a night-cap. In what he described as a ‘reverse strip tease’, he worked through each garment, explaining how they were made and worn. He also shared a range of anecdotes and stories from his research, a few highlights being: Beau Brummells’ obsessive shaving habits (three or four times a day!), a pair of breeches linked to the French Revolution via a bloodstain and an account of an English Hussar who wore a pelisse trimmed and lined in imitation leopard print plush silk velvet and embroidered with gold and silver hearts and flowers.


After Pinsent had completed his ensemble (looking every inch a dandy), he tipped his hat, gave an elegant bow to the audience and was greeted with much applause.

  • Patterns of Fashion Award Winner Jason
  • Patterns of Fashion Award Runner Up Jennifer
  • Patterns of Fashion Award Runner Up Lauren
  • Patterns of Fashion Award Runner Up Shona
  • Costume fittings for Kit Harington and Richard Madden
  • Initial sketches for Caitlin Stark's costumes
  • Initial sketches of Cersei's costumes
  • Sansa Stark standing apart from her family in a light blue cloak