Costume Designer in the Making
It’s possible Kira Bygrave was born in the wrong era. Fifties style swing dresses with full petticoats and bobby socks are her thing. Her favourite outfits have feminine silhouettes with full skirts, padded busts and small waist lines. She’s always preferred them, since as far back as she can remember.
Her personal style as quirky as it is imaginative. It’s no wonder that when you meet this impressive creative, her outfit is equal parts colour, creativity and costume. Today’s look is a sheer pink tulle vintage dress worn over black shorts and black and white striped camisole with Doc Martens style boots. Add a pink Mary Poppins style ruffle trimmed parasol and you have the whole picture.
Making her own outfits to suit her personal style is something that Kira’s been doing since forever. With a natural inclination for the creative arts, and straight out of school, she’s just completed an introductory course in fashion design. More than others she had contemplated, she figured this course would offer creative freedom and a pathway into fashion, perhaps even costume designing.
Like many others, Kira didn’t know anyone else who’d be enrolling in the Cert III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology. Kira, a person with autism, admits to having being anxious when she turned up at TAFE SA’s city campus for the first time.
She needn’t have worried. From her first day, Kira found teachers who were welcoming and a diverse group of interested fellow students. Equally passionate and very supportive, some of her classmates would travel almost one hundred kilometres each way to get to campus. Between classes they spent countless additional hours discussing the finer points of what they’d just learnt. In her own words, “I hadn’t experienced that degree of diversity and acceptance elsewhere.” She became friends with people she wouldn’t have had the chance to meet before. Were it not for the course, says Kira, she wouldn’t have met her best friend Nhommot, a Kenyan Australian. “It’s been good for my confidence, too,” she says.
Enthusing about her course, Kira describes everything she made to satisfy course requirements. Shorts, she’d made them before but not as expertly as after she’d been taught. Skirts, she chose to make a circle skirt, closest to a fifties vibe. Also required were a camisole, t-shirt and dress. Naturally, Kira made a 1950’s style dress, in lemon print with a boat neck and ties at the shoulder.
Comparing her course designs with garments she had made prior to her training, Kira says that she can see a big difference. It’s the superior quality, fine finish and better fit of the garments made for her course. Prior to the training, Kira had accidentally torn a sleeve or three on her earlier designs.
Her course ticked also all the right philosophical boxes. Having always tried to live sustainably, she loved those elements that dealt with producing patterns and garments sustainably. Insights into fashion were informative and a great foundation for understanding how the industry works.
Next Stage to Costume Designer
Having completed the most rewarding six months of study in her life, Kira is planning to specialise. Building on what she’s already learnt, she’s applying to study a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Costume Design. The course starts in the new year. A career as a costume designer is beckoning and this fifties-era fan is hoping ultimately to produce garments for the silver screen.
Also a huge fan of American fantasy film-maker Tim Burton, (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow), Kira can hardly wait to get started on fulfilling the requirements for her new course. She speaks enthusiastically about ideas she has for some horror-fantasy costumes that she has in mind.
For Kira, a career as a costume designer is not only about “seeing my designs on the big screen.” It’s also about a career match for someone who dresses “in costume rather than everyday clothes” and gaining the confidence to chase her dreams.
Meet another emerging designer in our Q&A with Angela Shan.