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UCOL fashion student rubs shoulders with top designer

By UCOL on Tuesday, 28 February 2017

UCOL Bachelor of Design and Arts student, Ali Anderson

A Whanganui UCOL fashion student recently got a taste of the fast-paced nature of working backstage at an opera production.

Third year UCOL Bachelor of Design and Arts student Ali Anderson assisted renowned New Zealand costume designer Lee Williams with the wardrobe for the New Zealand Opera School’s production Great Opera Moments 2017 at Whanganui Opera week last month.
Lee Williams has designed costumes for films such as King Kong, District 9, and Elysium, as well as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series. Recently, she was the wardrobe supervisor for the New Zealand Opera’s 2016 season of Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Ali, a Textile/Fashion Design major, assisted with the costume quick changes backstage.
The opportunity arose when Lee approached UCOL Fashion and Textile Lecturer Stephanie West, looking for fashion students to volunteer on the production. 
This was Ali’s first experience working backstage at a show.
“It was really fun. I want to get into costume design after I’ve finished studying my degree, so this was a good experience to see how it all works,” she says.
Ali says a key lesson was that in that kind of environment you need to work fast and communicate well with everyone around you.
“I learned a lot about how to put on costumes and work with people. I can be a bit shy, so it was good to be pushed into having to talk to people.”
Ali has already picked up another interning role, sewing costumes for School Dance at Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North, starting mid-March.
UCOL Head of School – Creative Industries Rachel Hoskin says Ali’s involvement with these productions are good examples of the kinds of opportunities available to UCOL students and show how industries value UCOL’s creative courses.
“Through our industry connections, our students get all sorts of great opportunities to gain work experience and develop their skills outside of the classroom. It’s great to see Ali making the most of these opportunities and being able to transfer her skills from the classroom to such a demanding environment.”
UCOL’s Bachelor of Design and Arts is a three-year programme delivered at UCOL in Whanganui, as part of the Whanganui School of Design. Students choose one of three majors: Visual Arts, Textile/Fashion Design, or Graphic Design.