Course Director, MA Costume Design for Performance, London College of Fashion
When I am designing costumes, I work first of all from an instinctive reaction to the physicality of the character, which I try to capture in initial drawings or watercolours, usually using pencil and ink. Ink forces me to make quick decisions and to keep a fast flow, thus capturing the essence of the character in terms of body-shape, posture and facial expression, without thinking about it. The main task for me in order to achieve a drawing that expresses what I feel or imagine about a character is to switch from the analytical side of my brain to the intuitive. The analytical side interferes with the flow of drawing because it tends to operate like a censor wanting me to avoid ‘mistakes’, whereas in fact those mistakes add originality and expression to the drawing.
By working fast and with ink that cannot be erased I can suppress the ‘censor’. This allows me to draw more freely and expressively. Once I have captured the physicality of the characters and their facial expressions, I also like to draw them in the middle of an action. All this leads me to think of what they might wear in that situation. If one of them is reading for days and nights, like Don Quixote, then he would be completely fatigued, careless of the state of his clothes, possibly half-dressed but also with a need to keep warm. This suggests ideas for what he might be wearing in that situation and triggers the design process. Drawing the body is the very first response to the text and, from this point of departure, evolves into final designs.
Education and background
- 1989 – 1992 BA in Fashion Design, Lette Verein Berlin, Germany.
- 1992 – 1995 BA (Hons.) in Theatre Design, Central St Martins University of the Arts London.
- 2000 – 2002 MA Performance and Culture, Goldsmiths University of London.
Agnes was born in Germany and has worked on many productions for opera, dance, theatre and musicals, film and TV in Germany, UK, Japan and the Middle East. Her most recent design credits include The Marriage of Figaro and Don Pasquale (ETO ), Last 5 Years (Barbican), The Rise of the Phoenix and Gibran The Prophet for the Byblos International Festival in Lebanon (2008 and 2005), Al Mutanabbi (Baalbek Festival, Lebanon), Xenobia (Musical in Dubai), Der Freischuetz (National Theatre of Iceland), The Coronation of Poppea (Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan), Othello (Basingstoke Theatre), Life on The Borderline (Arcola Theatre), Pheadra, Yerma’s Eggs, Nirvana, Four Knights in Knaresborough (Riverside Studios), Glassbody which is an installation performance piece for the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London. Agnes has designed numerous productions for the Nuffield Theatre Southampton, LAMDA , RADA , GSMD , Royal College of Music and Drama Centre, London. She has taught Theatre Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design for over 10 years before taking over the MA Costume Design for Performance at London College of Fashion. Her forthcoming productions will be Consultants (Theatre 503, London), Don Quixote (Byblos International Festival, Lebanon) and Horizont in Potsdam, Germany.
- 1995 Linbury Prize, National Theatre, London.
- 1995 – 2000 Linbury Prize, Theatre Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Grants and awards
- 1995 Linbury Prize for Stage Design.