Designing Shirley Valentine

We caught up with Gillian Lennox, Lyric Costume Supervisor and the Costume Designer for Shirley Valentine, to find out more about how she styled Shirley!


 What is the process you go through when approaching the design process?

The script is always the best place to start, then a chat with the director and actor to hear their thoughts and vision for the production.   The costumes need to work alongside the set design, so this is an important element to also consider. You need to relate to the characters and understand their story and you want the costumes to be a natural part of them rather than stand-alone pieces. They need to help tell the journey the character is on. With all that in mind- research is key, look to the era that the production is being set in and work from there. I like to call this process ‘hunting and gathering’, idea’s start forming, colour choices, prints and the style of the character emerges.  As this is all in your own head, you need to create mood boards and design sketches in order to birth your ideas and present to the rest of the creative and production team and this is when everything becomes alive and starts to happen.


Where did your inspiration come from?

Once I read the script, I knew how I wanted Shirley to look, I knew that woman. She needed to have a certain gentleness and warmth to her. I guess I thought of my mum in the 80s, I wanted the audience to be able to relate to Shirley, see their own mum, sister, aunt, friend in her.


What is the biggest challenge you faced?

As the production is set in 1986, the biggest challenge was NOT TO DO tacky fashion 80s, but you still need to know it’s the 80s so it was finding the balance.


Which piece was your favourite to design?

The 3 costumes in Shirley are like my children, I don’t have favourites, I love them all. However I smile ecstatically every time Tara Lynne O’Neill comes on stage in her robe, swimsuit and hat- she looks incredible and I think I subconsciously did a little homage to Elizabeth Taylor.



Where’s your dream holiday destination and what would you pack?

Tennessee, and my cowboy boots of course!