Jenny Hayton - Costume

How did you come to work at CSM?

I’ve been working at CSM for about 8 years, as Specialist Technician for Costume. I was on maternity leave from Central School for Speech when I saw the advert for the job at Saint Martins. I had wanted to work at CSM for years, particularly with the Performance Design and Practice course, as my background is in performance art, and the course takes performance in the broadest sense possible. This is my interest, so it was the perfect job for me to apply to. 

What’s your background?

I have an MA in fashion textiles design, but I’ve always worked more towards performance: for example, I worked with a costume maker for Batman whilst I was doing my MA. When I graduated, I worked for a prop maker making animated displays for shopping centres. It’s always been in that field.

What does your practice consist of?

I am now a performance designer. I was a commissioned artist for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, I was invited to propose what I’d like to do and I ran workshops for the public. I commissioned the WI to make a commemorative Flag, which opened the whole event at Battersea Park, and then created Toasting events with the public. It was also a way of recording a snapshot of the general public now, what they want to celebrate.

Six pieces of my work have been acquired by the Museum of London for their Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee permanent collection. They tell the story of the Jubilee for future generations.

I also work in dance theatre. I work a lot in site-based pieces, for example at the moment with the Almeida Theatre, on a piece called I DO at the Hilton Hotel. It’s been touring different hotels around the country. As a production designer I worked with the cast to create the piece of work, with elements of costume, set and props.

What do you love most about your job? 

The diverse student body: working with these very creative minds. It’s really great to see the way that students approach things, the challenging perceptions of what performance is that they bring, and their critical thinking on what their practice is.

What's your favourite thing about Central Saint Martins?

Now that we are at King’s Cross, it’s being able to see what other departments are doing, having this shared space, with the vibrancy and the clashes that never really happened before. We’ve formed a stronger relationship with the fashion department now that we’re all on the same site, but also with architecture, ceramics… all these crossovers that weren’t happening before.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

What I find the most inspiring is when you’re learning about things in the past, and why they happened. Costume is about people, so the social aspect of it: how people used to behave, how culture changed… but relating it to now. How societies operate in terms of clothing and costume is my biggest fascination, I don’t know if it’s my biggest inspiration.

Who's your favorite artist/photographer/fashion designer/director? 

Akram Khan. The whole philosophy of his work is really inspiring.

What advice would you give to new students?

To explore and take the opportunities that are available, whilst they’re here. There is so much knowledge and information, to really utilise that. And to be on time! We’re all industry practitioners, and we recommend people to industry. But we won’t recommend someone who’s going to be late!