Skip to main content

BA (Hons) Costume for Performance alumni, Eleanor creates slow fashion brand 'Fluid'

E Pipe Costume for Performance
  • Written byTino Matienga
  • Published date 14 March 2023
E Pipe Costume for Performance

We caught up with BA (Hons) Costume for Performance graduate Eleanor Pipe, who is currently freelancing and specialising in wardrobe for theatre while also running her slow fashion business Fluid. In this exclusive piece she tells us about her time at LCF, her inspirations and more!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you chose the BA (Hons) Costume for Performance course?

My name is Eleanor Pipe, I'm London based, and I currently run my own slow fashion business called 'Fluid' as well as working freelance in running wardrobe positions, mainly in theatre. I chose the BA (Hons) Costume for Performance course as I wanted to have a career in costume, but I wasn't sure what.

I knew that to grow in the costume industry in the UK, being able to make as well as design is important. So, I picked this course as it has a good balance, and because of the time we get in year two to do industry placements. Another reason I picked this course is my love for history and writing. The course has a module called 'Cultural and Historical Studies', where you can learn about things separate from your studies, but that helps you grow as a practitioner.

Can you tell us about a project you have worked or are working on, and what aspects you enjoyed the most?

A costume project I have enjoyed working on recently was immersive Dirty Dancing. I worked as a Costume assistant and this meant spending a portion of my time on alterations and maintaining the costumes, and the other dressing. I really enjoyed working with an immersive company as it felt like a combination of working on theatre as well as film. It was fun to do something that was a little different. I enjoyed the fast pace of dressing in such a large outdoor space, and being a part of the world created - which normally wouldn't happen when you are working in costume.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying to BA (Hons) Costume for Performance?

To do your research, make sure this is the right costume course for you as they vary in different universities. This was the right course for me as it had all the aspects I wanted, but make sure you choose the one that is right for you. Also, to be open. I studied costume with the intent of working solely in costume, but through the training and confidence I gained, my intent has shifted more to working for myself making sustainable and size-inclusive clothing.

What inspires you?

One thing that evolved over my time at UAL was my passion for ethical topics - mainly sustainability. I'm inspired by approaching things differently, questioning unethical or unsustainable ways of doing things. I like to focus on re-using what we have as well as finding natural alternatives to methods such as dying or fabric buying.

In an aesthetic way, I'm inspired by history and historical ways of wearing clothes and how that can be translated into modern clothing. As well as ways of representing whatever historical era accurately.

What skills have you learned on BA (Hons) Costume for Performance that you have been able to practice outside of London College of Fashion? 

The main skills I have taken away from the BA (Hons) Costume for Performance course are core construction and design skills. These have given me confidence to explore making and designing what I enjoy. As I mentioned, I have strayed away from costume traditionally and have used the skills I developed to reach a stage where I feel confident in starting a business making and selling clothing (with a slow-fashion focus).

What are your plans for the next few years, and where do you want to see yourself professionally? 

My plan for the next few years is to build up my business 'Fluid,' whilst at the same time working freelance in costume and working for or around causes that I'm passionate about such as being a Climate Advocate at LCF.

I want my business to be my focus 70% of the time, and the freelance work to fit around that. But I am open to other avenues, if life after university has shown me anything,  it's that you never really know what opportunities are around the corner.

Have you had interactions with fashion industry links, if so, how? (Industry expert talks, placements, live project work with brands?

Regarding costume - during my time at LCF I did placements with the Royal Opera House, The Young Vic, and Madame Tussaud's. Then I graduated during the pandemic, so I didn't have many opportunities for a while, but I interned with Lara Jensen in 2020 and then in 2021 I started to get long-term and paid work. During my time at UAL, I went to a couple of talks by Costume professionals such as Sandy Powell and Colleen Atwood. These weren't university held but I accessed them through resources I found on the university website. Most of the opportunities I have had aren't given to you, but they give you the tools to find them.

After University, through my business, I have been lucky enough to come across so many talented small business/slow fashion brands, as well as slightly larger slow fashion brands who host events and pop ups. I have also interacted with craft-based self-employed professionals at Cockpit arts, a company that has been so important in my growth as a business owner. I gained the opportunity to work with Cockpit through the UAL Creative Enterprise award I was a runner up for in 2022.