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Grayson’s Robes: 2019 winner Rachele Terrinoni shares her experience

A woman with her hand adjusting the fabric of something in front of her. She is wearing glasses and concentrating.
  • Written byKat Smith
  • Published date24 January 2022
A woman with her hand adjusting the fabric of something in front of her. She is wearing glasses and concentrating.
Rachele Terrinoni working on the robes

The Grayson’s Robes competition gives students across UAL the chance to design and create the robes for world-renowned artist and UAL Chancellor Grayson Perry.

As we approach the 11 February deadline for submissions to the Grayson’s Robes competition 2022, we chatted to Rachele Terrinoni, who studied MA Costume Design for Performance at London College of Fashion and was the winner of the last Grayson’s Robes competition in 2019.

Here, she speaks about her experience of applying for the competition, designing the robes and working closely with Grayson throughout the process.

A picture of the artist Grayson Perry in platformed lime green shoes, striped and starry tights, a 60s-style dress with lots of layers and a ruffed collar and oversized puffy sleeves.
Grayson Perry's graduation robes 2019 - designed by Rachele Terrinoni.

The design

Rachele began her submission by examining the brief and creating designs based on the feminine silhouettes Grayson prefers, as well as bright colours and highly textural fabrics. “I knew he likes feminine silhouettes, and I wanted to show off his legs and hide his waist like he wanted, so I wanted the shape to be a 60s-vibe,” says Rachele.

When compiling her fabric samples, Rachele took inspiration from a wide range of artistic forms, such as theatre and fashion, to reflect how Grayson is a multitalented artist working across a range of mediums and techniques. The front is reminiscent of the squares of a classic Arlecchino outfit – a popular recurring character in Italian theatre – while the ornate frilled collar is a nod to the Elizabethan ruff.

In her submission for the robes, Rachele used swatches of fabrics and multiple designs – elements of these were picked and taken forward to the final design. “When you see something that is drawn or just a sketch, it isn’t the same as seeing it in 3D and touching it,” she says. “Grayson likes to see the fabrics you want to use.”

Rachele’s final design was comprised of a custom-made petticoat, an 8-metred hand-smocked dress, and a Swarovski crystal-encrusted coat which featured 10 layers of silk dupion, overlaid by 10 metres of linen lining which gave the garment its shape.

The drama was kept high throughout, with oversized puffed sleeves, each made from 5 layers of tulle and punctuated by Swarovski crystals and acid-yellow flowers cut from bridal fabric.

The attention to detail was fine, with the sleeves changing in the light during the graduation ceremony and even the pattern of Grayson’s tights being designed by Rachele.

Layers of pink, yellow and teal fabric laid on top of eachother
Fabric for Grayson's Robes

Working with Grayson

Throughout the process of creating the robes after she was picked as the winner of the competition, Rachele worked closely with Grayson. He chose elements from various designs Rachele had drawn, or picked from different options of fabric and colours, and they worked together to decide the final design. “I wanted to be sure he had choices, and that he could see how different materials worked with different techniques, shapes and how they worked together.”

“It was a great experience,” says Rachele. “Meeting and working with him was great. He was very friendly and supportive, and fun!”

“His taste is very similar to mine, and it was more about dressing up a client in haute couture than having a show or character.”

Since graduating, Rachele has continued to design and create costume for both theatre and film. “Everything’s going pretty well,” she says. “It’s great to have this collaboration on my portfolio, and Grayson wrote a beautiful reference letter because he was very happy with the results.”

Grayson Perry smiling as he is fitted for his robes.
Grayson Perry during the making of his robes.

Rachele’s advice

For UAL students thinking of submitting an entry to the Grayson’s Robes competition for 2022 graduations, Rachele says to go for it:

“If you like Grayson as an artist it’s obviously a great experience and I recommend to look at his art, his styling, his use of the colour, his fashion and the shape he likes to wear – he has a very specific style.”

Submit your ideas

See the story to find out how to apply to design and create Grayson's Robes for the 2022 graduation ceremonies!

The Making of Grayson's Robes - #UALGrads 2019