The costume department at the Royal Opera House is usually a frantic place. When working towards a performance, it’s a moveable feast: an energetic workshop filled with fabric dye, fake blood, pointe shoes, ballet skirts, shepherdess dresses and stray corset bones. In a normal season, it would expect 6,000 fittings, and make around 500-600 costumes per ballet or opera production.
Right now, many members of the ROH’s costume team are on furlough, but have decided to use their skills from home, making personal protective equipment (PPE) including scrubs, masks, hats and bags for NHS staff. Workers like Carine Marrot, ballet wardrobe technician and volunteer, have been using material sourced from local businesses and crowdfunding projects. ‘In order to make myself useful at home, help the NHS and use my sewing skills, I made a set of scrubs, via a local workshop where they had them ordered. I’m so pleased that they have now been sent and are being used by frontline NHS workers at St Joseph Hospice, as well as in care homes and NHS Trusts in the local area including Homerton Hospital in Hackney. They know to call me if they need any more!’ said Carine.
The ROH has also been digging through its own protective equipment, taking 17 boxes’ worth from its dye, props, costume and wigs departments to donate to the London Ambulance Service.
Want to make scrubs for the NHS at home? Find advice on materials, colours and appropriate measurements here.
Stream performances from the Royal Opera House and other London institutions here.
Help document the lockdown by taking part in a photography project with the National Portrait Gallery.
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