9 July 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network
Maeve Paterson Q&A
26 Jan 2005 :

How did you first become interested in becoming a Costume Designer?

My mother worked in costume, so from a very early age I was sewing buttons etc...

Were you aware of any courses or training when leaving school, and if not, how did you find out where you could learn your trade?

I actually wanted to be an interior designer, and fell into costume because it was relatively easy for me. Was I aware of any courses? Yes, but not necessarily any to do specifically to do with Costume.

How long did you spend in college, and where did you go?

1 year at the VEC Ballsbridge, Dublin and 2 years at the Haslam school of dress design, Leeds.

Were places like Filmbase, Screen Training Ireland and the Galway Film Centre etc of benefit to you when you were training?


How important is it for securing work that you are formally trained or qualified in your field?

One would think that it should be of immense importance, but all too often it comes down to who knows who.

How long did it take you to work your way up to where you are now? What’s the process?

I started in theatre as assistant wardrobe and I progressed to a TV rep company after about 7years. Then I did a 2year stint in a production company learning how everything gels together as well as keeping on the night theatre job, difficult!!

About 10 years after I started my journey I got my first break in the film world, I started as a wardrobe supervisor and eventually I was deemed worthy enough to design my first film.

Does SIPTU, STI or your Guild provide training schemes / courses for its members?

Yes, if the members are wiling to give of their time.

After leaving college / finishing training, was it easy to find work?

It can be a very daunting experience, not for the faint hearted. The cold calls to prospective employers is always a little scary, but worth the effort.

How much work is there in Ireland for any aspiring Costume Designers? Is it especially hard to break into here, or is it the same everywhere?
We do not tend to attract a lot of the ‘Costume’ type films here, so very often designers have to get on the travelling circuit as assistants with UK or USA designers to progress.

Is it possible to progress at all without any real qualifications?

Yes, I believe it is, if you put your mind to it and believe in yourself, anything is possible

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given in your career, and what advice would you give to anyone looking for a career in Costume Design?


My advice would be to start in the Wardrobe Department polishing boots and gradually learn to appreciate the hard way, the practicalities of costume. Always remember, what is the worst they can do, SHOOT YOU??

Credits For Maeve Paterson - Costume Designer
- Turning Green (2004)
- News For The Church (2004)
- Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honour (2003)
- Not Afraid, Not Afraid (2001)
- H3 (2001)
- The Tailor Of Panama (2001)
- Country (2000)
- The Nephew (1998)
- Night Train ((1998/I)
- The General (1998)
- The Life Of Reilly (1995)
- Broken Harvest (1994)
- Rock-A-Doodle (1991)
- The Fantasist (1986)

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