Behind the scenes with costume designer, Siân Thomas

By 13 April 2024Blog, Shows

Siân Thomas tells us about her process for designing the costumes for Baby, He Loves You

Early influences for Sian’s designs

Whilst reading a script for the first time, images will pop into your head straight away. As the costume designer, I wonder where the characters go shopping, how much money they might have – all that stuff makes a big difference.

On stage, the costumes are a visual cue which can hint at where a character might come from, or what kind of job they have, or a bit about their personality – all from what they’re wearing. So, there’s quite a lot of psychology that goes into the design. 

I also have to think very carefully about how each actor is going to get from one costume to another – the transitions between the scenes and the clothing changes within the scenes themselves, all those logistics. 

Usually what ends up on stage is different from what I think it’ll be at the beginning, because rehearsals really develop the ideas. And actors can bring their own things to the table too. So, some of the final costumes you’ll see are similar to those on my initial pinterest boards, or rather there’ll be clear influence from those images, and some of them came later in the process. 

I’ve got a massive thing about colour and the way it can blend with the storyline. If you’re having a bad day, you might subconsciously reflect that in your clothing. The character of Lucy, in particular, starts off in vibrant clothing, and then as the show goes on, she ends up in drabber colours. So, the visual matches the journey of how she’s feeling.

Bethany Wells’ set design is all pinks and greys. If I had too much pink and grey in the costumes, I knew they’d morph into the set a little bit, but at the same time I didn‘t want to have colours that jarred too drastically with the set. So, I came up with a colour palette with the pinks and greys in mind, but also a stronger teal green, an intense blue and a deeper red, which all go with the pink and grey, but they also stand alone. 

Alison was my favourite character’s costume to put together, because it’s quite simplistic. I think she’s the one person in the show who sits in the middle of the other characters. She’s neutral, in a sense, and you never really know who she sides with. But her’s was just fun to create as well. The motherofthebride who’s always wanting the wedding that she didn’t have.

Maddie, who plays Alison, is up on the hoop a lot in the show and is doing a great deal of movement. I needed to make sure that she can do what she needs to do on the hoop, so Alison’s whole wardrobe is very jumpsuit oriented. Satin jumpsuits all the way.

I wanted Phil to be all about checkered shirts in bold colours. Mike’s got a lot of collars on throughout, he’s a smartly dressed man. Jody is all about the halter neck and Lucy seems to have a lot of ruching going on.

Phil and Lucy have quite strong personalities, so are always in strong, dark colours, whereas Mike and Jodie are in pastels. Greys, pinks, whites and pale blues for Mike. Jodie’s always in a cream, and then I introduced a pink for her too, because I got bored of looking at cream, but it’s a very pastel pink. And then Alison sits in the middle. 

It’s great working with modern clothes, because there is so much choice these days, yet somehow I can never find that one thing I’m looking for! I don’t like too many costume changes; I think it can become very confusing for an audience. You want the costumes to sit and merge and not to be a distraction from the story.

So, even though these colour changes are going on, the audience won’t necessarily realise it. And with these costume and colour choices, I’m drawing subtle lines between them and the characters and their stories.