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LIPA students learn from triple Oscar winning designer

Wednesday 08 May 2024

LIPA students learn from triple Oscar winning designer

Design and costume making students at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) got an opportunity to learn from a triple Oscar winner with the visit of Jenny Beavan. 

Jenny, who won Academy Awards for her costume designs for A Room with a View, Mad Max: Fury Road and Cruella, also has four BAFTAs, two Emmys and one Olivier Award.  

Jenny spent a day-and-a-half with students and was accompanied by her associate costume designer Lauren Reyhani. Lauren, who studied Theatre & Performance Design (TPD) at LIPA, is a successful costume designer in her own right whose film credits include Jenn Nkiru Untitled, For Heidi and Happy Meat, and as an associate costume designer Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, White Bird, and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris  

The pair took part in a series of Q&As discussing their careers and giving an overview of the film industry as well as small group tutorials where students could show and discuss their work with them. 

We caught up with Jenny and Lauren for a chat on day two of their visit. 

How important are courses like our BA (Hons) Theatre & Performance Design and MA Costume Making to your industry?

Jenny Beavan: I would say very important. We need new talent coming in. Like all industries it goes through dips but people need entertainment and I think they will need more in the future. What’s great about LIPA is it is very grounded, covers a huge range of skills and there’s a lot of practical work so students get a sense of what the industry is like. 

Lauren Reyhani: I agree. A lot of courses are hypothetical but here it’s so grounded in practical issues – you have to make things, you have to solve problems. From a costume point of view, you work with bodies and that’s incredible, you’re not just working with an idea, you’re working with the physicality of an actor or a dancer. 

Lauren Reyhani chatting to students

Lauren, when you look back at your time at LIPA and your work now – what has been the most useful part of your training? 

LR: The collaboration. It really helps you develop your work ethic and your communication skills. You can be as creative as you like but if you don’t know how to speak to people, you’re going to struggle.  

The collaborative quality of the work that is done here; you work with actors, dancers, musicians, technicians, directors, tutors, you’re getting critique and you’re building shows with your contemporaries and other year groups, that translates into real life and that is invaluable. 

Jenny, you’ve been here for over a day now, what are your impressions of LIPA? 

JB: What I absolutely love is the brightness of the students and how keen they are to interact with you. You don’t get that everywhere. But this lot are just so full of interest and life. Yesterday there were so many great questions (during the Q&A) it was almost impossible to stop, there was so much interest. LIPA just seems to create such a great sense of energy. 

Jenny Beavan was made a LIPA Companion at the 2023 LIPA Graduation ceremony. LIPA awards Companionships for two reasons: outstanding achievement and practical contribution to students’ learning. Jenny previously took part in online sessions with students during the pandemic. 

Find out more about BA (Hons) Theatre & Performance Design. Find out more about MA Costume Making. 

Head of TPD Ashley Shairp with Lauren Reyhani and Jenny Beavan

Images: top, l-to-r Jenny Beavan, Lauren Rehani, middle Lauren in conversation with students, bottom L-to-r Head of TPD Ashley Shairp, Lauren, Jenny. Photography Brian Roberts and Joe Norman