Costume Methodologies

Project full title: Costume MethodologiesBuilding Methodological Tools for Research in the Field of Costume Design

Research Project brief

The main objective of the Costume Methodologies project is to establish a methodological strategy to investigate the creation, production and function of costume in different areas of live performance (theatre, opera, dance, circus, other stage- or site-specific performance events) as well as in film, television and other camera-/media-based creative projects involving costume.

The field of Costume Design has employed theories and research practices inherited or borrowed from social sciences, fashion, film and performance studies. Yet costume design is a defined field of artistic practice, addressing multiple layers of interpretation for which appropriate analytical tools are needed.

We propose a number of defined case studies, which enable the investigation of a theoretical and methodological frame within which an equal number of research methods on costume are examined, tested, and developed. Our research is structured in four stages: mapping research methods; creating new multi-disciplinary methods; demonstrating how the proposed methodologies work; and sharing, evaluating and disseminating the proposed methodologies for costume design within an international network. The results of the project include proposing approaches for research in costume, developing specific methodological tools and research guidelines, as well as training early career researchers. The results are presented and reviewed amongst peers during international artistic and research events such as Critical Costume 2015 and World Stage Design 2017.

The project includes collaboration with major national and international institutions and researchers related to costume in live performance or film. At a national level, we collaborate with all major Finnish institutions related to costume in film, media and the performing arts, such as the Theatre Museum of Finland and the National Audiovisual Institute (KAVI).

International parteners include researchers from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology – RMIT (Australia); London College of Fashion (UK); UCLA, School of Theater, Film and Television (USA); University of Surrey (UK); University of São Paulo (Brazil); Oslo National Academy of the Arts – KHiO (Norway); Edge Hill University (UK), Southampton Solent University (UK); University of Applied Arts and Vienna Academy of Fine Arts (Austria); E-Campus (Italy); Athens University Museum (Greece); Queen Mary University of London (UK); University of Huddersfield (UK); Centro Universitário Belas Artes de São Paulo (Brazil); Centre National du Costume de Scene – CNCS (France); and the Costume Design Group of the International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians (OISTAT).

The ‘Costume Methodologies’ FiDiPro project organised the Critical Costume 2015 international conference and exhibition, which attracted over 200 participants from 30 nationalities, the international research training seminar ‘Thinking Costume’ in Taiwan, in collaboration with World Stage Design 2017 and OISTAT, and four regular national-level seminars on ‘Costume and Research in Finland’ (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) with contributing researchers from all the costume- and performance-related institutions of Finland.

With the contribution of the invited FiDiPro Professor McNeil, University of Technology Sydney (Australia), a leading scholar in the fields of art and design history and fashion studies, this project aims at introducing Costume Design as a dynamic field of research in which Finland can become an international leader, building the foundations for further research.

About FiDiPro – the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme:

FiDiPro – the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme enables distinguished researchers, both international and expatriates to work and team up with the ‘best of the best’ in Finnish academic research. Led and financed by the Academy of Finland and Tekes, FiDiPro provides competitive grants to projects recruiting highly merited scientists, who are able to commit to long-term cooperation with a Finnish university or research institute. (For more info, see: FiDiPro – the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme at

FiDiPro invited Professor
Peter McNeil , Professor of Design History, University of Technology Sydney, Australia.

Principal Investigator
Sofia Pantouvaki, PhD, Professor of Costume Design for Theatre and Film.
Department of Film, Television and Scenography, Aalto University. Tel. +358 50 599 2288, email:

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