A Derry student studying fashion in London has spoken of her ‘lucky’ and ‘rewarding’ experience making costumes for the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony.
Aileen Faller, who earlier this year hit the headlines with her red chair appearance on the Graham Norton television show, helped create, break-down and fit some of the 10,000 costumes on show in graduate Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle’s epic opening ceremony, Isles of Wonder.
Aileen, a first year student at Wimbledon College of Art, within University of the Arts London, had been working on the costumes for the opening ceremony since February.
As she is studying Costume Interpretation at university, the role as a costume maker and assistant for London 2012 was too good an opportunity to pass up.
She said: “I’ve just devoted any and all the time I could to it. Before the summer holidays I worked evenings and weekends and for the last two weeks I’ve been working 12 hours day but I’ve loved every minute.”
Aileen had an opportunity to help out at every stage from stitching hats to fitting each individual volunteer and altering their costume for effect and fit. She explained: “Over my Easter holidays I spent my time breaking down the Industrial Revolution costumes which came to us brand new and in need of some serious work.
“In one day I could be breaking down boots then fitting costumes on volunteers then stitching and changing things that didn’t work in the rehearsals. It was so rewarding because if the cast members were uncomfortable or worried about their costumes they couldn’t perform properly. We’d get gifts of chocolate or thank you cards from performers who felt we really changed their experience.”
After so much work, Friday night’s opening ceremony was both an exciting and stressful experience for Aileen, as the world watched her work go by: “It was mind-blowing, completely surreal. After months of preparation I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was so busy on the day it didn’t sink in until Saturday.”
With an opportunity to work on something so big in the first year of her degree, Aileen said she felt “immensely lucky” as only about 150 volunteers were chosen to cover her role and that of hair and make-up.
She said: “It was a lot of hard work, not a volunteer role where you don’t have responsibility. We had a lot of control, if something went wrong with the costumes on the night or during rehearsals the volunteers were the ones on hand to fix it.
“But it was so rewarding, I gained so much. All my friends from university just went home or holidayed this summer. I couldn’t give up this great opportunity. I’ve worked two other jobs to be able to volunteer and cover my rent but it was worth it.”
Aileen took a two-day break before starting on the costumes for the closing ceremony, which she promises will be just as spectacular.
(This article was kindly reproduced with permission from Podium Magazine)