Naomi Gibbs, costume designer

 31 July 2012

After playing bass in a rock band, Naomi Gibbs now works as a costume designer.

"My favourite thing is to see the progression from initial sketches, right through to finished garment."



What job do you do?

I'm a costume designer and maker of stage costumes for musicians and theatre, plus private commissions (corsetry and unusual wedding dresses).

Professionally, I started taking private commissions in 2003, but I have been working towards this since I was a small child, always sewing and designing.

The pivotal time was working in a bridal store as an in-house dressmaker and manageress (gaining plenty of experience along the way) before starting my own business.

What jobs have you done in music?

I used to be in a rock covers band, singing and playing bass. We played regularly at the local pubs and small venues which was fun, but I soon realised I preferred a more behind-the-scenes role.

"Strive to be better and learn all the time."

I illustrated posters, album covers and band logos for local upcoming acts and made stage costumes for heavy metal bands.

Later on, after I'd gained more experience in costume designing and making, I was lucky enough to meet Adam Ant. We soon discovered we shared a mutual passion for costume and music so became friends, after which he gave me a wonderful opportunity to be his personal costume designer and maker.

I've made replicas of his famous costumes and designed new ones for him. When Adam Ant plays a live show, I go with him as a wardrobe mistress.

I've worked with people involved in the rockabilly scene too, creating unique 1950s-style outfits. I'm hoping to expand my clientele in the rockabilly music scene.

What qualifications do you have?

I have a GNVQ in art and design at intermediate level, and a BTEC National Diploma in music practice. I also have a foundation diploma in art and design.

I started a BA degree in costume production, leaving after completing the first year to start a family.

My most prized 'qualifications' have been unofficially gained in the workplace from hands-on experience, which you can't beat. There's no certificate, but the knowledge is invaluable.

What do you do at work?

I generally answer a lot of emails and phone calls to do with prospective or ongoing projects. A good portion of time is spent either making, designing or consulting with or measuring customers. Visits to suppliers are quite frequent too.

What's the best thing about your job?

The satisfaction I get from completing something to someone's exact specifications. I love to see the happiness they feel from wearing something that makes them feel on top of the world.

My favourite thing is to see the progression from initial sketches, right through to finished garment. It's great to see how it developed along the way, and how the design was interpreted from flat image to three-dimensional product.

This is my dream job, and always has been. Now that I have it, I must strive to be better and learn all the time.

How do I get into music?

Never give up, and always try to mention your speciality to anyone you have a conversation with. It may seem cringeworthy, but you never know where the most amazing opportunity can arise from.

Make enquiries everywhere, even if it seems fruitless at first. Seize as many opportunities as you can handle. You never know where they might lead.

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