Charleston County School of the Arts (SOA) announces Fashion & Costume Design major

  • Monday, January 27, 2014



Applications due Jan. 24

Charleston County School of the Arts (SOA) will feature a New Fashion and Costume Design Major.

In this major, students will spend 90 minutes daily learning design and drawing techniques. Students will learn hand and machine sewing skills as well as garment construction techniques.

Rising 9th and 10th Grade students may apply for the 2014-1015 school year.

Prior sewing and drawing lessons are not required.

Applications are due Friday, Jan, 24 (This deadline has been extended.)

Applications found at www.soa.ccsdschools.com. Applications should be mailed or hand delivered to SOA. The school’s address is 5109 W. Enterprise Street, North Charleston, SC 29405

SOA’s Visual Arts Instructor, Marie Nichols - who has taught at the school for 18 years - will head up the new major.

“When I came to SOA (a magnet school with 8 arts majors) to teach Visual Arts in 1997, the school was working on our first musical, Oklahoma. Every arts teacher had a production job. Since I could sew, I volunteered to be in charge of costumes. I had been a Home Economics major at Winthrop, my mother was a seamstress who taught me to sew at age 6, and I had studied sewing for four years during high school,” she explained.

“For the next few years, I worked with interested students in after-school workshops to produce costumes for musicals (Guys & Dolls and Peter Pan). We worked in make-shift spaces with my old sewing machine, iron and ironing board, donated garments and fabrics,” she said.

Nichols said that in 2001, a visual artist who was passionate about designing historical costumes, approached her about starting a class to support his senior thesis of designing and building Queen Elizabeth I era costumes. “We both researched corsets, cartridge pleating, bum rolls, etc. We worked with period patterns and fabricated our own. Paul did an outstanding job and won a scholarship to North Carolina School of the Arts. Since then, he has worked for the Santa Fe Opera Co., several theatres, taught costuming at Catholic U. in DC and is currently the designer for a large theatre in Memphis.”

The Costume and Fashion Design elective grew over the years. Now there are three levels with students from every major. Classes are 90 minutes every other day all year. Students now learn basic sewing skills in the fall, then design and build costumes for a musical or other Theatre production. In the spring, students learn higher level sewing skills and produce their own garments for a runway show. They are highly motivated and even come in to work during lunch, as well as after school. Since the program started, at least 13 students are now either working in some facet of the garment industry, or are still pursuing an undergraduate degree to do so Next year, two of our current seniors plan to attend FIDM and Parsons. They also have students pursuing costume or fashion degrees at College of Charleston (Theatre major with Costume concentration), Art Institute of Charleston, SCAD, VCU and Central St. Martin’s in London.

For more information regarding the major and application process, please contact Marie Nichols at 843.529.4990 or Marie_Nichols@charleston.k12.sc.us

For more information regarding publicity, contact Beth Webb Hart at 843.529.4990 or Elizabeth_Hart@charleston.k12.sc.us

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