Arts & culture

Red-letter design

Fashion legend Pam Hogg on taking on the role of costume designer for the National Theatre of Scotland’s latest co-production, Cyrano de Bergerac

 Cyrano de Bergerac – Brian Ferguson and Jessica Hardwick. Credit Mihaela Bodlovic

Interview: Cheryl Caira

How have you weaved your distinctive design style into the costumes for Cyrano de Bergerac?

My work is always about the feeling of a moment so for me the challenges are the same. As soon as I heard it was Cyrano my mind was racing, but the reality that it all had to work in split seconds with multiple changes just meant that everything had to be simplified. The costumes as a whole became more of a suggestion and practicality became the focus, to allow the actors freedom to move.

You’ve been called the ‘Queen of underground fashion’. Was the dark, romantic tragedy of the Cyrano de Bergerac story appealing as a basis for costume design – and what attracted you to working on this particular stage adaption?

Many thanks – I’d no idea I’d been bestowed with that title! The story of Cyrano is for me way beyond Romeo and Juliet, as it’s a love story so deep and terrifyingly bound in rejection, but the balance between this and the comedy elements, especially in this Glaswegian version [Edwin Morgan’s Scots translation] takes it to another place. Having spent the best part of my youth in Glasgow and now having my first shot at costume design back here is the best gift I could have been given.

Cyrano de Bergerac – Ensemble. Credit Mihaela Bodlovic

You’re hands-on with every stage of designing, from devising to catwalk, which is quite a rarity now. Why have you stuck to this approach throughout your career?

It’s been through necessity really as funding to build a steady business has evaded me, probably though lack of time to be able to dwell on this side of things, as I’m constantly in creative mode. I’d absolutely love to be able to employ a permanent small team who I could teach and they could grow along with me, allowing me more time for design, but there will always be a hands-on element at the first stages, as it’s from there that my ideas grow and develop – all the little mistakes that send me careering off in other directions I’d never have thought on.

What’s setting your creativity alight at the moment?

I never know what’s going to emerge until I’m in full swing, so it’s a mystery to me too and that’s the joy of it.

Cyrano de Bergerac – Samuel Pashby Bhav Joshi, Scott Mackie. Credit Mihaela Bodlovic

How much does Glasgow’s design heritage and arts & music scene influence your current aesthetic?

Glasgow’s an incredible city charged with life. You can’t help being influenced just by this energy alone. It’s always been a place of inspiration for me. As a child I spent days on end at the art galleries dreaming of being a painter and later years in every music venue dreaming again.

Is recognition through accolades like the ‘Style Hall of Fame’ at the recent Jersey Style Awards important to you?

Receiving an actual award is fantastic, but it’s not at all important. Recognition that my work is resonating is important as creating in a void is pointless. I try to harness the energy that drives me to create and in turn to hopefully inspire.

 Cyrano de Bergerac – Jessica Hardwick & ensemble. Credit Mihaela Bodlovic

  • Cyrano de Bergerac – at Citizens Theatre at Tramway, Glasgow until 22nd September
  • Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
    : until 3rd November
  • Eden Court, Inverness
    : 7th to 10th November