Faculty PROFile: Costume Shop’s Jamie Grace-Duff

Three students and the costume shop professor work together pinning curtains

Meet Jamie Grace-Duff, costume lecturer and costume shop supervisor within the Department of Theatre and Dance, who earned her MFA in Costume Design/Technology from Temple University in 2012 and a BS in Fashion Design from Drexel University in 2002. Jamie, the costume shop supervisor in the back closet full of outfits

What is your area of expertise?

My focus is on pattern making, tailoring, and construction of costumes/clothing in any time period including original conceptual designs. This involves researching a specific time period, understanding historical fabrications and techniques, adapting designs to accommodate current tools, techniques, and body types all while maintaining design integrity and performer comfort.

What is your favorite class to teach, and why?

I LOVE teaching students how to sew in our Stagecraft Fundamentals and Costuming Classes. In our increasingly virtual culture, making something with your hands is incredibly gratifying. You feel the passage of time while measuring, cutting, assembling, and finally you have a thing, an actual thing that you can hold in your hand, something you can use and wear. While a project is in process, students frequently have trouble visualizing how the final piece will look, and I love their expressions as they recognize the immediate results of their hard work. The gasp followed by, “Look what I MADE!”.

Jamie cutting into a blue and white piece of fabric

Share with us one aspect of student engagement that you enjoy the most, and why. 

​I really enjoy helping students discover their passion and how to mold that into skills and a specific career path. Talking with them and helping them to see how history is integral to theater practice or marketing is an essential skill to selling your work or your performances. Mentoring students to be successful is a rewarding puzzle.

What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline or research focus?

Costuming is a delicate balance of research, fabrication, and technical skill that also has to account for a moving human body and the impact of directorial choices and other design elements. It is rare to just get to make something however you imagine it and also historically accurate – there are always changes based on tools, time, and people.

Do you have a favorite Rowan memory?​

Jamie and a student working on pinning black curtains

When I started at Rowan, I met a student, Victoria Weber, who was struggling to find her voice within theater/dance. After introducing her to costume design and construction, she felt instantly at home. Several years later, I got to sit and watch Victoria present her costumes within a devised performance she created with several other graduating seniors. Sitting in that room, watching their faces glow, hearing their unspoken “Look what I made”, I knew they would succeed at whatever they set their minds’ to.

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