Rack­ing up the cos­tume changes

DAILY GRIND She gets to dress peo­ple up as Cookie Mon­ster, Bat­man and the Pink Pan­ther ev­ery day, but is work­ing at a cos­tume store as much fun as it’s cracked up to be? Re­porter Lau­ren Pri­est­ley takes a peek be­hind the scenes.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

When So­phie Gul­land left univer­sity with a de­sign de­gree she never thought she would end up work­ing in a cos­tume shop.

The 28-year-old has been the shop as­sis­tant at the old­est cos­tume store in New Zealand, De­siree Cos­tume Hire in Pen­rose, for five years.

The fam­ily busi­ness is 84 years old and has lit­er­ally thou­sands of cos­tumes packed into its cir­cus tent-styled premises.

The most pop­u­lar cos­tumes in­clude char­ac­ters like Cookie Mon­ster and Dora the Ex­plorer. Re­cently 1920s style out­fits have be­come pop­u­lar since the re­lease of The Great Gatsby film, Miss Gul­land says.

New ideas for cos­tumes are never-end­ing, she says. The out­fits are ei­ther made in­store or pur­chased from over­seas.

‘‘There’s

al­ways

a

new movie or trend – you just can’t keep up.

‘‘Peo­ple of­ten have an idea that it’s go­ing to be cramped with musty old cos­tumes but we’re al­ways re­plac­ing the old with the new. It’s chang­ing so of­ten there’s never an end to it.’’

A large part of her job at the mo­ment is mod­el­ling cos­tumes for pho­tos to go on the store’s new web­site.

The rest of her time is spent help­ing cus­tomers find the per­fect party cos­tume.

The St Marys Bay res­i­dent worked in re­tail while study­ing for her de­gree and says be­ing a peo­ple per­son is a nec­es­sary ‘‘learnt be­hav­iour’’ for the job.

‘‘It’s re­ally creative most of the time. It’s also got a happy vibe. Peo­ple com­ing in are usu­ally in a good mood.’’

But it’s not all glitz and glam­our for cos­tume store as­sis­tants. Peo­ple’s per­cep­tions about the job are of­ten dif­fer­ent to re­al­ity, Miss Gul­land says.

‘‘There’s the unglam­ourous side of wash­ing ev­ery­thing – that has to be done con­stantly.

‘‘Ev­ery day we have peo­ple say­ing ‘it must be so fun work­ing here’ but they for­get it’s still a job. There’s al­ways ups and downs.’’

She doesn’t have a favourite cos­tume of her own but loves be­ing able to try on a range of dif­fer­ent op­tions when she is head­ing to a party.

Tak­ing pho­tos of ev­ery cos­tume means she is still dis­cov­er­ing new trea­sures, she says.

‘‘There’s just so many cos­tumes. And some­times it’s the ones you would never pick for your­self that work the best.’’

Miss Gul­land says some cus­tomers come in with set ideas while oth­ers get in­spired by the pic­tures of dif­fer­ent cos­tumes adorn­ing the walls.

There is al­ways room for cre­ativ­ity with each cos­tume, she says.

‘‘It’s some­times a bit outthere. Of­ten guys hir­ing cos­tumes want a gun to go with it.

‘‘Even if there’s no rea­son for that char­ac­ter to have a gun, like the Cookie Mon­ster, they want to take one home.’’

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Hats off:

So­phie Gul­land has been mak­ing a liv­ing out of play­ing dress-up for five years.

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