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Task 1 - Finding Inspiration

To design a costume for an artist, the designer will make use of range of ideas and inspirations. The design will take inspiration from the artist’s personality and musical style combined with the designer’s personal taste, aesthetic and style. Other influences can be found in nature and the environment, period dress and historical costume, the traditional dress of different cultures and popular culture.

Costume design can sometimes be seen as wearable art. Costumes for the stage need to be more interesting and eye catching than what you would wear in your everyday life due to the scale of the performance and the distance between performer and audience. Because the audience might be far away from the stage the costume helps performer be seen. Costumes are also vital for performers who want to put on a show that makes the audience think ‘wow’ about what they hear AND see.

There are some costumes in The Australian Performing Arts Collection that have been inspired by very famous works of art. Two of these were designed for Kylie Minogue to wear on stage; the first for her Enjoy Yourself Tour in 1990, and the second for the Aphrodite Tour in 2011. 

Example A: Mondrian

Piet Mondrian was a Dutch Cubist painter who was active between 1892 and 1944. One series of paintings he created use only black and white and the primary colours (red, blue and yellow) placed in simple boxes arranged on the canvas. The idea of these artworks was to portray a sense of balance.

Mondrian’s works have become a great source of inspiration for designers. An example in the Australian Music Vault collection is the Bodysuit designed for Kylie Minogue by Ian McMaugh. You can see how McMaugh used Mondrian’s sense of shape and colour and applied this technique to the bodysuit. The result is a stylish and sophisticated costume. McMaugh used sequins to add an element of fun to the costume design. Sequins are also great materials to use on stage as they catch and reflect the lights in a theatre or concert venue.

 Composition C - Mondrian

Kylie Minogue bodysuit

Example B: Botticelli 

In 2010 Kylie Minogue embarked on her 12th concert tour, Aphrodite: Les Folies Tour. Costume and set design for this tour took its inspiration from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. 

While many different artists have painted Aphrodite, all the artworks of her seem to share the same similarities – she is depicted as a great beauty, draped in flowing white material or cascading long hair, emerging from the sea where she was born.

In this painting by Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, Venus (the Roman name for Aphrodite), emerges from a shell like a beautiful pearl, and her golden hair flows around her. Fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana designed many costumes for Kylie’s Aphrodite tour, and although the inspiration might not be as obvious as the Mondrian design, there are certainly elements here that reference depictions of Aphrodite.

Firstly, the Dolce & Gabbana costume shown below is made of hundreds of pearls – the beautiful objects that are born inside shells and emerge from the sea to be admired – just like Aphrodite herself. We can also see colour and texture being referenced in the costume – the golds and off whites we see in Aphrodite’s skin and hair are mimicked in the costume, and the cape drapes and flows like the hair and fabrics in the painting. Aphrodite was also known to love to wear jewelry – this Dolce & Gabbana design could be described as full-body jewelry!



The Birth of Venus

Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, 1484-86

Kylie Minogue - Cape

Kylie Minogue’s Cape. Designed by Dolce and Gabbana

In this painting of Venus (Aphrodite), also by Botticelli, the goddess is clothed in a white flowing gown with gold trim, which portrays her as very feminine and angelic. You can see how this portrayal of Aphrodite has influenced the costume below, again designed by Dolce & Gabbana, with the colours and flowing material highlighted in the costume design.

Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars by Sandro Botticelli, 1485.

This costume also makes references to historical Roman costumes, in particular the winged helmets (Galea), breast plates, and leather strapped sandals worn by the Gladiators. Dolce & Gabbana might have chosen to add these ‘warrior’ costume elements to show an element of Kylie’s own personality – she is feminine and beautiful, but also strong and has a fighting spirit.

Kylie Minogue - Dress

Kylie Minogue’s Dress for the opening act of Aphrodite Les Folies tour, 2011. Designed by Dolce and Gabbana. Courtesy of the Australian Performing Arts Collection.

What’s the Reference?

Have a look at Kylie Minogue’s costumes in the Collection. Do you have any ideas where the inspiration for these designs may have come from? You can research the artist, costume and designer online to help you put together a ‘design map’, or annotated image, of ideas that went into these designs. Remember that ideas for costume designs don’t always have to come from works of art like the examples above. Ideas and inspiration can come from films, history, gaming, pop culture, music, nature ... anything really!

Kylie Minogue - Torso Plate

Kylie Minogue’s Torso Plate of Kyborg costume in Act One of the KylieFever2002 tour. Courtesy of the Australian Performing Arts Collection. Designed by Johnny Rocket and Edward Griffiths.

Kylie Minogue - Leggings

Kylie Minogue’s leggings. Courtesy of the Australian Performing Arts Collection. Designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.

For more costume design activities, please check out Activities 3.3 – 3.9 from the Kylie on Stage Learning Resource available here


Choose a band from the Australian Performing Arts Collection to design a poster for. Undertake some online research to find out about the band’s history and background, and listen to some of their music. It is important that you have a good understanding of the style of the band before you start designing their poster.

Your brief is to design a poster advertising the band’s upcoming show. The details of the show are:

Venue: Myer Music Bowl
Date: 1st January 2019 at 8pm
Tickets: available online at

There are some basic design principles you need to consider when you put your design together: 

1. Make it easy to read from a distance

Most of the time posters are viewed from a distance, as people walk or drive past them, which means people are unable to stop to look at fine detail. As a designer, you have to make it easy for people to get the information quickly and clearly. The main pieces of information that need to be seen clearly are: the name of the band, the venue, and the date of the show.

2. Incorporate contrast

It’s really hard to read grey writing on a white background. Use contrasting colours to make the text “pop”. A colour wheel can help you choose contrasting colours. Bold colours will grab attention. 

3. Use one big visual 

If you’ve got an image you’re keen to use, try scaling it up to fit the entire poster frame – how does that look? One dominant image often looks better than a lot of smaller images. You could also use large-scale text to achieve a similar effect.

4. Leave space

Leaving some areas on the image with no text or image is a good idea – too much going on in a poster design can be confusing and look too busy.

5. Create interest with your use of fonts

Using different fonts can be an easy way to grab attention. You can have text going in different directions, or use the letters to create interesting shapes. The most important thing is that it is still easily readable though!

6. Have fun with your design

Making band posters is one of the most fun design tasks. Let your imagination run wild. 

Design your poster using a free online photo editing tool such as


Learning Areas Capabilities
The Arts
  • Music
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Visual Arts
    • Explore and Express Ideas
    • Visual Arts Practices
    • Present and Perform
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Visual Communication Design
    • Explore and Represent Ideas
    • Present and Perform
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Personal and Social
  • Speaking and Listening


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