Gillian Cosgriff on couture and creativity
Gillian Cosgriff is an Australian creative industry icon-in-the-making. I recently had the honour of dressing Gillian for the opening night of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The critically acclaimed play has won 24 major theatre awards and is the most-awarded production in the history of the prestigious Olivier Awards, winning a record-breaking nine awards including Best New Play and Best Director. Wow.
When ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ recently opened in Melbourne, Gillian Cosgriff was centre stage, but it’s only one of the many roles she’s known for. Gillian shone in the TV series, Offspring and House Husbands, and she’s been a backing vocalist for Kate Miller-Heidke in the past. Her theatre credits include The Pirates of Penzance (The Production Company), Loving Repeating (Vic Theatre Company) and Vivid White (Melbourne Theatre Company), among others, and she’s a much-loved comedian too. Oh, and she co-wrote a Greenroom Award winning opera – no biggie.
Gillian is a woman I like immensely, admire and respect. I am amazed at her creative talents and impressed by her dedication to her career. Dressing her in a bespoke scarlet gown, with the help of super-talented stylist Bec Cole, for the opening night of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ was an honour, and lots of fun …
How would you define your personal style?
That’s a super hard question! My wardrobe generally falls into two categories: rehearsing and performing. That means a lot of active wear and a lot of cocktail dresses with not much in between. Right now I’m working on finding some kind of middle ground – a lot of Pinterest searching, ‘French girl fashion,’ or, ‘What would Alexa Chung wear?’ and I’m also making a lot more of an effort to buy sustainable and ethically made clothing. Goodonyou.eco has been super helpful for this.
What one essential fashion piece should every woman own?
I would say jeans that make you feel like a superhero. A perfect fit that works with sneakers or heels and enough stretch that you can still do a strong lunge in them for comedic effect.
How did you come to settle on your Julie Goodwin design for the opening night of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?
I was working with an incredible stylist, Bec Cole, and we had sent a bunch of ideas back and forth before she put me in touch with Julie. I walked into Julie’s studio with Bec, and she already had a design and a colour in mind, and I just fell in love with it. It was perfect for someone as indecisive as I am! Julie was really open to my needs as well; I knew I’d want it sleeveless so I could be on the dance floor most of the night. Her work is stunning, and the attention to detail is next level. Julie added shoulder padding for a more structured silhouette, adjusted the leg split and cleavage to where I was comfortable, and all of this in a matter of days.
What does a week in your shoes look like?
I’m at the theatre Wednesday through Sunday doing eight shows a week to the most wonderful audiences you could ever ask for. Sunday night is drinks with the cast and crew, usually at the theatre and then we’ll head to Supper Club or Butcher’s Diner. Monday and Tuesday I have off so I’ll be working on other projects at home, catching up with mates, or watching Rupaul’s Drag Race and Survivor with my lovely boyfriend.
Your Instagram bio includes singer, songwriter, comedian, musician, actor and procrastinator. What profession do you most love stepping into and why?
I love them all equally, although whenever I’m doing one thing I tend to romanticise all the others. The grass is greener, you know? I really love writing because I like to be in charge, so my solo work as a musical comedian is great for that. It can get really lonely though so performing every night with a cast of wonderful, hilarious humans is a treat too. Obviously, the procrastination spans all of these other art forms…
What was it like working with Julie?
I couldn’t have imagined a better experience. This was my first time having a big fancy opening night to go to and she was incredible. I met her on Monday, had a fitting on Wednesday, and went to the party Saturday night feeling like a queen. I don’t think it’s too far fetched to describe her as my literal fairy godmother. She was so thoughtful, and her work is impeccable – even so far as having the dress lined in it’s own fabric so that it looked stunning but felt as comfortable as luxurious pyjamas. I can’t recommend her enough. A friend of mine is having Julie make her wedding dress, and I’d take any opportunity to work with her again.
You have to pack a bag and you don’t know where you’re going. What three essential fashion items do you pack?
Oooh tricky! My old faithful little black dress, my favourite jeans, and my black leather jacket. Also, I intend to cheat and stuff the jacket pockets with earrings and scarves and t-shirts, like wearing all your clothes onto the plane to avoid checking your bag.