Costume designs

All about the inspiration behind the costumes for Romeo and Juliet

The design and costumes of Romeo and Juliet were conceived by Tatyana Van Walsum. She wanted the costumes to have an off the peg feel, and initially the wardrobe team looked for high street clothes for Romeo and Juliet’s costumes but it was found that these were not suitable to dance in. Romeo’s suit was cut in one city, dyed in another and tailored in yet another, while Juliet’s dress was handmade to look off the peg but adapted so she was able to dance in it.

The Bias cut made popular by Madeleine Vionnet revolutionized fashion in the 1920s & 30s Scottish Ballet sometimes requires expert help with designs. The specialist who made the bias cut Capulet women’s dresses also made some of the dancer’s dresses for Pennies from Heaven and Red Riding Hood from The Sleeping Beauty


Romeo & Juliet Scroll Over






Design Brief
  • The design conveys the shifts in era.
  • Iconic symbols such as the Vespa will represent specific eras
  • Colour is highly important: red is used to express passion and drama and the exact shade was subject to much debate, while the blue worn by Romeo and Juliet expresses innocence and has a softer quality.
  • Backdrop is a cloth with video projections of photographic images of streets & avenues from news footage.
  • Essence of design ladders to create different shapes and spaces.
  • Costume: no tights or tutus. Sleek and straightforward, almost street fashion.
  • Dancers on pointe


Costume design facts

All costumes have a prototype
Each dancer has at least two fittings
All costume makers will watch first rehearsal at the theatre to ensure they are happy
Lighting versus costume colour often causes debate and experimentation in productions

Boot facts

The boots are very similar to those worn in The Sleeping Beauty
The boots are very tight and getting them on takes some skill
Both male and female dancers have had to learn to get the boots on and off
The boots cost £300 pound a pair and they have a special flexible sole to dance in.

Capulet's Ballroom

Head of Wardrobe Caro Harkness talks about the costumes from Romeo and Juliet.

See the original designs

Romeo & Juliet Design Sketches






Learn more about the design process

Research the politics of Italy’s history to learn more about the context of Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo and Juliet.


Biography - Tatyana van Walsum

Tatyana van Walsum was born in England in 1967. She completed her degree in Costume design at Wimbledon school of Art in 1991. Later she went to the Motley Theatre design Course, London, graduating in 1995. Since 1996 she has lived and worked in Amsterdam.

Over the years she has designed for theatre plays, ballet, and opera. Her work also includes designs for museum exhibitions and film.

Tatyana frequently collaborates with Krzysztof Pastor and the Dutch National Ballet, working on Crossing Paths in 2006. (Set and Costumes). Voice (Costumes), 2004, In Light and Shadow (Set and Costumes) 2001 and Do Not Go Gentle (Set and Costumes) Other works include Berlioz Fantastique (set and costume) at the Australian Ballet in 2007, Tristan and Isolde (Costumes) at the Royal Swedish Ballet in 2006 and full length modern dance works for Dominique Dumais, resident choreographer at The Mannheim Ballet, in Germany, pieces include; Time and other Matter 2006, Lebenslenien 2005, Broken Verse 2004, and their first work together, SkinDivers created at the Komische Opern, in Berlin, and later revived in Mannheim.

For many years she collaborated with choreographer Martino Muller. Projects have included: R.A.M for Stuttgart Ballet, 1998, revived for the Gothenburg ballet in 2000, were it was awarded best ballet production of the year, Le jour meme created for the Lyon Ballet in 1996, for which she received the Benois de le Dance Award for best scenography in ballet.

Recent work for theatre has included set design for The Pelikaan by Strindberg, directed by Olivier Provily for the theatre company Het Zuidelijk Toneel, and set design for Cecelia directed by Moniek Kramer, for Orkater. Also for Orkater she has designed the sets for Ik, nominated by the NRC handelsblad for Theatre Play of the Year and Hof van Haille in 2005. Both pieces were written by Geert de Lageveen and Leopold de Witte and directed by Gijs de Lange.

Opera design includes sets for costumes for Cosi Fan Tutte directed by Nigel Warrington, Aarhus Opera Festival, Denmark, Winner of Reumert Pris award, For Best Opera production of the year.


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