About Leann Marie
From leaving school, Leann very quickly set out on her creative path and has worked professionally within the design and sewing trade, in one context or another, for thirteen years. Upon leaving school, Leann specialised in Art & Design: (Textiles & Fashion) and Communication Studies. In 2004 she then completed her Honours Degree in Costume Design & Making for Screen and Stage which prepared her for a professional career in the world of performance and entertainment. Leann was fortunate enough to work at the Crucible Theatre, The Studio and also the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield as part of the wardrobe team.
“In many ways, working with my brides today is not dis similar to working with actors. The bride is the centre of her very own stage. Attention to detail, empathy and a calm approach are essential in both contexts.”
Having worked in theatre, it is not a surprise that much of her work is now from the bridal industry. She is accustomed to working with structured silhouettes, large volumes of fabric, and her studies in the history of fashion are useful when creating a vintage or period look. Having spent many evenings dressing actors and maintaining dress stock Leann has built up a wealth of experience in dressing and alterations.
“There are many varied approaches to constructing a beautiful gown. So when altering garments, particularly the bridal gowns, it requires the seamstress to be sympathetic to the existing methods used. In my opinion, completing technical alterations and remodels well, takes more skill than constructing from scratch. The seamstress needs to be adept in each possible approach.”
In addition to working at Sheffield Theatres, Leann has accrued credits in short films, television and London based Theatre. It was in London, that Leann was approached to work for six months with a Shoreditch based dress agency. Leann’s costume background crossed paths with the London fashion scene and provided the opportunity to develop business and networking skills within a new environment.
“It was a great job actually and it was my only ever foray into retail. We took high end catwalk pieces and film shoot stock as well as second hand couture and turned it all round ready for sale. It was a boutique environment, pieces were one-off, and the clients were discerning. I loved working there, and it broadened my horizons beyond the world of costume.”
During her time in London, Leann later completed a PGCE in Design & Technology with the intention of supply teaching in between show schedules. Her skills, however, were quickly noted, and as a result of many job opportunities, Leann began full time work teaching Art & Textiles, which later led to management opportunities.
“It took me by surprise just how creative teaching could be, and working with young people presented a whole new set of challenges, which I loved. Teaching is a very engaging and absorbing profession and I have worked with some fantastic students.”
In 2013, Leann reduced her teaching hours in order to take on creative projects and by 2015, had returned to her trade full time. Having returned to Sheffield, this is where she has based and built up Leann Marie Design, providing personalised sewing and design services. Additional to bespoke bridal and occasion wear, Leann undertakes alteration work and has paired with a number of bridal stockists who outsource their gowns to her for adjustments. Her teaching skills are not wasted however, as Leann offers a suite of adult sewing courses and also delivers short courses at Nottingham Trent University.
“I still like to teach occasionally and actually it’s a good way to meet other talented people. The adult classes can become quite collaborative and inspiring and for my delegates, they benefit from having an industry professional who also has a formal grounding in the pedagogies of teaching.”