Sunday 26 May 2024
12.6 C

Lord Byron costume recreated by Nottingham student for 200-year anniversary

Lord Byron’s iconic Albanian costume, which features in one of the most famous portraits of the Nottingham writer and poet, has been intricately recreated by a Nottingham Trent University student.  


Phoebe Godsmark, who is studying BA (Hons) Costume Design and Construction at the Nottingham School of Art & Design, designed the outfit for her final year project and as part of a Newstead Abbey ‘Try on Byron’ brief for students. 

Phoebe Godsmark with the outfit model 

The costume is currently on display at Lord Byron’s former home for visitors to try on as part of a year of events to mark 200 years since the death of the infamous poet. It has also been exhibited at the NTU Graduate Festival 24 student showcase. 

- Advertisement -


The replica was inspired by Phoebe’s research into the key moments in Byron’s life, when she came across images of the original 1813 portrait of him dressed in Albanian costume by Thomas Phillips. 

Embroidered waistcoat

Phoebe handmade a shirt, skirt, waistcoat, jacket, cape, hat, gaiters, and shoes to recreate the whole ensemble. As the original outfit is housed in a private collection, she used images and a copy of one of Byron’s waistcoats from the Newstead Abbey collection to keep the designs as close to the original garments as possible.  


The intricate embroidery and embellishments were all hand sewn by Phoebe, who plans to specialise in embroidery when she graduates. This included around 110m of soutache cord – small lines of gold – on the jacket and waistcoat. She also had to design the pieces to withstand wear and tear from handling by visitors. 


Phoebe, age 21 from Tunbridge Wells, said “The inspiration behind my costume came from my research and the idea of showing a timeline of key moments in Byron’s life in my design scheme, such as when he was young and as a member of parliament. I have a great love of historical research and really enjoyed that side of this project. 


“I wanted to create a replica of the 1813 portrait because it is one of his most iconic portraits, in some ways I view this costume as his way of showing off power as it is such a detailed and intricate costume.” 


Adrian Davies, principal curator (Design & Collections) at Nottingham City Museums & Galleries, and NTU BA (Hons) Theatre Design alumnus, said: “Lord Byron was a Romantic poet considered one of the first celebrities due to his sensational and complex lifestyle and the way he managed his image.  


“He loved partying with his student friends and would often dress up in monk costumes from theatrical suppliers. He also collected clothes from his travels, which we have on display at Newstead Abbey, and was passionate about theatre.  


“The brief for “Try on Byron” was to celebrate Byron’s passions and interest in clothing and to encourage visitors to Newstead Abbey to think about him in fresh ways such as trying on clothing that interpreted him in some way through the eyes of students who were similar to his own age at the time.  


“The students each responded to the brief in their own way. Phoebe has spent hours hand stitching the braid into place. The sheer weight of some of the costume elements she has created in itself is interesting. It seems a labour of love which I’m sure Byron would have appreciated!” 


The Nottingham Trent University (NTU) Graduate Festival 24 will see hundreds of final year art and design students putting their work on public display. 

Follow The Wire on TikTok, Facebook, X, Instagram. Send your story to or via WhatsApp on 0115 772 0418