Esther Lofley

Esther's Royal Tour

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I am Esther Lofley, costumier, designer and visual artist - and the Principal Costumier and Costume Manager at the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB). I am heading to the USA and Europe in 2019 to learn from colleagues in ballet companies and bring that deep and varied knowledge back to New Zealand.

I have dedicated the last eleven years to mastering my craft at the RNZB and I am one of a handful of artisans working at this level in this field in New Zealand.

At this point in my career, I want to take my knowledge to the next level by undertaking progressive professional development in the discipline of building costume for live performance.

The Project:

In order to undertake this research and knowledge-sharing experience, I must travel to other leading performing arts workshops. Contributions to my Boosted campaign will go towards travel costs and living expenses.

Where smaller New Zealand workrooms encourage generalisation, the scale and number of international workrooms allows for the development of extremely specialised craftspeople and professionals with very specific knowledge. I am in a unique position with my broad knowledge where I will be able to work alongside specialists in numerous fields.

I will work with costume makers who are experts in their particular craft, i.e. pattern drafting, millinery, tutu construction, tailoring, and dyeing, to name a few!

I have made strong connections with leading international companies, having networked extensively with visiting choreographers, directors and costume doyens. I have a list of invitations and am building on existing relationships to find placements at leading international workrooms.

As well as the skills of costume making, I will also pay close attention to the way other costume departments are run to see if the RNZB and other kiwi workrooms can learn from the ways of working that develop in environments where there are more staff.

I will document my trip from both a technical perspective and by sharing my personal experiences and stories from my travels with everyone who enables me to undertake this project.


  • The Tour So Far


    Hello from New York!

    This trip has been everything I could have hoped for. The itinerary has been unfolding as i go, and I have been overwhelmed with the invitations and warm responses that I am receiving from the places I have visited.

    I have almost finished the American leg of the trip; next stop is the UK!

    I still feel amazed that you all contributed to making this trip a possibility for me.



    The Tour So Far
  • Many hands


    The last week of fundraising for my Boosted project!

    I'm deep into planning and my trip is going to begin in Oaklahoma in March. The RNZB workroom often makes costumes for other companies, and I will travel to Tulsa Ballet to help fit the dancers for their production ‘Tchaikovsky: the man behind the music’.

    I still have a way to go to get to my funding total, and I would love it if you could help me to share the word. Please share my project with your friends and family for whom this moght be of interest.

    All contributions make a huge difference

    Thank you!

    Many hands
  • Houston Calling....!


    Great news this week has come from Houston Ballet, which has agreed to have me come and spend time in the wardrobe. Their Head of Costume emailed to say:

    "I am thrilled to be asked to have you visit our Costume Shop… It'll be lovely to have you visit us and I also look forward to learning from you all I can."

    I am right in the midst of my fundraising, and am so thankful for your support. Please help me by sharing my Boosted project with your friends and family. Every donation - no matter the size - is so appreciated and will help me to realise this dream.



    Houston Calling....!
  • I've reached 14%!


    Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed so far. Words can't express my gratitude at your support!

    It's been a very busy week in the workroom as the RNZB gets ready for The Nutcracker. Our media maverick Jeremy made this short video - for your viewing pleasure.