Welcome to Episode #015 of That Shakespeare Life, the podcast that takes you behind the curtain and into the life of William Shakespeare.

I believe that if you want to understand Shakespeare’s plays, then understanding the life of William Shakespeare, the man, is essential. This podcast is designed to help you explore early modern England as Shakespeare would have lived it by interviewing the historians, performers, authors, and experts that know him best.

Ninya Mikhaila, sought after 17th century costumer, known for her intricate and accurate custom made designs, joins us to discuss Shakespeare’s dress and specifically to talk about the legend of Shakespeare’s poofy shorts and that iconic gold earring in his left ear.

Join the conversation below.

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Ninya Mikhalia is a maker of high quality reconstructions and replicas of historic dress, working to the individual needs of heritage sites, museums, and private clients. She is co-author of the best selling book The Tudor Tailor: reconstructing 16th century dress, published by Batsford in 2006

Ninya established her business in 1994 and in choosing to work in the field of sewing and tailoring she follows in the footsteps of previous generations. A new television series from BBC4, features Ninya’s work and is called A Stitch in Time. It will be presented by fashion historian Amber Butchart, taking a look at how clothes were made in the past, and what reconstructing them can tell us about the people that wore them. Ninya was costume supervisor for Britain’s Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court presented by Lucy Worsely and David Starkey on BBC2. In addition to her book, The Tudor Tailor, She is the co-author of the best selling book The Tudor Child: Clothing and Culture 1485 to 1625. She is co-editor of The King’s Servants: men’s dress at the accession of Henry VIII and The Queen’s Servants: Gentlewomen’s dress at the accession of Henry VIII.

Her expertise has been sought after by numerous historical television series done by the BBC, as well Historic Royal Palaces, The Royal Armouries, The National Trust, English Heritage, The National Archives, and Gainsborough’s House.  Ninya is married to Michael Perry, a sculptor and artist responsible for the illustrations in The Tudor Tailor range of books. They live in Nottingham with their two daughters.

In this episode, I’ll be asking Ninya about :

  • What are poofy pants really called, and did Shakespeare actually wear them?
  • How much of historical costumes are we able to recreate today?
  • Would it be appropriate for Shakespeare to wear a gold earring?
  • …and more!

Books Ninya Recommends:

Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion
Susan North, costumer creator at Victoria and Albert Museum
Citizen Portrait by Tarnya Cooper

Learn more about Ninya and her work in historical costuming here:

Ninya’s Website
Her new book, The Typical Tudor, which details the every day dress of ordinary people, is looking to be published in the near future.
If you are in the UK, you can watch her BBC4, A Stitch in Time episode on Marie Antoinette here. (due to international video regulations, BBC4 player is not available in the United States)

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