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As Seen In: Dreaming Whilst Black

September 11, 2023 - Alice Barnes
As Seen In: Dreaming Whilst Black

You best believe we let out an “Ooohhh” when we spotted Tatty Devine jewellery in BBC Three’s NEW comedy, Dreaming Whilst Black. Exploring the world of Kwabena, an aspiring film-maker who bumps into Amy, an old friend and style icon, before embarking on their next project together. We sat down with the actress who plays Amy, Dani Moseley and stylist to the stars, Jodie-Simone to talk about everything from power dressing to mirroring plot lines via expressive accessories…

First up, let’s chat to the Costume Designer for the show, Jodie-Simone Howe…


TD: Can you walk us through the process of creating a visual identity for a television character like Amy in "Dreaming Whilst Black"? How do you bring the character to life through costume design?

JS: I always start with the script first, I ask myself who the character is based on what's on the page and then I fill in the gaps of the bits we don't know; using clues given to us by the character's history and heritage, class and status to the job role.

I usually couple this with research on the period or environment but as Dreaming Whilst Black is a contemporary show and London-based (my home), I had a lot of fun using the knowledge I had already. I did do a little delve into the world of Advertisement though!

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I then find images for inspiration of people or things that feel like the character to create a mood board, that then becomes the character's "bible" or reference. This needs to then be approved by the Directors and Producers but once we agree on the vision it's all systems go! SHOPPING!!!

TD: The best part!

The design work for Amy takes us on a journey, when she's at work she is more casual but outside of that environment (like at the Mixer and Premiere) she's actually a boss lady Producer, often wearing suits. So when she wears a suit to work and is wearing her Tatty Devine Enough is Enough Necklace, we know that she is about to take her power and agency back.

TD: We love that, talk about power dressing.

Especially with Amy, I used my own experiences of the Media/TV industry. I used to be a Researcher in Factual Entertainment Television. I have always dressed quite vibrantly and one day someone made a snide remark saying "You know that you aren't on screen right?' I didn't always fit in, I saw that in Amy. 

With Assistant Costume Designer, Comet, we realised when preparing for the show that we hadn't seen a character on British Television that looked like us in all of our quirky, vibrant and wonderful ways. We often looked to American TV characters to find visual representations of ourselves, so we used Amy as a vehicle to showcase that narrative for the quirky and bold people.

TD: How was it working with Dani on the styling for Amy? 

Dani was a DREAM to work with, she was so supportive of the ideas that I had for her and we worked well together to build a well-rounded character - someone that felt real and cool, who you’d love to have as a bestie. Just as Amy is to Kwabena in the show. 

TD: How did Amy’s personality and background influence the choices you made in terms of clothing and accessories?

JS: Amy is confident and proud of her British and Nigerian heritage: at work, she expresses herself through her attire, as she often doesn't feel like she can say exactly what she needs to. I tried to amplify both of these attributes of her personality and heritage so she also wears a Nigerian pendant coupled with any other jewellery - West Africans but specifically Nigerians are some of the most beautiful and proud people I have ever met.

I wanted Amy’s outfits to allow her to take up space at her job and feel warm and vibrant, even when she is made to feel small. I really geek out when I can really work clothing and accessories together, it seamlessly gives more depth to the characters. These pieces are often great surprises for those who are paying close attention to the little details.

TD: Tatty Devine jewellery plays a role in Amy's styling on the show (thank you!). What does it symbolise for Amy's character?

JS: Having personally been a fan of Tatty Devine since the early 2000's I knew that Tatty Devine jewellery was a perfect piece to our Amy puzzle. Your jewellery added vibrant colours and quirky designs whilst simultaneously saying something.

Without Amy uttering a single word she was about to speak words of "Love", "Enough is Enough" and "Ooooh" all through her jewellery. She was also able to show support for Grenfell, and say "This is a bit sh*t" through her clothing. Again it was important for Amy to be able to say what she needed to, at times when using her voice wasn't an option.

TD: As a costume designer, what role do you believe accessories like our Ooohhh Statement Necklace play in building a character's visual identity? How do they add depth and nuance to their portrayal on screen?

JS: I think jewellery can be used to amplify the overall voice of the character. It can act as a small detail or a big statement. Sometimes a pair of earrings or necklace can be what takes the costume from basic to another level. 

Amy wanted and needed to make statements throughout the series. I used Tatty Devine jewellery to drop little Easter eggs or clues as to what was happening in the scene.

The POP Love Necklace was a reminder for Amy to love herself despite her current work environment, the Ooohhh Statement Necklace was right for Amy because she had news to share with Kwabena and the Enough is Enough Necklace (spoiler alert) was the perfect coupling for her when she was ready to leave her job.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me as Dreaming Whilst Black holds a special place in my heart. (Inputs "LOVE" necklace here) lol!

 Thank YOU, Jodie-Simone: it made our hearts so full to see our jewellery on such a powerhouse of a character! Now, we’ve talked about Amy a lot, it must be time to chat with actress Dani Moseley…


TD: Hey Dani! What role does costume play in how you inhabit a character?

DM: ‘Ooohhh’ good question - necklace reference there lol! 

For me as an actor, if done really well (as Jodie-Simone did) it can really enhance how I get out of ‘Dani’ & into the character I need to portray with a swift transition. Jodie-Simone spoke with me about all her thoughts and they sounded great but when she sent me the moodboard… I INSTANTLY fell in love with ALL her ideas, especially as she clearly stated for each page ‘why’ it worked for Amy. 

When we had the fitting… I was just blown away by the level of detail going into the colours of the outfits, the backstory of them, as well as the jewellery that matches and compliments the look. There was a lot of ‘Yaaaaaasssssss’ going on in that fitting room!

We were speaking to the audience with the clothes and it’s the first time I’ve worked on a project where that’s been the case. Amy dresses how I would LOVE to look: it’s bold, it’s funky, it’s giving fashionista with a subtle balance of ‘you can’t help but notice me’ but not so much that I look like I’m on a runway. It was an actual DREAM to present Jodie-Simone’s vision and to complete the character of Amy with such confidence and comfortability, which isn't a given in this industry

TD: If you shared wardrobes with Amy, which piece of Tatty Devine jewellery would you reach for?

DM: Oh I’d be wearing ALL of them at some point! There are a couple of relationships I could have worn the Enough is Enough Necklace for but my FAVE was the POP LOVE Necklace. I am a sucker for colour coordination and all things colourful, so this necklace just works with everything, even with my comfortable blacked-up hoodie go-to. Love is an important word in my life, so I think Amy would just have to gift me that one, as I’d be borrowing it a lot - haha! 

TD: How do you personally express yourself through your clothing and accessories?

DM: My clothes can really reflect my mood but mainly (when I go out) reflect me as proud Black Woman. I’m an ‘Afrocentric’ gurl through & through! I love the patterns, the colours, the jewellery, the head wraps & I love the statements they make. They give me grounding to walk through life contently. 

TD: Sounds like dopamine dressing to the max!

I call myself a ‘creative bunny’ because I hop from one creative field to another, Whether that be acting and writing to voice over and facilitating. I just love to create and tell stories: I feel my clothing can reflect that intrigue of ‘She looks interesting… What is she about?’ Whether it be from my bangles to my earrings to the neckline of a top. 

TD: We love that approach to dressing! Thank you so much for chatting to us Dani.

Inspired? Catch Dreaming Whilst Back on BBC IPlayer NOW and express yourself with our bestselling acrylic jewellery!

Alice Barnes