Costume designer Susan Collins is the featured speaker on Sunday, March 3, at Mendocino’s Kelley House Museum beginning at 4 PM. The long-time member and co-manager of the Performing Arts Production Alliance will host “Sunday Afternoon With PAPA:  Costume Design by the Decade, 1910-1940.”

            Susan Collins has been costuming for Mendocino Theatre Company productions and the Gloriana Musical Theater for a number of years, designing and creating costumes for both children and adults.  She will discuss the “how tos” of costume design by the decades and the iconic pieces of clothing that define each era. Examples of garments from the first half of the 20th century will be on hand.

            A costume aficionado, Collins’ favorite era is the 1940s. In a 2011 article written for the Mendocino Beacon she said, “Can you imagine if the government started dictating to you what to wear in today’s society? That is exactly what happened during World War II and the population followed the rules and guidelines set out as their civil and patriotic duty.” She went on to describe a time when the amount of material used in civilian garments was restricted to ensure an adequate supply for the military. Zoot suits, popularized by jazz musicians and associated with “rebellion”, were verboten while abbreviated women’s styles were lauded, particularly in Hollywood. The minimal fashion was positioned as both morale boosting and cloth saving.

Costume afficinado Susan Collins

            Collins will present information about PAPA and explain her involvement with the non-profit organization. Home to a large collection of costumes, properties and sets, Fort Bragg-based PAPA recently opened a new expanded facility at 900 N. Franklin.

            Susan Collins serves on the Board of Directors of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, as president of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital Auxiliary, and volunteers at the Fort Bragg Library, Point Cabrillo Light Station and the Kelley House Museum, where she is a docent. She has been described as “a delightful example of an individual pursuing her passion through service to others.”

Susan Collins (photo Lawrence Wagner)

            “Sunday Afternoon With PAPA” is part of an ongoing speaker series presented by Mendocino’s non-profit history museum six times per year. Admission for Kelley House members is $5 and $7 for the public. The talk is offered in conjunction with the museum’s winter exhibit, “Form & Function of Fashion: The Way We Wore,” which runs through March 18. Exhibit hours are Fridays through Mondays, 11AM-3PM, and admission is by suggested donation of $5. The Kelley House is located at 45007 Albion Street, at Lansing, in Mendocino. For more information, please visit or call 707-937-5791.