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St. Charles North graduate pursues designing 'Speck'-tacular costumes

Some write, use photos or other mediums to spread messages. But St. Charles North High School graduate Connor Speck found a different way to communicate his ideas.

That way is through theater clothing and costumes.

“Clothing is the first thing you see on a character,” Speck said. “That’s what’s so interesting about clothing, is how much it can say without opening your mouth.”

In middle school and high school, Speck found his way into the performance side of theater, seeing how productions built worlds and provided commentary through dialogue on stage. Once he graduated from high school, he began his journey at Illinois Wesleyan University in 2013. Then, he found he was more interested in the clothing and costume aspects of theater.

But even before then, Speck was interested in the fashion world.

“Ever since I was little, I would design clothes, such as ballgowns and other elaborate costumes,” he said.

Speck said two people have played key roles in his life: his aunt Marty Rubin and his sister Mallory.

“[My aunt Marty] was very interested in clothing, specifically shoes,” Speck said. “A lot of my sketches when I was a little kid were inspired by her because of her passion for clothing.”

His sister also shares a passion for fashion.

“My best friends are not into fashion, so he is the one I would talk to about that,” she said. “When we see a designer reveal a new piece of clothing, we get really excited and talk about it. It’s cool to have someone like that.”

Speck has helped with different shows, such as Geneva High School’s recent production of "Alice in Wonderland" and Collaboraction Theatre’s shows for Kidzapalooza at Lollapalooza.

He graduated from Illinois Wesleyan in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater art, with a focus on costume and make-up design, and a minor in art focusing on graphic design. Recently, he's been back in the Illinois Wesleyan costume department helping with its upcoming production of “South Pacific.”

“It’s been a great experience to work with him and see him grow,” Illinois Wesleyan University costume shop manager Susan High said. “I think what makes him great as a designer is that he has a great personality to work with.”

Once Speck finishes helping with “South Pacific,” he’ll continue to follow his passion.

“In a dream world, I’d love to keep working in Chicago with costume and fashion, as well as freelance design pieces,” he said. “I also want to work at a world show the first time it premieres.”

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