God is in the details. So they say. Words I tend to live by.
My next two posts will be a reflection on exactly that. I have talked before about my biggest struggle in doing a show like this, where the Costume team has an opportunity to create such elaborate, detailed pieces, is hearing viewers say, “when do we see that costume?”. WE SAW IT!!!! Three episodes ago! But you actually didn’t. The actor never got up from the table, we never saw them from the back, there was never a head to toe shot (almost never), it is too dark to see it if they did, etc.
I often threaten to abandon the details. “What is the point? ” I ask. “Why should my team bleed over these costumes for months, if we are never going to see them?!?! Don’t we want the audience to SEE this alien world??”
But I do get it. The show cannot add hours to loving close ups on buttons or pocket details. There is an awful lot of story to get into a 13 hours of television and every minute is precious. I also believe that even if we don’t see the details, we feel them. They are their subliminally (is that a word?), they help the audience to believe that the world is real, and they absolutely help the actor to feel the character. God IS in the details.
But I am a mere human, and I struggle. So I created my own art gallery, to celebrate the details. My work, the work of my team. I am an atheist, after all.
Let’s start with one of my favourite costumes this season. Annalise at Versailles. I love this costume. It is as close a reproduction as I could make of this costume. I try to pepper the show with reproductions. Not only does it add authenticity, but it validates various choices. this particular costume is about detail, but very importantly about color. This supports our choice to use a different palette in S2 than everyone expects. These are not the pastel, bon bon colours that come later in the 18th century. The colors of the mid 18th are much deeper and richer. Our story is just one King before the ears of Marie Antoinette that everyone associates with the 18th century.
This is a Casaquain from the Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris.
The differences are clear. Our colors are deeper. There comes a point when you have looked at every possible shade of whatever colour you are trying to match, the dye room is already behind schedule, and you have to LET IT GO, TERRY! It is close enough! We also just did not have the time to create that marvellous tulip hem and to piece the silver lace the way they did. I had to use a Dupioni silk in order to get the closest color. Very often these things are an exercise in compromise. But you accept it and move one. Cameras need to roll.
This is one Costume I really wish we had seen more of, as it was the Costume that gave us an introduction into the new world that Jamie and Claire were entering. This was worn by St. Germaine in Le Havre. Elegant and dangerous.
It was also important to present a new idea of what masculine clothing was in the 18th century.
I believe these were the first embroidered buttons we made.
Châtelaine, a woman who owns or controls a large house (a feminine form of Châtelain). Chatelaine (chain), a set of short chains on a belt worn by women and men for carrying keys, thimble and/or sewing kit, etc.
Unfortunately (sigh again), we never see this from the front, so I understand how no one caught it. But it was based on an amazing Balenziaga cloak.
Balenziaga was an amazing designer who did amongst other things, truly spectacular coats.
These cloaks are a rich opportunity to examine how circular fashion is. Designer always mine backwards, so its very easy for me to blur the lines for Claire’s costumes.
Our take on it. Again, sorry there is no shot from the front, but you can see what it looked like from the sketch above.
It is a lot of pictures, I know. But having the costumes you design, in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue is a once in a lifetime indulgence, and you will have to indulge me, as Ron did when he hired a photographer to take these.
I keep thinking that I am going to write these long fabulous posts about various things, but time is just running out. So I have decided to quick ones…
When the Saks windows came up, my first thought was “We need good mannequins!!!” Mannequins are a huge problem for period costumes. The costumes are built on corseted forms, and modern mannequins are not corseted. So you have to do surgery. I had to buy mannequins in NYC, and then go through a very complicated process of having them modified on another continent, from Scotland, via email. A less than perfect process, though Frank Glover Mannequins could not have done more to help us. Even offered to pick me up at the airport in NYC.
Once I arrived in NYC, there was a lot more to do, including remaking all the wigs that turned out to be too small.
But you can see the elaborate production, from start to finish. I started with the hair. We bought a couple of used mannequins to play with. Started with printer paper.
Order 18 mannequins, fingers crossed
What Terry does with her weekends…
Playing around with makeup, still wish we had gone with mannequins with faces!