Two thousand pairs of shoes.
I was doing a little math today when explaining just how big and complicated Season Two is to a friend. I was saying that most people think in terms of finished costumes as if they all just sort of sit somewhere waiting to be picked up by my team or any of the other teams connected to other shows, in some giant warehouse, the size of three IKEA distribution centers. A magical warehouse perhaps, where costumes are grown, like hot house tomatoes, an endless supply.
The film and television business is a magical and wondrous place filled with magical and wondrous thinking. Magic really does happen. “Make it so!!” and poof it appears. Tinkerbell waves her magical wand, and it all appears on a screen. Click your heels together three times, wriggle your nose, throw some fairy dust as hard as you can, right into someone’s eyes, and above all else BELIEVE AS HARD AS YOU CAN !!!!! The Emperor is NOT naked!!!!!
Anyway, back to the math problem. Its one of those fun word problems.
If each suit, frock coat, waistcoat and breeches, needs 40 buttons, and you need to make 600 suits, how many buttons do you need?
Answer: 24,0000 buttons.
Here is another one.
If you have 900 extras who need shoes. But you need two pairs of shoes for every extra, because shoe size in not something that can scientifically be predicted, how many shoes do you need?
Answer: 1800 pairs of shoes.
Okay, so that math is simple enough. Now, head on down to that magical costume growing factory and go to the shoe field and pick 1800 shoes. Make sure you go the correct field, because you don’t want 14th century shoes, or 19th century shoes. You need 18th century shoes. And while you are there, stop at the button orchard and pick all those 24,000 buttons off the 18th century shank button trees.
Thank God everything is free!!!!
Ooooops. Looks like you are wrong. The Emperor is definitely naked. There is no magic wand, you are not wearing magic slippers, your bucket of fairy dust is empty, and you just cannot “make it SO.”
It is just math, it is physics. Round pegs, square holes. Blood from a stone, proverbial rock and a hard place. Those costumes don’t exist, there are not rooms of period shoes waiting to be collected, somewhere you have to find 24,000 buttons. And those are not 24,000 random buttons. They are 600 matched sets of buttons in the right sizes, that you can AFFORD.
The shoes? Well you can have them made at £250 per pair, but then there is no money left for clothing. Naked Emperor, again.
Hmmmmm, what does a costume designer and her team of costumers do? They manufacture miracles. There is a very crude saying in our world, “let me just chew up some fabric, and shit out a costume”. I believe the art department has a similar saying, involving wood.
Now if you look at all of it, the buttons, the shoes, the petticoats, shifts, shirts, stocks, gloves, mitts, scarves, fichus, bum rolls, stockings, corsets, aprons, hats, cuffs, belts, buckles, etc., as well as the gowns, frock coats, waistcoats, cloaks, and capes, and you apply the same mathematical approach, you will have an idea of what we REALLY do.
Because once you find all 24,000 of those buttons, they have to be sewn on. And once you and your team spend countless hours on EBAY in the evenings and on weekends buying shoes that look as close as possible to 18th century shoes, you have to trim, buckle and bow them, to look something like real 18th century shoes, that can go on camera and don’t cause the audience to laugh you off screen.
Look at an entire costume, from the skin out, and do the math.
I am not sure if I am even supposed to say any of this out loud. Did the boy who shouted out, “But he has no clothes on!!!”, get stoned to death, marched off to prison?
But I am going to say it, what the hell? That is the beauty of social media. There are no walls, we are all one. We all share, and everyone is part of the process.
Let the light shine into the darkness.