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Costumes from The Virgin Queen

The following are publicity photographs from Radio Times and Weekend magazine of the TV drama The Virgin Queen. The costume designer was Amy Roberts



I'd appreciate it if you'd link to lauralorien or unlockd_closet (or http://www.gardensoflorien.co.uk" if you use these for graphics on on your website as I spent ages scanning them in.

*More photos to add shortly*

             



This is also another view of the last dress here.




Information

From Weekend magazine


Eighteen dresses have been made for Anne-Marie Duff, complete with hip rills, petticoats and fathingales. Costume designer Amy Roberts explains how her designs subtly reflect Elizabeth's changing fortunes over the course of the drama.


"In the first episode, when Elizabeth is in danger, her dresses are in pale greys and chocolate browns. When she becomes Queen, and she's enjoying a sexual frisson with Dudley, her wardrobe is full of golds and reds, with rich velvets and brocades. In middle age, the colours become autumnal. By episode four, when her power is waning, there is barely any colour at all."




Costumes for The Virgin Queen


The following information is from the official BBC website and is placed here for educational reference only. No breach of copyright is intended.



Making Costumes for The Virgin Queen


Amy Roberts was the costume designer on The Virgin Queen. She has worked on a wide variety of dramas, including Ever Decreasing Circles, Brassed Off, Cold Comfort Farm, Station Jim, William and Mary and Carrie's War.



Amy started preparation on The Virgin Queen twelve weeks before the shoot began. At this stage the casting had not been finalised and so she had to start work without knowing who she was designing for. Even when the casting is agreed it can be very hard to pin down busy actors for fittings. Some of the cast were working on other productions which were filming in other countries, so it was virtually impossible to get any time with them.



"I was in huge farthingales, huge fan ruffs and all sorts. The designs were amazing. Amy's a genius."
~ Anne Marie Duff



The job of creating designs for a TV drama such as this begins with research. Amy and her assistant got to work reading books, visiting museums and immersing themselves in the styles of the Elizabethan era. However, once they had got to grips with the feel of the times, they cast all that research aside. They have to bear in mind that they are re-creating a world for modern eyes and they will let their dramatic instincts guide them more than a slavish search for historical accuracy. They also created mood boards, collecting pictures from modern fashion magazines that had the attitude that they were looking to create.



This approach can be seen particularly in the way the men's costumes have been styled. If the actors had been dressed in the authentic Elizabethan style, they would have had to wear large knickerbockers that would have made them look comical to today's audience. Amy was keen to find a way of making the male characters look sexy, so worked to create a style of costume that emphasised the chest, making the upper body look wider and narrowing towards the waist, pointing towards the groin. She also used darker colours for the lower parts of the costume and brighter colours on top, echoing the modern style of wearing brighter t-shirts and tops over jeans. In addition she tried to cut down on the use of ruffs, using them only for the very formal occasions. Where possible the men were given open necklines.



"I've been pining for a doublet and breeches, so it was such a pleasure to get into them and get a sword." - Tom Hardy



According to the actors on the production the male costumes were very effective. They very quickly found themselves walking with a real swagger and the sexuality of the characters comes across much more effectively than if they were constricted by the more unusual fashions of the day.



Amy also used colours deliberately to create a sense of the passage of time. At the beginning of the drama Elizabeth is dressed in very dark, drab colours. As her life changes, the clothes also change, and when she becomes queen she is dressed in a range of bright, dramatic, confident shades. These colours become more muted and faded as she ages and starts to lose her grip on the throne. When the Essex's group enter, they wear very bright hues, the impression is almost like wearing gang colours, as they bring new blood into the court.



What happens to costumes after filming ends?



A costume designer always has to find ways to make the best of a limited budget. On a production such as The Virgin Queen it's not possible to make costumes for every single one of the cast, so many pieces will be rented from costume-hire shops. However, the key characters should have their outfits made to give the drama a distinctive look. At the outset Amy worked closely with the director and set designers in order to co-ordinate the style for the series. Then she started gathering interesting textiles from anywhere she could find them, such as boot-fairs, markets and so on. Sometimes these fabrics were actually used to make the costumes or simply as a form of inspiration.



"I like being in corsets. It's easier to suspend disbelief when you walk into an extraordinary place and everyone's dressed up in 16th-century costume." - Tara Fitzgerald



The costume department will help the lead actors in and out of their costumes on set, so the clothes they wear can be complicated and carefully structured. However the supporting artists and extras have to dress themselves, so their clothes have to be made more like stage costumes. For example dresses will have boning built into the dress, eliminating the need for corsets, making them easy to get in and out of quickly.



Although these costumes and associated accessories such as ruffs and collars are hired in, they are usually tweaked and improved before going before the cameras. This way the costumes aren't recognisable from previous productions they may have appeared in. However, a costume designer may well recognise costumes they've designed appearing in other programmes at a later date! Once the filming has finished most of the costumes will be handed over to a costume hire company, they will be held back until the programme has aired and then added to the stocks available for hire for other productions.



"Period costumes are great because you put all that on and immediately you feel transported." - Joanne Whalley



The costume designer doesn't actually make the costumes herself. Once the designs are completed they will be sent to professional costume makers. This might be at the costume hire company or some of the many skilled freelancers working across the country. Some of these will be specialists in particular aspects of costume making, such as hats or gloves.



Once all the items are made they are sent to the production's costume department to gather together and prepare for filming. Each item will be carefully labelled and stored so it can easily be found later. Once filming starts the costume team are kept busy from 7am to 7pm, organising the costumes, dressing the actors, making any adjustments required and repairing the day to day damage that is bound to happen on a busy set.




Tags: film designs
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