Any actor worth his or her salt can convey you to another reality with just a bare stage and the power of their thespian craft, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have the character’s costumes thought out in great detail!
“Costumes are not always designed to be seen. They’re designed sometimes to be a complete part of that character, so you’re accepting what they’re wearing without thinking. I don’t want everyone looking at the frock. That’s the hardest thing. Some of the costumes I’m most proud of are the ones you wouldn’t necessarily think about because the clothes naturally belong to the character. They don’t look like actors in costumes. They look like real people.” Susannah Buxton, Costume Designer for “Downton Abbey”. (From an interview at TIME Entertainment)
I spent a chunk of time Saturday wandering through the world of “Once Upon A Time,” “Downton Abbey,” Game of Thrones”, “Sons of Anarchy” and more – no, the actors weren’t there but the costumes – the “natural clothing of the characters” – were!
The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) have their sixth annual exhibit, “The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design”, in downtown Los Angeles at the moment. Featuring 75 costumes from 16 shows, mini-series and movies, the exhibit was amazing. There were costumes from all the shows nominated for prime time Emmys, as well as many other programs. There’s a slideshow with 38 photos from the exhibit here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/art-of-television-costume_n_1724939.html (Be sure to scroll down to find the photo slideshow attached to that article since we weren’t allowed to take any photos – these are the best I’ve found.)
I spent the most time about an inch away from the costumes for OUAT (watched carefully by the friendly but efficient security guards), peering at the details, oohing and ahhing. The exhibit has Snow White’s incredible, swan feathered white dress, her garb in the Enchanted Forest, Prince Charming’s dress uniform and his everyday leathers, one of Queen Regina’s dresses, Red Riding Hood’s fairy tale garb, the Black Knight….it’s hard to know where to look first as they were all wonderful and fascinating. The Genie’s costume was the most astounding, with all this incredible detail – beading and “gems” and designs you never see on the small screen, no matter how high def your TV may be. His accessories are to die for!
When watching the show last season, I wasn’t that inspired by Snow’s everyday garb in the fairytale world but having seen the clothes up close and personal now, I’m in awe of how the supremely talented costume designer, Eduardo Castro, made it appear to be a sensible set of clothing for a woman who was having to live by her wits in the woods. Definitely fits her “badass…bandit” situation, as he’s been quoted as saying on Zap2It. Red Riding Hood’s skirt and cloak have a similar, very believable, slightly rundown and worn air to them, as does Prince Charming’s wardrobe. His dress uniform actually looks less believable than the everyday clothing.
I used to sew all my own clothes in college and made all my daughters’ costumes, including the ones they needed for various plays throughout high school, so at this exhibit I took a tremendous interest in the small details that convey so much for a character, building up to a totally believable picture, even if the audience can’t see them. Let me tell you, Mr. Gold’s jacket has the most amazing fastenings!
“Game of Thrones” was represented by far fewer costumes, again all extremely well done, looking as if they had been lifted from the characters’ closets or trunks just a few moments before.
“Downton Abbey” basically had one costume for each main character and the “Maggie Smith” dress was absolutely gorgeous.
It was quite imposing to stand in front of the “men” of “Sons of Anarchy”!
After one last trip around the OUAT display, and a wistful gaze at the “Henry” mannequin, clutching The Book (Yes, that one, with ALL the secrets LOL), my daughter and I ventured back out into the LA heat and traffic after a magical hour.
Someday I’d LOVE to see the characters from my Ancient Egyptian paranormal universe come to life in similar fashion. Well, an author can dream, right?
What show or move has your favorite costumes?