Costume Designer Andrea Galer: The Frock Flicks Guide

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I went through a phase of actively disliking Andrea Galer‘s costume designs, mostly because of how bored I was by the costumes in Persuasion (2007) and Miss Austen Regrets. Now, looking at her work overall, she’s clearly talented, and it’s not REALLY her fault that most Regency era womenswear bores me. She’s particularly known for costuming modern-set (Richard E. Grant-starring) Withnail & I, but she’s done a ton of historical stuff as well. She also has a shop in London where she makes clothes based on her designs. She’s won two major awards (Emmy for Jane Eyre (2006), BAFTA for Bleak House) and been nominated for more (Emmy for Bleak House, Costume Designers Guild for Jane Eyre and Bleak House).

First, an interesting quote on working on period television productions:

“A costume designer doesn’t make costumes, but brings in and organizes the right team. It’s with this team that I set up temporary workshops for different productions whilst remaining responsible for controlling the overall look of the show’s costumes. The process has become much harder in contrast to previous years when television shows were planned and budgeted a year in advance. It’s a regrettable system because the fast turnaround means that corners get cut. When you have to get somebody to run something up quickly, you don’t have the time to perfect it and you end up thinking, ‘that looks a bit crude’” (Bringing Portraits Alive: Catherine Paula Han Interviews Andrea Galer, the Costume Designer for Jane Eyre).

 

Poirot (1994-96)

She designed three different episodes of the David Suchet-starring TV series about the famed 1930s murder detective.

“Hercule Poirot’s Christmas” (1994)

1994 poirot - Hercule Poirot's Christmas

“Hickory Dickory Dock” (1995)

1995 poirot- Hickory Dickory Dock

“Dumb Witness” (1996)

1996 poirot - Dumb Witness

PUPPER

 

Firelight (1997)

Sophie Marceau and Stephan Dillane starred in this film about an 1840s governess.

“When I worked on the film Firelight, Bill’s [Nicholson] script and direction meant that I intentionally tried to create costumes that emphasized the narrative’s resemblance to Jane Eyre [1847]” (Bringing Portraits Alive: Catherine Paula Han Interviews Andrea Galer, the Costume Designer for Jane Eyre).

1997 Firelight

I like the cut of the bodice and those cap sleeves!

 

Mansfield Park (1999)

The semi-modernized feature film adaptation of the Jane Austen novel.

“It had to be correct but also something modern-day audiences could imagine themselves wearing… [Director] Patricia [Rozema] had researched the novel and the period quite painstakingly. But she was clear that she didn’t want me to keep harking on about period. She wanted us to feel we could play around… I couldn’t quite bring myself to use zips, but I did deviate from the period by using bias cutting, which wasn’t invented until 100 years later” (“Corsets and costumes,” Times of London, March 27, 2000).

Mansfield Park (1999)

The snobby sisters.

Mansfield Park (1999)

Fanny visiting her poor family.

1999 Mansfield Park

The opium-drugged matriarch (and PUG).

 

The Way We Live Now (2001)

British TV miniseries adaptation of the 1875 Anthony Trollope novel, with Shirley Henderson and Anne-Marie Duff.

The Way We Live Now (2001)

Fab early 1870s costumes, which you don’t see much on screen!

The Way We Live Now (2001)

Love the fabric choices.

 

Eroica (2003)

Set in 1804 Vienna, about Beethoven and Napoleon.

2003 Eroica

 

Warrior Queen (2003)

Alex Kingston as legendary British Celtic queen Boudica.

2003 Warrior Queen 2003 Warrior Queen

 

He Knew He Was Right (2004)

Another Anthony Trollope novel, this one from 1869; with Christina Cole and David Tennant.

2004 He Knew He Was Right

Galer often adds V-necks to mid-19th century. I think it helps them look less dumpy, although it’s not really typical of the period.

Lovely fan-front bodices.

 

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004)

Rupert Everett as the famous late Victorian detective.

2004 Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking

 

Bleak House (2005)

Charles Dickens novel adaptation set in the 1850s; Gillian Anderson and Anna Maxwell Martin star.

“As the designer my research into the period combined with choice of fabrics, trimmings and the skills of the team who have made the costumes are the result you see… My job as a costume designer is to produce costumes which will move the audience, make the actor comfortable and it must also work visually for camera. This requires the skills of various people who work with a passion which is actually unique in today’s world. Gone are the days when people had their own makers and dressers and it is the luxury of film, which demands such expertise today” (Brontë Blog).

Bleak House (2005)
2005 Bleak House

Lots of great detail, especially the shirring and the lace collar.

Carey Mulligan, Bleak House (2005)

 

Jane Eyre (2006)

A feature film adaptation, this one starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

“After I’ve done my research, I use what will move me the most and with Jane Eyre that was the J. H. Thompson portrait of Charlotte Brontë. I’m not the only person to have done it — there’s something particular about the reddish colouring of her grey dress… In recreating the grey dress that Charlotte wore in J. H. Thompson’s portrait, I felt I had to reflect her emotions and, in many ways, mine as well. I put the most time and money into this particular costume. It was made of a lightweight silk, which was then dyed with the red tone and then broken down to give it a worn look. It’s an expensive process, but my aim was to make the dress look like bombazine, which was a popular material at the time that combined silk with wool to make a heavier fabric. The lighter weight of Jane’s silk gave her costume more movement and ensured that it wouldn’t appear to be ‘just another grey dress’… In Jane Eyre, and all the other period productions I’ve done, I’ve mainly used original trim with fabrics from today. In my opinion, it is the basis for making something look period. It’s become harder to find and buy antique pieces, which is a shame because you need a stable of old things to pull together in order to make something that really works on camera” (Bringing Portraits Alive: Catherine Paula Han Interviews Andrea Galer, the Costume Designer for Jane Eyre).

2006 Jane Eyre

Bitchy, rich Blanche Ingram is super mid-1830s.

Jane Eyre, 2006

While Jane is more late 1830s/early 1840s.

Jane Eyre, 2006

I think this is the grey/red dress.

Jane Eyre, 2006

Nice use of sheer fabric, which was a big 1830s trend.

 

Persuasion (2007)

The ITV adaptation starring Sally Hawkins.

“She [protagonist Anne] doesn’t join in the Bath society. I wanted her to look in tune with nature. Because we were shooting in winter, I could go for faded autumnal colours for her. She gets Wentworth back just by her stillness and I wanted to reflect that in her wardrobe” (Powers of persuasion).

“I am about to start Persuasion with virtually no budget for makes which is a great pity” (Brontë Blog).

2007 Persuasion
2007 Persuasion

Alright, I do think this is cute.

2007 Persuasion

Lovely sleeves.

 

Marple (2008- )

More Agatha Christie British murder mysteries! This time, 1950s.

“A Pocket Full of Rye” (2008)

2008 Marple- A Pocket Full of Rye

“Murder Is Easy” (2008)

2008 Marple- murder Is Easy

 

Miss Austen Regrets (2008)

Olivia Williams as an aging Jane Austen.

Hugh Bonneville, Miss Austen Regrets (2008)

I hate this sleeveless pinafore look.

2008 Miss Austen Regrets

More of the same.

 

Poirot (2008)

Back to Poirot, if only briefly.

“Third Girl”

2008 poirot - Third Girl

 

Garrow’s Law (2009, episodes 2-3)

She did two episodes of this British TV series about a real-life late 18th century lawyer.

Livejournal user joyful_molly, reviewing the behind-the-scenes interviews on the DVD: “Mrs. Galer explains how she approached the challenge of fitting out so many people; one of the dresses Lady Sarah wears is actually a replica of an original dress Mrs. Galer bought at an auction, and she always promised herself that, if she should ever get the chance to work on a show set in the 18th century, she’d make a copy of that dress” (Anything AoS).

2009 Garrow's Law eps 2-3

This collar. Has been done to death. It’s cute! But NO MAS.

 

Marple (2009)

Back to Marple!

“They Do It with Mirrors”

2009 marple- They Do It with Mirrors

“Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?”

2009 marple- Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

 

The Lady Vanishes (2013)

A one-off, 1930s-set murder mystery, amazingly NOT adapted from an Agatha Christie novel!

2013 The Lady Vanishes

LOVE THAT STRIPED COLLAR

 

Dickensian (2016)

The ultimate Charles Dickens mashup — all of his stories, all intertwined and set in the 1850s.

Tuppence Middleton, Miss Havisham, Dickensian 2016

Why is Empress Sissi in 1850s London?

Dickensian (2015)
Dickensian (2015)

That’s… not a great fit.

Dickensian (2015) Dickensian (2015)
Dickensian (2015)

More of those V-necks.

Dickensian (2015)

 

Which of Andrea Galer’s historical designs do you like best?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

12 Responses

  1. Damnitz

    As I don’t know all of them: “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking”.

    It’s always terrible to see so many gents in frocks which don’t fit (look on the photo from “Eroica” (the gentleman in the middle).

    Reply
  2. 992234177

    Her clothes are not spectacular but they are appropriate. They are not the stars but they allow the story to be told without interfering.

    Reply
  3. Daniel Milford-Cottam

    I hate to be that guy, but…. I think the 1980s Joan Hickson Miss Marple has sneaked into your They Do It With Mirrors. Granted, most people think the Hickson Miss Marples are superior anyway…..

    Reply

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