If you’ve listened to our podcast about 17th-century A Little Chaos (2015) starring Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman, then you know that costume designer Joan Bergin reused costumes she made for The Tudors (2007). Trystan pointed us to the following information:
The three-time Emmy winner designed all of the sublime 16th-century costumes for the Henry VIII drama, “The Tudors,” and when the series wrapped after four seasons, Bergin bought roughly 50 of the costumes back from the studio. “I couldn’t bear to part with the pieces,” she said. “So much work had gone into them.”
And Bergin can creatively re-purpose her stock for other projects, especially ones with tight budget constraints. She modernized early-1500s dresses style-wise by about 200 years for “A Little Chaos,” set during the reign of Louis XIV. “It’s a great quick lesson in understanding every detail of your period for a costume,” she said. “The waists went up and down and the necklines changed, so we added big lace collars to the front of the dresses.” Where All the Costumes Go After TV Shows Wrap
So I decided to do some sleuthing, and you know what? Many of the What-the-Frock costume moments in A Little Chaos came right out of The Tudors. So for your hilarity, I present to you:
Madame Le Nôtre’s Sparkle Motion Dress
When Helen McCrory (as André Le Nôtre’s wife) first came on scene, Trystan and I had our mouths hanging open. Partially because we were laughing so hard. “WHAT is that?” we kept asking each other.
I wrote down in my notes, “Sparkle Motion.” Which, for those unaware, is a reference to the random-yet-hilarious pre-teen dance troupe referenced in the cult movie Donnie Darko (2001):
I guess what I should have written down was “Anne of Cleves by way of Little India,” because yeah. That ensemble was first worn by actress Joss Stone, playing Henry VIII’s fourth wife, in The Tudors. Where it is equally random. Looks like they swapped out the stomacher and called it good.
What SHOULD Madame Le Nôtre have been wearing? Well, it’s 1682 and she’s relatively well-to-do. How about a “robe” or “mantua,” with a high, slightly off-the-shoulder neckline, short sleeves, and possibly a long overskirt draped up and back over an underskirt:
Instead, she’s in a lovely red, beaded Indian lehenga skirt and I-have-no-idea top.
Madame Le Nôtre’s Dinosaur Dress
With bonus contrast back lacing! This is the dress that Trystan swore was embroidered with a dinosaur. Note open skirt in front and different fabric for the sleeves and skirt. “What the hell?” we said.
Silly us! We should have REALIZED that when they said Madame Le Nôtre, what they meant was Princess Mary Le Tudor! Yes, this is Sarah Bolger as Mary Tudor’s “peacock” dress (sadly, no dinosaur) from The Tudors. Without a hint of alteration or anything to try to make it 17th century.
The Princess Palatine’s Puffy Pants
I admit, I actually didn’t catch this while watching the movie (I was too horrified by everything else going on, costume-wise). It was designer Joan Bergin herself who outed this one when she was quoted,
Bergin was even more resourceful in dressing six-foot-one actress Paula Paul for a hunting scene. “She fitted perfectly into Johnny Rhys Meyer’s Henry VIII hunting outfit,” she said. Where All the Costumes Go After TV Shows Wrap
When I took a look at stills from the film, and looked at background characters — yes, there she is, in all her glory:
Now, I haven’t actually been able to find an image of Jonathan Rhys Meyers wearing this delightful ensemble in The Tudors — if you can find one, please let us know!! But we can still enjoy the images above, and compare them with women’s riding habits of the late 17th century:
Did women ever wear men’s clothing for hunting? Possibly. I’m not an expert on the 17th century, but I do know that both Marie Antoinette (queen of France) and Catherine the Great (empress of Russia) were painted in men’s riding habits in the 18th century:
But I somehow doubt that IF this was done in the late 17th century, the woman in question would be wearing Elizabethan
ham pants trunkhose (remind me to do a post about “ham pants” someday!).
The Princess Palatine’s Swapped-Out-Sleeves Dress
It looks like they took this dress worn by Catherine of Aragon and swapped out the sleeves:
I could snark more, but I’m saving it for the next round of Snark Week … Instead, I will leave you with costume designer Joan Bergin’s response to the question of “How accurate are the costumes in A Little Chaos” (okay, she was specifically asked: “The costumes in A Little Chaos are fabulously flamboyant. How accurate are they?”):
The period was astonishingly camp, though I think camp is the wrong word. It was more the fact that these people lived together in court in their hundreds and the men tried to outdo each other as much as the women.
Stanley Tucci was a joy to dress and to be around. He will always be daring and, from what I read about the time, it was true that they were that camp. Costume designer Joan Bergin talks about period drama A Little Chaos and dressing Meryl Streep
In other words, “No comment.” And, this tidbit:
Bloggers always try to tell you it’s not entirely accurate, but we consume every bit of knowledge we can about the period and run with it. Costume designer Joan Bergin talks about period drama A Little Chaos and dressing Meryl Streep
They certainly did “run with it”!
Reused costumes from The Tudors. Discuss!