Writing for this blog means that now when I see a costume movie or TV series and like the costumes, I actually bother to look up the costume designer. I thought the recent Vanity Fair was quite well done, so I wanted to take a tour through designer Lucinda Wright‘s resume. Unfortunately she hasn’t done many “top tier” productions so it was hard to find much in the way of her thoughts on her work, so I’m including some comments about the costumes from others involved as well. She seems to be a great example of the concept of “costume designers don’t always call the shots” and “sometimes the goal isn’t historical accuracy” — because she can do Vanity Fair, but she also did the first season of Jamestown. Enjoy and ponder with me!
A World War I movie.
Henry VIII (2003)
The Ray Winstone/Helena Bonham Carter bio-miniseries.
Producer Francis Hopkinson: “There is certainly no ludicrous dancing in pantaloons! … at the end of most period dramas, you want to hug the costume and set designer. But we didn’t want to show off the production values; rather, we’ve concentrated on telling a cracking story. We didn’t want to prettify the era, which was raw and tough. This is certainly not chocolate-box drama.” (A gangster king thing)
Doctor Who: “The Unquiet Dead” (2006)
Wright was the designer for the first season of the reboot.
Fanny Hill (2007)
The entertainingly smutty adaptation of the 18th-century prostitute novel.
Miss Marie Lloyd (2007)
Biopic about a famous Edwardian music-hall actress.
A TV movie about children’s author Enid Blyton, primarily set in the 1940s, starring Helena Bonham Carter.
Actress Helena Bonham Carter: ““I loved the costumes! In fact most of them are my clothes! I was even paid a rental fee that was practically more than I earned as an actor!” (Helena Bonham Carter on playing Enid Blyton)
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: “The Murder at Road Hill House” (2011)
A series of British TV movies about a Scotland Yard detective. This one is set in 1860.
“The costumes needed to portray the harsh, raw story of a child murder in a very bleak and unforgiving Victorian England; also to show the clashing ideals and traditions of the upper middle classes versus the working classes with the contrasting worlds of the city and the countryside. It was necessary to create a distinctive colour palette, with bold harsh silhouettes for each character to convey the mood of the piece. The major colours were purples, greens, metallic greys and, of course, black. This was not a romantic story, so gone were the yellows, reds, blues, or any pretty patterns of that period. Fabrics were slightly shabby, stained cottons, scuffed leathers; out were the quaint Lacy collars, stripped down to the basics.” (Clothes on Film)
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: “The Murder in Angel Lane” (2013)
This one included Olivia Colman!
“As Susan Spencer, Olivia Colman’s first outfit had to reveal wealth, being completely out of place in that world (London) and hopefully this was achieved by the use of colour in cotton brocade and silks and lovely fur. It was an added bonus that when we went to film it snowed heavily so completed the look. We needed to put white against the dark to give a strong visual image at the opening of the drama. We had one mourning dress for Olivia due to the very small budget. I used various accessories: shawl, different earrings, belt, hats and brooches – one with her ‘niece’, Mary Drew’s hair in it. Olivia’s last dress needed to be out of mourning, to have an uplifting end so I based it on the locket that she had given to Mary of green, blue and gold. Also she wears the actual locket in that scene as well.” (Clothes on Film)
New Worlds (2014)
Various interconnected stories set in 17th-century England and the American colonies.
Home Fires (2015)
Women living on the home front during World War II.
Scriptwriter Julie Summers: “Just to be clear, I am not involved in the production of the drama – my involvement stops with the scripts – but I did have the great good fortune to talk to the series costume designer, Lucinda Wright, in the lead up to filming series 1 and she took me round the fabulous collections of clothes at Angels Costumes. Their website claims they have over one million items and eight miles of hanging costume. Well, I didn’t see them all but Lucinda and I did discuss colour and fabrics in some detail.” (Julie Summers Blog)
Maigret Sets a Trap (2016)
The fictional 1950s French detective is played by a serious Rowan Atkinson.
Maigret’s Dead Man (2016)
More of the same!
Here’s where we go to crazytown: supposedly set in early 17th-century colonial Jamestown, but full of WTFery.
Actress Naomi Battrick: “Our costume designer Lucy Wright is an absolute genius. She creates stories for everyone. There are palettes for everyone that describe not only the characters and why they are in Jamestown, but their history.” (8 Reasons to Visit Jamestown)
Maigret in Montmartre (2017)
Maigret: “Night at the Crossroads” (2017)
Vanity Fair (2018)
The classic Regency novel by Thackeray.
“In the early 19th century, there was a huge amount of etiquette around what you were allowed to wear. It would tell people what class you were, what your personality was like; it really spoke volumes. You would be shunned in society if you tried to overstep the mark.” (How Becky Sharp’s wardrobe in Vanity Fair reflects her social rise and fall)
Six Minutes to Midnight (TBA)
Currently in production: “Summer 1939. Influential families in Nazi Germany have sent their daughters to a finishing school in an English sea side town to learn the language and be ambassadors for a future looking National Socialist. A teacher there sees what is coming and is trying to raise the alarm. But no one is listening” per IMDB. With Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent.
What’s your favorite of Lucinda Wright’s historical costume work?