Y’all probably know I’m the resident Mary Queen of Scots fan here, and I’ve been following the possible new movie about her life starring Saoirse Ronan for awhile. Well, it’s finally started filming, and last week a promo photo of Ronan in costume was issued. It wasn’t all that interesting to me, but I figured I’d reserve further judgement until I saw more.
This dress on Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart really looks phoned-in. Was someone in a rush? Could they not get a rental from Angels or CosProp in time? C’mon, this is weak as shit.
The film is a U.K. production, they have oodles of far more historically accurate 16th-century gowns at their disposal to slip into for a quickie shoot. Throw me a frickin’ bone, fer chrissakes. But like I said, I wasn’t going to get too worked up about this one lamesauce photo until…
Yesterday, one of ours readers, Simone, sent us a photo on Facebook asking “Please tell me the new outfit for portrayal of Elizabeth I isn’t in bloody denim? Help me out here, am I blind?” OMFG!
Yeah, Simone, it looks like denim to me too. There is nothing here that is a historically accurate look for a late 16th-century story. It makes me want to throw things. The cutaway partlet / “zone” front / spencer jacket thing over the pierced corset. Those buckles on one side of the skirt. The denim-on-denim color scheme. What the hell is this even supposed to be? IT ALL MAKES MY BRAIN HURT.
The costume designer is Alexandra Byrne, best-known for Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), which were both pretty but very much stylized in a haute-couture-meets-Bollywood aesthetic to suit director Shekhar Kapur’s vision. So what the frock is director Josie Rourke’s vision here??? Reign already did MQoS goes haute couture — did Rourke think that Mary Queen of Scots goes steampunk is the natural evolution???
What the ever-loving fuck is going on with directors / designers / people these days that they can’t just look at a fucking fashion history book and work from that when costuming a historical movie?!?! We’ve talked on this blog endlessly about how yes, it’s cool if films have a consistent and original thematic idea for how to interpret historical fashion that’s telling a story, but just slapping a bunch of different pieces from random eras together is grade-A bullshit.
I don’t want to hear ‘it’s more relatable to modern audiences’ if historical characters are wearing a goddamned mishmash of ye-olde-time-y styles and modern clothes. It’s relatable if you have a good script and good acting, FFS. Do the heavy lifting with your direction and writing, not fucked-up costumes.
Yeah, OK, fine, not everyone will notice if the costumes are historically accurate — note the comments on fashion site Go Fug Yourself, where insights were as in-depth as “The blue of that gown looks absolutely gorgeous” and “If the costumes are like that gorgeous blue dress then I am in.” Also, this little exchange:
Comment A: “Why does she have those ear piercings? Oversight, or…?”
Reply B: “If you do a Google search for portraits of MQoS, you’ll see she has earrings on in many of them.”
Yes, she had ONE set of ear piercings. That was fairly common for the period. NO do not keep posting this closeup:
It’s a close crop of this portrait of Maria of Portugal, Duchess of Parma, circa 1550, painted by the workshop of Antonis Mor. Using one or two images from kinda-sorta the period but in a different geographical area doesn’t prove jack shit (note to Frock Flicks staff: we need to write an article about how exceptions don’t prove the rule in fashion history and on-screen, gawd that pisses me off). Parma is in Italy, not Scotland, France, or England, any of the historical places Mary Stuart would reasonably be expected to take her fashion cues from. ALSO, we have a very well-documented list of legit contemporary portraits of her showing, as I said, ONE set of ear piercings — here, I’ve collected the images all on Pinterest because, yeah, it’s my jam.
Oh wait, I said I wasn’t going to get all worked up over the Saoirse Ronan photo. Sorry, I lied. Sue me.
Anyway, I just want to leave it with this thought: Mary Queen of Scots (2018) will probably reel in a few n00bs who just know names like Saoirse Ronan from Brooklyn (2015) and Margot Robbie from Suicide Squad (2016), but the producers are being numbskulls and killing off the one guaranteed audience they COULD have, us, the fans of costume dramas and actual history. We may be little weird and nit-picky, but we SHOULD be a highly sought-after demographic.
Look at how much money we spend on fabric, books, and subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon, Acorn, and BritBox! Look at how many of us pledge to public TV in the U.S.! Producers of historical films could make BANK off us if they did shit right. But instead, we’ll mostly avoid this thing on the big-screen because it won’t be worth shelling out the money, and we’ll wait for it online, and screencap it for Snark Week. THEIR LOSS.
Do you have any opinions on these photos from the upcoming Mary Queen of Scots film?