SNARK WEEK: La Révolution (2020)

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My spidey sense (and the preview images) told me that I wasn’t going to dig La Révolution (2020), Netflix’s big-budget French Revolution/pandemic/horror mashup … and I was right. I’m VERY thankful this didn’t get chosen as the Snark Week recap this year, because I would have been VERY annoyed. It’s not BAD, per se, it’s just not inspired, and there isn’t enough to snark or praise. I suffered through two whole episodes before nope-ing out — I tried to check to see if there was going to be some Big Redeeming Costume Scene, and it doesn’t look like it, but apologies if I missed it.

Per Netflix, “In a reimagined history, a mysterious disease besets 18th-century France, culminating in a brutal clash between rebels and the aristocracy.” Weirdly, no costume designer is listed on IMDB.

Here’s what you’ve got:

Comtesse Elise de Montargis is Not Your Average Countess — how do we know? She can shoot better than the boys. Her father is AWOL at Versailles, her evil uncle is in charge while he’s gone, and her younger sister is having problems.

2020 La Revolution

WHERE did costume designers come up with this weird attached half-skirting on faux-18th century dresses? Did they look at a jacket and skirt combo and get confused?

2020 La Revolution

There is back-lacing galore, and yes, butt bows.

2020 La Revolution

We also know she’s spunky because she wears TROUSERS while riding, as well as over-the-knee boots with lots of buttons (in this shot, she’s just returned from riding).

2020 La Revolution

She spends far too much time in that powder-blue monstrosity, but the rest of her limited wardrobe is similarly uninspired.

2020 La Revolution

This dress I actually liked!

2020 La Revolution

Nice trim!

2020 La Revolution

Nice fabric!

2020 La Revolution

HER HAIR is in a full rockabilly pompadour/twisty not-a-French-braid ludicrousness. It’s implied that Bad Things in Her Past gave her the blonde streak, but then why is it blonde and not grey/white?

2020 La Revolution

Enjoy the clunk. No garments were actually fit on actors for this production.

Her younger sister is mute (and possibly deaf?), and having REALLY bad dreams. Like, weird voodoo-inspired, things are coming to get me dreams.

2020 La Revolution

Some of her wardrobe is decent (although still poorly fitted).

2020 La Revolution

I particularly liked this chemise gown.

2020 La Revolution

Chemise gown close-up?

2020 La Revolution

But what the hell is this Victorian nightmare?

2020 La Revolution

And this?

MEANWHILE, young peasant girls are going missing, and one (Rebecca — how is that a French name?) has turned up mauled and dead. Doctor Joseph Guillotin (note name) is trying to find out what’s really going on, particularly as he’s convinced the man who’s been convicted of the crime is innocent. He’s on the hunt of a new disease, which seems to be related.

2020 La Revolution

None of the photos of Joseph show his cuteness, so here’s a head shot.

2020 La Revolution

I think this is Joseph, dressed up for court. Nice stripe layout! Too bad the coat was made for someone two sizes larger?

Joseph is making friends with Katell (HOW IS THAT A FRENCH NAME), the spunky, pirate-wench-outfit chick who works at the jail that he frequents.

2020 La Revolution

I guess that’s a man’s shirt OVER stays?

MEANWHILE, Evil Uncle has major issues, including a son with a REALLY GROSS GANGRENOUS LEG I DID NOT NEED TO SEE ANY OF THAT.

2020 La Revolution

Evil Uncle is evil, which we can tell because he wears a leather coat.

Cousin/Son of Evil Uncle gets infected with this new disease, which gives you blue blood (get it? blue blood? upper class?). He also apparently starts prancing around in this outfit, which would be okay except it’s all made of the same fabric, including hat and shoes.

2020 La Revolution

Okay, that’s a great fabric for 18th century! BUT AGAIN NOBODY CAN FIT CLOTHING TO ACTUAL HUMAN BODIES HERE.

2020 La Revolution

And what’s with the gold lace cravat?

2020 La Revolution

And, listen, making an outfit with matching hat and shoes is SO COSTUMEY NO.

MEANWHILE, the lower classes are getting ready to rise up.

2020 La Revolution

Marianne, one of the lower-class leaders, appear to have escaped from the set of Vikings?

2020 La Revolution

And is a Phantom of the Opera fan, apparently.

A few final thoughts:

2020 La Revolution

This chick is the daughter of Evil Uncle/another cousin to Elise. Her dress shockingly isn’t back-laced, but her hair is in some kind of New Romantic take on 1780s bushy hairstyles.

2020 La Revolution

I feel like I’m looking at an Adam Ant video.

2020 La Revolution

I liked the poncy aristos in multi-colored wigs!

2020 La Revolution

Even if they wear lace bibs instead of cravats.

 

Did you love La Révolution? Feel free to tell me so in the comments!

 

 

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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.

23 Responses

  1. Michael McQuown

    Methinks the producers did a lot of drugs. I am running, not walking, to the nearest exit.

    Reply
  2. Addie

    ~Amadeus Amadeus, Come and rock me Amadeus~!
    No but seriously WTF is going on costume-wise?

    As for the name Rebecca, in Europe it really only caught on with Protestants post-Reformation as a rejection of Catholic-sounding saints names (Hebrew Bible and Greek/Roman names became pretty popular). Of course, this is France, so probably the only characters named any variation on Rebekah/Rebecca would be Jewish. Which Paris did have a population of (mostly German and Portuguese coming back generations after the mid-late Medieval expulsions)… I’m willing to bet that given the stunning amount of research they clearly put in with the name Katell (several baby name sites assure me that that’s a Breton diminutive for Katherine, I have no idea if that’s true, but if she were French she’d probably have a diminutive from Catherine such as Carine, Catant or Trinette) that maybe they don’t care.

    This reminds me of when I had to work the stage revival of Paint Your Wagon and they had a 1840’s woman named Kayla.

    Reply
    • Lap

      Hey Addie, I can confirm that Katell is an actual Breton name! No idea if it was in use in the 18th century though :)

      Reply
  3. Lily Lotus Rose

    OMG….I first learned of La Revolution on this blog a few months ago. It seemed craptastic then and even more craptastic now. I have to watch this. Re: Why no costumes fit–I’m guessing they rented everything and didn’t bother fitting anyone.

    Reply
  4. Lucrezia

    Looks like they just rented stock, and didnt bother to actually fit the stock pieces to the actors. The giveaway is when you see good pieces on minor characters and the real craptastic pieces are the ones on the main characters that the costumer “designed” especially, and you think wow, should have just fit another good stock piece there… Lol.

    Reply
  5. Laura

    Women frequently did wear trousers for riding and hunting, usually under petticoats and skirts. Marie Antoinette wore trousers for riding- and there’s a really lovely equestrianne painting of her as a young woman, astride a horse, wearing trousers.

    Reply
  6. Nzie

    I too predicted it would not be my thing, and I see I was right. I don’t get not fitting properly. Like, these are so poorly fitting that it should’ve been obvious to anyone. But also what the frock on so many design choices? The Vikings peasant had me laughing though.

    Reply
  7. Shashwat

    How do they manage to make the clothes so clunky?Or so clunky clothes?Is this a new fashion trend of deliberately ugly fashion popular only among the cinematic costuming circles?

    Reply
  8. Paul Richards

    Gold lace was certainly a thing in the nineteenth century. It would be worn on the most expensive of court or reception dresses.

    Reply
    • MoHub

      “Gold lace has a charm for the fair
      And I’ve plenty of that, and to spare.”

      W. S. Gilbert, Patience

      Reply
  9. ScreenFashions

    I wonder if those half skirts are an attempt to copy the draping of a polonaise gown. The Viking chick made me laugh, those greasy looking braids really stand out and not in a good way.

    Reply
  10. Stella

    Oh man, I feel like there are so many cool costuming opportunities they could’ve taken! Instead of making the revolutionaries steampunk-phantom of the opera-vikings they could’ve given them a whole bunch of red/white/blue outfits. for starters! I guess that that’s less cool and grungy but this type of ‘cool and grungy’ doesn’t work for the 18th century. I’d love to see more costume designers who want to do something different take inspiration from actual fashions back in the day and build on that instead of apparently starting out with what they think is cool and doing the bare minimum to put it in a historical context…

    Reply
  11. Roxana

    Clearly this mysterious disease destroys all fashion sense as well as turning the blood blue.

    Reply
  12. Betsy

    Imagine if they used all that money to make a compelling, somewhat accurate drama about the Revolution without zombies! I would go for that. However I did find some parts clever, like the tricolor flag at the end, and Donatien was so over the top campy I secretly loved it.

    Reply
      • Kat

        Well Gaia Weiss briefly played the love interest of adult!Bjorn on Vikings, where her character was a trainee-shield maiden so apparently the director/costumer designer saw a shot of her on that show and thought “perfect, we’ll change nothing!”

        Reply
  13. Nico81

    It’s been panned by critics here in France and they have just announced that they cancelled season 2. I tried to fast forward the last episode (which is supposed to be partially set at Versailles) in order to find some nice costume only to discover good old Louis XVI as Evil King of the Zombies with clawed hands….

    Reply
  14. Vanta

    your forgot the mid 19th century outfit of Joseph Guillotin (and his beard^^)
    In fact there were some pretty costumes in that show, but the ugly ones are so ugly than you can’t remember the good ones
    I know someone who work in costume department for this show : she said that it was 50% rent costumes and 50% original creations…. (and even have an argument with one of the major actor about the costumes^^)

    Reply
  15. Carrie

    I started watching and HATED this show. There is nothing historical about it- nothing. I watch and read historical fiction to learn. Even the crappiest shows usually allow me, even briefly, to see the world they portray in a new way. Even worse: this show is incredibly boring. I couldn’t get through more than about two episodes. I have issues with it, but “Britannia” is historical fantasy done (mostly) right. La Revolution is utter tripe and a real disappointment because before watching I thought the concept sounded interested.

    I love Snark Week. I don’t have much money but I’m happy to donate to you three because Frockflicks is my happy place.

    Reply

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