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).
She designed three different episodes of the David Suchet-starring TV series about the famed 1930s murder detective.
“Hercule Poirot’s Christmas” (1994)
“Hickory Dickory Dock” (1995)
“Dumb Witness” (1996)
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 ” (Bringing Portraits Alive: Catherine Paula Han Interviews Andrea Galer, the Costume Designer for Jane Eyre).
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).
The Way We Live Now (2001)
British TV miniseries adaptation of the 1875 Anthony Trollope novel, with Shirley Henderson and Anne-Marie Duff.
Set in 1804 Vienna, about Beethoven and Napoleon.
Warrior Queen (2003)
Alex Kingston as legendary British Celtic queen Boudica.
He Knew He Was Right (2004)
Another Anthony Trollope novel, this one from 1869; with Christina Cole and David Tennant.
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004)
Rupert Everett as the famous late Victorian detective.
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).
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).
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).
Marple (2008- )
More Agatha Christie British murder mysteries! This time, 1950s.
“A Pocket Full of Rye” (2008)
“Murder Is Easy” (2008)
Miss Austen Regrets (2008)
Olivia Williams as an aging Jane Austen.
Back to Poirot, if only briefly.
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).
Back to Marple!
“They Do It with Mirrors”
“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!
The ultimate Charles Dickens mashup — all of his stories, all intertwined and set in the 1850s.
Which of Andrea Galer’s historical designs do you like best?
When did Olivia Colman change her last name to Williams?
They are two different actors. Olivia Williams: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Williams
Olivia Colman: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Colman
Favourite is The Way We Live Now.
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).
Her clothes are not spectacular but they are appropriate. They are not the stars but they allow the story to be told without interfering.
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…..
I hate to be that person, part deux, but the Toby Stephens/Ruth Wilson Jane Eyre was a miniseries not a feature film.
I always enjoy the perfection of Poirot.
I LOVE Firelight. What a sexy movie!
I think Galer likes a translucent sleeve
I can’t understand why ‘He Knew He Was Right’ isn’t available on DVD.