Finishing Out The Cook of Castamar

8

Alright people, I got nothing better to do so I finished The Cook of Castamar (2021) and I have thoughts about the costumes, hair, and ending! Semi-spoiler alert! If you don’t want to know some things about how the series ends, watch it before reading.

Again, this miniseries is based on a (modern) novel and set in 1720 Spain. Clara (Michelle Jenner) is a down-on-her-luck cook who gets hired to work for the fabulously wealthy Duke of Castamar. And I won’t tell you anything other than that!

Let’s work our way to up Amelia, who of course is the most fun.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Roberto has nice side rolls, but I kept staring at that sideswept almost-combover.

Francis Hayman, 1707/8–1776, British, George and Margaret Rogers, between 1748 and 1750, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

18th century hairstyles all went BACK, not to the side | Francis Hayman, 1707/8–1776, British, George and Margaret Rogers, between 1748 and 1750, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Flashback mom! I actually kind of like this ensemble for late 17th century. It looks like a loose gown over stays, which, yes! The sleeves are kind of random, but they’re not bad.

Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland and Countess Castlemaine (1640–1709)

It’s kind of like a casual version of this silhouette? Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland and Countess Castlemaine (1640–1709), c. 1670, via Sotheby’s

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Sol Montijos gets a good dark-themed riding ensemble for a flashback scene, although I feel like that print is suspiciously close to paisley.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

There are a LOT OF HAIRNETS being used in these hairstyles, which look almost 1870s. Now, I actually love a good hairnet! But you need to pin it IN to the hair in places so it’s not so obvious!

Augustin Pajou/Sèvres Manufactory, Madame du Barry (1746–1793), 1772, Metropolitan Museum of Art

What they were going for | Augustin Pajou/Sèvres Manufactory, Madame du Barry (1746–1793), 1772, Metropolitan Museum of Art

1876 - Revue de la Coiffure

What they achieved | Revue de la Coiffure, 1876

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Flashback Sol, looking very 1660s-1670s, which would be 50ish years before the present? So maybe not?

Silver Tissue Dress, 1660, Fashion Museum (Bath)

Kind of like this? Silver Tissue Dress, 1660, Fashion Museum (Bath)

2021 The Cook of Castamar

At the very end, Clara gets a robe à la française (1740s and onwards style) for a Very Special Occasion. I liked how they picked something almost white but not quite, and kept it pretty but understated, like Clara’s character.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

However, up close I’m not loving the beige. The Indian printed cotton IS accurate for the period.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

A hairdresser comes from France and styles Amelia’s hair in a new style! Which is basically her same old ratted/aqua-netted Gibson Girl updo, except with less side volume.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

She also has massive hairnet action. And 1870s-style hair.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

The BIG MOMENT is when she wears this caramel-colored court dress. It is cut relatively correctly for a court dress, with fitted bodice and back-lacing.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

She’s got HUGE puffy bows on the front. A “ladder” of graduated-width bows is definitely a style you see in the mid-18th century.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

I couldn’t figure out why I kept staring at them.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Until she stood sideways and I realized they were placed too high on her chest.

Portrait of Madame de Pompadour by François Boucher, 1756, Alte Pinakothek

The classic mid-century “ladder” of bows | Portrait of Madame de Pompadour by François Boucher, 1756, Alte Pinakothek

2021 The Cook of Castamar

THE BACK. WAS THE BEST. I don’t think ANYONE showed that much shoulder blade until about 1920.

Sofia Magdalena court dress bodice back closeup

Your standard court dress came up high in the back | Sofia Magdalena’s coronation gown, 1772, Livrustkammaren

2021 The Cook of Castamar

After that, everything else was a let down, like this closed-front mantua (a 1730s-50s style).

Tibout Regters, Portrait einer adeligen Dame, 1743, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s kind of like this | Tibout Regters, Portrait einer adeligen Dame, 1743, via Wikimedia Commons

2021 The Cook of Castamar

This jacket was cute! If 1780s.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

I scoffed at how she’s dressed to the nines, not feeling well, and then 30 seconds later her hair is down in beachy waves.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Or spiral curls, to be more precise.

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Another shot of the Brooch of AliExpress Castamar!

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Amelia’s white wedding dress is delivered … without even a bag? Sheet wrapped around it? Something? IT’S WHITE, PEOPLE. IT NEEDS PROTECTION. (Also, this is about 150 years before the White Wedding Dress)

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Someone had some problems getting the overskirts to angle correctly.

1775-80 sack - Victoria & Albert Museum

This is the line they should be going for | Sack (robe à la française), 1775-80, Victoria & Albert Museum

2021 The Cook of Castamar

THE MOST HEAD-NECKLACE-Y HEAD NECKLACE EVER! It’s one of those Edwardian dog collar chokers!

2021 The Cook of Castamar

Someone went CRAZY with the head bling.

 

 

Did you finish The Cook of Castamar? Did you scoff at what I scoffed at?

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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.

8 Responses

  1. Aleko

    “…this caramel-colored court dress. It is cut relatively correctly for a court dress, with fitted bodice and back-lacing.”

    Eh???
    I have never seen back-lacing on an 18thc dress with a stomacher (which is what an échelle of bows invariably sat on). The stomacher was always real, not a decorative appliqué. Back-lacing gowns had a plain front.

    Reply
    • Damnitz

      Very nice point.

      However I have the impression that such aspects doesn’t matter in such a mix of costumes from different decades of the 18th century and as it was explained perfectly even aspects from the 19th century.

      It’s almost always the same that the producers think that the style of the first half of the 18th century is too boring or just not what the audience would expect from 18th century costumes and therefore they make a mish-mash of all decades with a favour for the 1770s/80s because the hairstyle was very elaborated. We see the same (with better costumes) in “Thieves of the wood”, “Tom Jones…” (1997) etc..

      I ask myself if that is of any real significance for the audience or if the audience would not like the series with correct hairstyle and costumes too. Is not storytelling, weapons, actors etc. of more signifcance for me?

      Reply
  2. hsc

    “I feel like that print is suspiciously close to paisley…”

    To me, it looked more like something with a Moorish influence. But no idea if that’s any more plausible or appropriate.

    Great coverage and pics, BTW. I love it when you watch these things so I don’t have to!

    Reply
    • Lime

      It’s not Spanish court fashion either (which, by 1720’s would be very similar to French court because the king was French and had won a war to sit on the Spanish throne, so everybody was trying to suck up to him).

      The thing is… the flashbacks are not accurate either, because those are French fashion, and Spanish fashion in late 17th Century was very different from the French.

      Reply
  3. hsc

    BTW, that last framegrab:

    I could see the one dumb head necklace getting used, because even though it’s a lulu (an obvious “dog collar” choker?) it’s still par for the whole series– “Hey, just stick something sparkly in her hair, and we’re good!”

    But WTF happened in that last shot? Was she on the losing end of a snowball fight with the contents of the jewelry chest?

    Reply
  4. Nzie

    I don’t have a lot to say on the costumes as I don’t know the period anywhere near as well as you. But if that “special occasion” for Clara is what I think it is, it shouldn’t be outside; that’s not even allowed in Catholicism today without some sort of special permission. It’s so odd to me that they were so good about having her wear a cap a lot (which so many miss) and but miss things that they seem like they could have known.

    Reply
  5. Tracy

    “Another shot of the Brooch of AliExpress Castamar!” – oh, thank you so much! 🤣

    Reply

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