Doctor Who Review

The New Series of Doctor Who – First Thoughts and Opinions

So… my Doctor Who blog count down kind of failed, I suppose I was being a little ambitious trying to juggle a 40-hour week at my job, sewing projects and a daily Doctor Who blog post. However, it is a learning curve and I intend to learn and improve from this. (After all I’m still a bit of a newbie). However, I have decided to try and round off that few days of Doctor Who costume blogs and do a brief review of what I think of the new Doctor Who so far.

We’ve had 4 episodes so far and I must say I am so impressed and in love with how the new series is going. I love how educational the show is getting while still engaging me in this amazing world of adventures. The writing is wonderful, and the most recent episode, “Arachnids in the UK” was probably the first Doctor Who episode in years that had me hiding behind a cushion!

I’m already invested in the companions, I’m enjoying seeing them grow, which is unusual for me, normally I have a bit of a dislike towards the Doctors companions which is most likely because I’m jealous it’s not me! I also absolutely love Jodie’s manic, intelligent Doctor, who just wants to have friends and help people who need help.

What I absolutely love is her costume and the thought that’s gone behind it. For starters, the Doctor buys her clothes from a charity shop! I’m not sure why I found this so great at first, but I think it just gives us an insight into what Jodie’s Doctor is going to be like. She takes old unwanted things (e.g. the spoons she made her sonic screwdriver from) and brings new life and worth to them.

I also love the outfit. The long coat just gives the Doctor the right amount of flourish and flare when she’s on an adventure, which also pays homage to the suffragettes with its violet lining and blue colour. I read an interview (find it here) with Jodie Whitaker and the Costume Designer Ray Holman and they explained how the costume was based on a picture of a woman, and that they just loved it because it looked so timeless.
Other subtle features such as the rainbow piping in the coat and on her t shirt suggests the inclusive nature of the Doctor and perhaps pays respect to Tom Bakers amazingly striped scarf (or perhaps that’s going a bit too far?)

Another amazing touch includes her accessories, her earring and ear cuff were specially designed with meaning to show that the Doctor came from the stars and the universe and comes to help people hand in hand. She also has a bum bag! I shrieked with joy when I saw that in the most recent episode, just another wonderful and practical touch that make me love this Doctor even more!

I’m going to finish this post here, because I feel like I could ramble about my love for Doctor Who and costume for a lot longer. I am very excited to see where the new series takes us and what amazing worlds and costumes we will get to see!

My Favourite Alien

Doctor Who Count Down – 4 Days to go!

Many people who know me know I love cats. Cats are certainly one of the things that bring me a lot of joy and it is an ambition of mine to have many cats in the future. So imagine my delight when we are introduced to “catkind” in the “New Earth” episode and then again in “Gridlock”

This is not the first time that the Sci-fi genre has explored the idea of cats evolving to be more human like, Cat from Red Dwarf springs to mind. However, with Doctor Who I feel like they worked really hard to make this alien race look realistic and not overly satire or comical. The makeup and prosthetics used to turn the actors that play these cat people are impressive, making it very obvious that these aliens are feline!

However apart from their faces these aliens have no other particular cat like features. Ears are hidden under hats so there is no way of knowing if these aliens have pointed ears like house cats and both the cat nuns and Thomas Kincade Brannigan the Catkind driver that the Doctor meets in “Gridlock” both wear gloves, which again hides claws and fur on the hands. This is a clever way that the costume department has helped to save time and probably the cost of makeup and prosthetics that the actors would have to wear. It takes hours for the actors faces be transformed to look more feline, imagine how much time and how cumbersome a set of ears and claws would be.

Thomas Kincade Brannigan , The Catkind we meet in “Gridlock”. (Image found here)

Brannigan is dressed similar to an aviator wearing his aviator hat reminiscent to those worn in the early 1900s and by Amelia Earhart. A rather fitting outfit for a character who is stuck travelling for decades until the Doctor appears.

Sister of Plenitude with her pointed winged wimple. (Image found here)

The Cat Nuns belong to “The Sisters of Plenitude” in “New Earth” have a rather simple costume, but I still find it quite interesting. Like most religious orders these nuns wear simple unornamented clothing in white which is probably used to make these characters seem pure and innocent – which is this episode they are not as they end up being the bad guys! The only bit of flourish that the cat nuns have in their costume would be their large winged headdress similar to the wimples worn by an order of Catholic nuns called the Daughters of Charity. What I find really clever about these wimples is that the pointed wings look very similar in shape to sphinx cat ears. A choice the Doctor Who costume department obviously made to make these characters look more cat like.

Catkind may only be my favourite Doctor Who alien because they’re cats and also I love Brannigan’s character. Yes, this species doesn’t have very extravagant costumes, but they do provide a good example of how a costume department can help to build a character whilst still being time efficient and cost effective. I do hope that we will be able to learn more about Catkind in the future of Doctor Who!

Jenny Flint – Combat Ready

Doctor who Count Down – 5 days to go

Today, I want to talk about one of my favourite characters within Doctor Who, Jenny Flint. Jenny Flint is a recurring character in the more recent series of Doctor Who and is best known for being part of the Victorian crime-fighting trio that is Madame Vastra, Strax and Jenny.

Madame Vastra, Strax and Jenny Flint (Image found here)

To the rest of the world Jenny is but a simple maid, however, her friends and the audience know her as Madame Vastra’s wife and a talented swords-woman and fighter. Jenny is an intelligent strong-willed character with a lot of grit, who challenges the restrictive gender roles and stereotypes that were massively enforced in the later part of the Victorian era (and to some extent still apply today). Jenny faces challenges head-on whether it be picking locks or in combat and she is equipped with courage and practical (and awesome) clothing.

See in the time Jenny and Madame Vastra live (we have encountered them in the 1880s and 1890s) the normal and accepted clothing for women wasn’t really suited for running around helping the Doctor in his adventures. Women were expected to wear tight-fitting corsets to hold in the waist and accentuate the bust and hips, a bustle which made the wearer’s hips and backside appear wider. This provided a perfect base for the draping fabric of the heavy layers of skirts and petticoats that were worn on top of the undergarments. Of course, close-fitting tailored bodices often embellished with decorative buttons and piping were also worn.

Now in her day to day life, Jenny seems to comply with the fashionable dress of her time era, however, when she is called to action she comes prepared with appropriate clothing.

Jenny’s Costume in “The Battle of Demon’s Run” (image found here)

When we first meet her in “The Battle of Demon’s Run” she wears a white flowing blouse and blue tailored waistcoat beautifully embellished with embroidery in the centre front and fastened with gold buttons. The top of this ensemble is reminiscent to a Victorian riding habit which women would have worn to ride horses and were specifically made to withstand more physical activity. However rather than a skirt, she wears brown close-fitting trousers, perfect for combat.

When we next see Jenny in combat gear it is in “The Crimson Horror” whilst she is undercover searching for the Doctor in Sweetville. When they are ambushed by “supermodels” she swiftly strips her long skirt, coat, and bonnet to reveal a rather impressive and cool looking ensemble. She wears black boots, black patterned skintight trousers with a matching high neck top, and a black leather corset-like bodice on top, as seen in the Doctor Who clip above. The costume keeps her completely covered but in this time period would be considered very inappropriate!

An example of a 17th Century stay displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The shoulder straps and tapers bodice are similar to the corset-like leather bodice Jenny wears. (image found here)

The corseted bodice is what I find really interesting in this costume. Although it still has some piping and structure to help maintain the fashionable silhouette it seems a lot more practical, supportive and maybe even protective. The use of the black leather seems to have been used because of its connotations of rebellion and danger, it definitely succeeds in giving Jenny an “edge”. Interestingly the shape of the piping and the straps keeping the bodice in place are quite similar to the stays worn in the 17th century. The corseted bodice seems to be accompanied by what looks like a short-ruched skirt or even a rolled up bustle which helps ground the character in the Victorian period despite her being so ahead of her time!

Jenny Flint is certainly an interesting character, with wonderful well thought costume design! I know the trio are considered to be very endearing and important to a lot of Doctor Who fans. I for one think the three, especially Jenny are marvellous and I would love to encounter her more in the future and learn more about her life.

The Fez or the Fedora?

Doctor Who Count Down – 6 Days to go!

Yesterday I talked about how the 11th Doctor played by Matt Smith probably had my favourite fashion sense and one of these reasons was his love of hats, most notably the fez. However, the 4th Doctor played by Tom Baker is also well known for his floppy brown fedora, which in my opinion is as equally as fun. But when it comes down to it, which is better, the Fez or the Fedora?

The 4th Doctor wearing a Deerstalker in “The Talons of Weng Chiang”. (picture sourced here)

The 4th Doctor’s (Tom Baker) fedora is quite a common fixture in his costume only swapping it for a deerstalker in “The Talons of Weng Chiang” whilst pretending to be Sherlock Holmes or a Tam o’Shanter when visiting Scotland in “The Terror of the Zygons”.

On the other hand the 11th Doctor doesn’t wear hats all the time, but is rather partial to them. He wears quite a selection either as part of a disguise or just because he thought they were cool. Some notable hats include a Stetson, deerstalker, top hat, bowler hat, a Santa hat and of course his fez. His Fez only makes several cameos, originally picked up in a museum during “The Big Bang 2” but from then on it becomes a recurring accessory and joke.

Both hats are traditionally made from felt, with a tall crown, but this is where the similarities end. The fedora’s crown has an indent down the middle which makes it easier to fold and pocketed without losing its shape. It is also with a wide brim perfect for protecting your head from the weather, such as rain and sun. Which earns bonus points for me.

The 4th Doctor wearing his fedora with his companion, Sarah Jane in “The Terror of the Zygons” (picture sourced here)

I think what I love most about the fedora is that after it was made popular by the play Fedora in 1882 it was picked up and worn by women campaigning for women’s rights. It is also a hat known to be worn by gangsters in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Of course, it is also well known and well-loved due to the great adventurer and archaeologist Indiana Jones a character which made the hat popular again in the 1980s.

The fedora is a hat known to be worn by activists (for women’s rights), adventurers (Indiana Jones) and rebels (gangsters), all things that the Doctor is known and famous for!

The Doctor Who inspired fez I made for my millinery project at university.

The fez (also known as the “tarboosh” in Morocco) has quite an interesting history! No one really knows where the fez was first, many say that it originates from Ancient Greece, whilst others say that it came from the Balkans. However, there is a large culture of wearing fez’s in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Similar to the fedora, the fez was primarily worn by women at first, many using it as an alternative to a headscarf. Men would also wear the fez, using it as a base for their turbans.

The fez has different connotations and symbolises a lot of different things depending on the country or community you are amongst. For example, the fez is worn as a symbol of national pride in Morocco because it was worn in protest during the French occupation between 1912 to 1956. In Morocco, the fez is also associated with royalty and importance as the King of Morocco, the cabinet ministers and the palace staff all wear a fez.

For many Muslim countries such as Egypt and Turkey the fez is considered inappropriate as it is a symbol of oppression. Many men choosing to go bare headed rather than wear a Fez.  Also, unlike the fedora, the fez does not come with the added bonuses of protection from rain or sun (as it is brimless) and is not quite as easily stored away. Although it is very eye catching.

For me it’s an easy decision as to which hat I think is best… It has to be the Fedora! It is so much more practical and I just love the history and connotations that come with this hat. It just matches the Doctor’s personality so well!

But what do you think? Given the choice what would you decide?

The best dressed Doctor?

Doctor Who Count Down – 7 Days to go!

As many of you will know the new series of the BBC’s Doctor Who will be returning to us on the 7th October. The new series will bring new writers, new companions, and probably most importantly a new Doctor! The first female Doctor in fact, played by Jodie Whittaker.

As quite a big Doctor Who fan (I would even go as far as to say that I am Whovian owning a fair bit of Doctor Who merchandise and memorabilia) I am extremely excited series. So, to help me (and maybe you?) make it through this final week of waiting I thought I would indulge the nerdy part of me and do a little count down till next Sunday when the new series starts.

For today I thought I would ease into my count down and talk about which Doctor I think is the best dressed.

If you’ve seen Doctor Who you will know the Doctor is an odd, quirky character, after all he is a time travelling alien. A lot of the Doctors costumes have really matched how strange the Doctor is. I mean the Fifth Doctor (played by Peter Davison) wore his cream ensemble with a stick of celery in his lapel, the Sixth Doctor (played by Colin Baker) had his multi-coloured jacket and off course the Fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker) had his wonderfully ridiculous long scarf.

The 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Doctor. (from left to right)

In more recent regenerations I personally think that the Doctors quirk is subtler in regards to his costume. When the series was rebooted in 2005, the 9th Doctor (played by Christopher Eccleston) had a rather mundane ensemble with his black top and leather jacket. The Doctors to follow him all wore some form of suit, and are outfits not particularly out of the ordinary.

For all I love David Tennant’s blue suit and long brown coat and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor wears a fair few jumpers and jackets that I myself would love to own, I personally think that Matt Smith‘s 11th Doctor is the best dressed of all the existing Doctors.

Yes, I may be slightly biased having only properly watched Doctor Who since its reboot, and many of you may not agree with me but I personally think the 11th Doctor has my favourite outfit because he ALWAYS looks like he’s put so much effort into his appearance.

His tweed jacket, bow tie and braces are reminiscent to something a stereotypical grandad or librarian would wear (however at this point the Doctor is very old). However, I think his careful attention to detail in his appearance is quite endearing considering he is running around saving the world half the time! It makes me smile to think that even though the character spends so much time caring and helping others he still takes the time for himself to dress in a way that makes him happy. He wears fun hats and accessories with his slightly odd clothing despite what others around him may saybecause “they are cool!”.

Amy Pond with the 11th Doctor, complete with tweed jacket, brace’s and his “cool” bow tie. (original image here)

I also think his costume is a perfect contrast of the 11th Doctors personality, when we first meet the 11th Doctor he is childlike, eccentric and a little all over the place but his costume suggests he should be someone quite mature. His costume still manages to present the Doctor as quirky and intelligent which helps contribute to the authority and presence this character has when he walks into a room.

Of course, my opinion may totally change after seeing what the 13th Doctor has to offer us. From what I’ve seen so far, I’ve been very impressed with her costume (although I’m not going to lie, its mostly because I would definitely wear something very similar to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor). But we will have to wait and see!

Why all the fuss?

Independence from fast fashion clothing – why all the fuss?

In my previous post, I talked about how I was challenging myself to become more self-sufficient; becoming independent of clothing from large fashion industry clothing and commercial clothing companies. I realise that apart from a short paragraph at the beginning I didn’t particularly explain why I have given myself this challenge, so hopefully this post will enlighten you.

Making clothing that suits my body shape.

As I am sure most of you know, humans come in all shapes and sizes, sadly the majority of clothing companies seem to struggle with this concept. Don’t get me wrong I believe it has gotten a lot better, and I in no way expect the fashion industry to cater to every person’s individual body shape. However, it is important to recognise that the fashion industries toxic way of advertising clothing to fit only a select few body shapes is probably a big contributor to the unhappiness that people have towards their body.

I have always struggled to find clothes that properly fit, and clothing is so important to help with a person’s confidence. So I decided I’m going to stop buying clothes that “fit well enough”, I’m going to spend my time and energy on making clothes that are comfortable and fit me amazingly, after all I didn’t study a course focused on costume and clothing construction for nothing!

Showing the unique me through my clothes

For most people the way that they dress is not only for practical function, (for example to keep themselves warm etc.) but as a way of self-expression, with many people sacrificing comfort to show the world who they truly are. I mean people who wear high-heeled shoes and claim they are comfortable are liars or magicians! Of course, there is a lot of psychology and theories as to why we find it so important to express ourselves which I won’t delve into right now. The point is, I think it will be a lot easier to present my personality through my clothes if I am making bespoke garments for myself.

Also, a huge bonus, I’ll be able to add pockets to everything! No more novelty of finding the odd garments in shops with actual functional pockets, but useful and convenient pockets that will make people turn green with jealousy with how practical they are.

Challenging my sewing skills

 Since I am taking a year out there is a big risk that I could get out of practise with my pattern making and construction skills, something I want to make sure doesn’t happen. This challenge will although me to improve my sewing skills such as working with stretch material and motivate myself to learn new skills such as making bras for myself.

To encourage me to use my time and money wisely

 I am a chronic procrastinator, and one of my favourite ways to procrastinate is by scrolling down endless pages of clothes sites especially when there’s a sale.  Which then results in a rather large basket of items I don’t particularly need (I mean its more than half price how could I not!) and then my poor bank account and future Tobi-Miranda suffers.

So hopefully if I am no longer allowing myself to buy clothes from these shops I will be saving myself time and money. The biggest challenge will to make sure I don’t procrastinate through online fabric shopping instead!

To be kinder to the world

It is no secret that fast fashion and clothes in general has huge negative environmental and ethical consequences. I mean a quick google search with the topics clothes and waste and pages of results appealing for people to reduce their waste and the harmful effects that our clothing is actually having. One site, sustainyourstyle.org (which is definitely worth a look at) states that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world! Many of the clothes available in shops are made in poorer countries with very few or no laws in regards of getting rid of the waste produced and laws that look after the workers that actually make the clothes. This is something that doesn’t really sit right with me anymore. I hope that by doing this I will be reducing waste as well as being more ethical.

I hope this has been an interesting read and that you now have a better idea as to my thought process behind why I decided to give this a shot!

Challenge Accepted – No more clothes shopping for me!

I am a lover of clothes, costume and fashion, I suppose that comes as no surprise after studying a degree in Costume Interpretation with Design. However, I have found it more and more difficult to find clothing that I feel comfortable in, that I love wearing and that suits my style, body shape and small budget. I am also increasingly conscious of the environmental and ethical problems that come with the clothing industry and high street clothing stores.

So, I have given myself a challenge which will hopefully combat all the aforementioned issues.

The Challenge

By this time next year, it is my aim to be completely independent of commercial clothing shops and large fashion industry brands. I am going to stop shopping in highstreets shops and online clothing stores and clothe myself in garments I have either made myself, or clothing that I have found and bought from charity shops.

The Rules

I’ve put a lot of thought into how I will go about this, and decided I needed some ground rules to keep me on track and to keep me motivated. I did a lot of brain storming; would I throw all my old clothes out and start from the beginning? Would I accept new garments as gifts? What if I get invited to a last minute special event and have no time to make a new garment?
I knew the scatter-brained person that I am would not succeed without some guidelines, because If I didn’t I would get side tracked, make mistakes and give myself allowances. (I mean I am sure I will slip up every so often, sadly I am only human.)
So my rules are as follows:

  • From today onwards (nearly) all my new clothing will be sourced from charity shops, or made by myself. – The only exceptions to this rule will be uniforms and clothing required for work as these need to meet dress code and safety regulations which I sadly cannot recreate myself. (oh yeah guys, I have a part time job now, 10 adult points to me!)

 

  • Charity shops are okay, sales are not!
    I’m sure some of you reading are thinking that shopping in charity shops is a little bit like cheating. I contemplated this for a while and decided that I would allow myself to shop in charity shops. This is because clothing bought in a charity shop helps reduce waste by giving clothes a second or sometime even a third life and the majority of the money made from the purchases goes to good causes and charities. More than anything I get a lot of pleasure from searching through charity shops.
    However, I decided that shopping in sales would not be allowed in my challenge for a number of reasons, the main reason being that the majority of my clothing already comes from sales and special discounted offers. I very rarely buy anything at its full price as I’ve been a student pretty much all my life and because the thrifty side of my brain just gets so much satisfaction from a good bargain. Sadly, the challenge would be pointless if I continued to shop in sales.

 

  • Any existing clothing that I own will not be thrown away. I will mend all damaged or broken garments and adjust any clothing to improve the fit and size if needed. If there comes a time when I no longer want an item of clothing I will donate it rather than throwing it away. This will reduce my waste and hopefully the garment will bring joy to someone else!

 

  • I know for rule one I said that uniform would be the only exception however for the first six months I will allow myself to buy any undergarments (i.e. socks, bras). During this time I will also be learning and teaching myself to make my own underwear, so after the six months is over I will be making my own. This is something I have wanted to learn for a while and so hopefully this will give me the push I need to actually do it.

 

  • Hand me downs and gifts. In my family and group of friends, receiving hand me downs are very important and exciting time. In our family, we have items of clothing that were not only worn by myself and siblings but also to cousins and close family friends and have gotten worn by at least by five different people at different times. It’s a great way to save money, waste and build community. Now I’m getting older it is rarer to get hand me downs, however it will be something that I will allow for my challenge.
    Receiving clothing from commercial shops as gifts on the other hand is something I have decided to try and avoid. At the risk of sounding rude, this will be something I will try and dissuade people from doing, to be honest I don’t think this will be too much of a problem as the people I tend to receive gifts from are close family and friends who will probably read this post, (Hello family!) and will hopefully understand what I am trying to achieve. Instead i’ll ask that any gifted clothing I do receive come from charity shops or a metre or two of jazzy material.

 

  • Accessories were difficult to decide on, for starters it took me a while to decide whether they counted as part of the challenge, as they are not really clothing, but you do wear them. I have split them up into types of accessories, things I knew for sure that I could make and things that I would struggle to make without proper equipment and training. So accessories including hats, scarves, bags and belts will all be made by myself or sourced from charity shops from today onwards. Shoes, jewellery and for now gloves (as I believe they take a lot of skill, time and practise to perfect) will not be part of the challenge. Despite this I will make sure to source these items from independent or small business’s if I can, making sure that these items will be durable and last a long time.

 

These conclude my rules for now, I’m not expected to get it completely perfect, like i said i probably will make mistakes at first. I shall keep you updated as to how it all goes. Wish me luck!

Graduation and my Gap Year

CCAD’s Costume Graduates, Class of 2018

On the 3rd July 2018 I graduated university with a degree in BA(Hons) in Costume Interpretation with Design from Cleveland College of Art and Design (now known as The Northern School of Art).
It was the most wonderful and lovely day, despite having no sleep the night before because I was finishing my dress that I had decided to make last-minute for the graduation ceremony. And even though I managed to slice my ankle as I was hurriedly shaving my legs half an hour before I had to leave and had to spend the rest of the day periodically replacing bandage after bandage to stop blood from getting all over my new red suede shoes.

 

I assure you though, it was probably one of the best days of my year, the weather was amazing, I loved my outfit, I loved the wearing the cap and gown and I got to spend the day surrounded by my friends and family all proud that we’d made it through three years of university!

 

So now that day is a whole month in the past what am I doing as a Costume Graduate? What does the future hold for Tobi-Miranda?

 

To be totally honest, I have no clue what so ever!

 

Whilst my friends are off pursuing jobs in the costume industry, church internships or studying Masters, I decided to take a year to myself. I suppose one could describe it as a “Gap Year” or as my dad has called it on many an occasion, a “Consolidation Year”, which I think sounds far more impressive.

 

For those who don’t know, (because before I looked it up I certainly didn’t) consolidation is used to describe the “action or process of making something stronger”. Which I think is such a great word to describe what I aim to do in this next year, because right now I don’t think I possess the strength or courage to go out and face the world of “adulting”.

 

You see I have a lot of work to do before I would define myself as consolidated. To list a few, I need to learn to drive, I need to improve both my physical and mental health, I want to improve my costume construction skills in my own independent study. Not to mention your standard “gap year” activities such as travelling, part-time jobs and volunteer work. Things I’ve only just started to properly consider.

 

I also have to confront the fact that this is probably the first time in my life where I don’t have anything tying to a certain place or job. I’ve finished education, I currently don’t have a job, as long as I have enough to get by I could do anything. The world is my oyster! I get to dictate completely what I do now, which is incredible and exciting!

 

Don’t get me wrong, the uncertainty and all possibility of what is to come puts me through cycles of crippling dread to contagious optimism and excitement at least five times a day. But right now, I am so excited for all the possibilities that wait for me, I’m ready to take to up new challenges and to work hard to be better. I am going to make sure I boss this consolidation year and become the most consolidated person around, you just wait and see!

The Costumes in “The Legend of Tarzan”

The_Legend_of_Tarzan_posterThe other day my friend and I made an impromptu trip to the cinema to see “The Legend of Tarzan”, a film directed by David Yates (who has previously directed the last four Harry Potter Films) and starring Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan and Margot Robbie.

The film has an excellent array of costumes, from the tight constricting costumes for the scenes based in late victorian England, to the costumes worn by the natives of Africa. The film also had an excellent example of ageing and distressing of the costumes. The Costume Designer for the film was Ruth Myers who has previously worked on “The Golden Compass”.

Tarzan and George Washington Williams dressed in tightVictorian clothing.
Tarzan and George Washington Williams dressed in tightVictorian clothing.

Ruth Myers very cleverly helped to show the character of Tarzan through her costumes; at the beginning of the film he is shown dressed in tight high collared clothing that he looks very uncomfortable in, trying to play the role of a civilised gentlemen, it is not until he reaches his old home were he starts to transition into a more comfortable self, at first just loosing the tie and jacket until eventually he’s just wearing trousers.

A great example of how the costumes started to show deconstruction later on in the film.
A great example of how the costumes started to show deconstruction later on in the film.

Same goes for Jane, she too grew up in Africa and although she was not raised by gorillas she has a wilder spirit that doesn’t seem to fit in the strict society of Victorian/Edwardian Britain. This is not only seen through Margot Robbie’s amazing acting but also the way costume is used. At the beginning of the film she is shown refusing to pack corsets (which would have been seen as very improper as a lady). I also found it interesting that throughout throughout the majority of the film she wears white, a colour associated with purity and innocence as well as weakness. I interpret it that she is dressed in white as a contrast to Tarzan’s character but also her own. Jane is in no way weak and even when she is captured she is still fierce. The fact that she is dressed in white makes her seem stronger and enhances the characters determination and bravery.

I wanted to find out more about Ruth Myers making process, so i found this wonderful article (found here) where she is interviewed and explains a lot about the process and what her role in the film entailed.
In the article she talks about how David Yates didn’t want the costumes “that didn’t look period” despite the film being a period film. She says that she really had to think about how she was going to make costumes that still fit with the time and not upset the audience with its inaccuracy but at the same time make the costumes seem more relatable to a modern audience.

In the article she also talks about the challenges of working with actors that drastically changed shape through the movie. As part of the role Alexander Skarsgård had to work hard to make himself look like Tarzan, he became more toned and his muscles became more defined and apparently  his body still changed through shooting. Often Ruth Myers would have to be on set to adjust Skarsgård’s costume so that it actually fit him.

As i said before, any of the costumes in the film show excellent examples of ageing and distressing. In the article i found out that Margot Robbie, who plays Jane wore nearly 300 different versions of the same dress but in different levels of distress. This is was to make the film flow and make it appear more realistic as the costume is shown to be broken down gradually rather than all at once.

Jane's Costume towards later on in the film.
Jane’s Costume towards later on in the film.

I hadn’t really seen the trailer for the film and was expecting a film similar to the Disney version of the film, but within the first 5 minutes of the film it became very evident that the film was more true to the book written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Which i thought was fantastic! The film not only followed the story, but also addressed social and historic issues, such as racism, sexism and slavery all while making the audience gasp at Tarzans amazing and daring feats and laugh at George Washington Williams. Overall i would say the this film was very impressive and was much better than i expected it to be, not only for the amazing costumes but the acting and brilliant storyline!

I would absolutely recommend this film 🙂

TM

Costume History – Undergarments that the Tudors wore.

As promised, i am continuing from my last post about 15th century undergarments and i am focusing on the undergarments worn by the tudors in the 16th century.

The Tudors reigned during the 16th century: as many of you will know, this group of aristocrats lived very lavish lives and so had, many portraits painted of themselves. It is through these portraits of iconic rulers such as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, that has allowed historians to study the clothing that was worn in this time.

For the majority of the 16th century the feminine silhouette was created by a tight bodice that today would be recognised as a corset (but at the time was called a “pair of bodys” and the farthingale which caused women of the time to have a rigid, unnatural figure. However, at the time this figure was considered to be very elegant and beautiful.

A portrait of Catherine of Aargon by Unknown artist, painted in the 1520s. (Image found here)
A portrait of Catherine of Aargon by Unknown artist, painted in the 1520s. (Image found here)

At this time, fashions mostly came from Spain, and it is believed that Catherine of Aaragon (Henry VIII’s first wife) brought fashions such as the Farthingale to England from Spain. After all, it was the Spaniards who introduced the farthingale (or the vertugado) in 1470. The farthingale was a structured underskirt which would then be worn with layers of skirts over the top so the structure could not be seen.

The Spanish Farthingale was worn by nobles and members of the court from as early as 1525. The early Spanish farthingale was made of a stiffened pad with hoops of young saplings to hold the skirt out. Later on, the farthingale started to be made using a series of hoops made from saplings, cane and later whalebone. Farthingales made in this way started with narrow hoops at the top of the structure which then gradually got wider towards the bottom. This gave the farthingale the desired cone-shaped appearance. The farthingale was fastened around the waist and relied on the structured bodice (known as a pair of body’s) to hold it in place. This style of farthingale was worn in England and France until the middle of the century.

This Portrait of Catherine Parr painted by Master John in 1545 is an example of the silhouette a Spanish Farthingale would create. (image found here)
This Portrait of Catherine Parr painted by Master John in 1545 is an example of the silhouette a Spanish Farthingale would create. (image found here)

By the 1580s, the French court wore an adapted version of the Spanish Farthingale which came to be known as the Wheel Farthingale. It was named this because when it was worn it made the wearer look like she was stood in the middle of a wheel with a skirt worn over the top. This style of farthingale was much more padded than the Spanish Farthingale which made the hips look wider. The Wheel Farthingale was narrower at the front and back and it tilted forward slightly because of the pointed part of the bodice pressing it down. The Wheel farthingale was very popular in England between 1560 and 1620. Although this was a very popular fashion there a quite a few accounts of women complaining about how uncomfortable the wheel farthingale was to wear.

Portrait of Elizabeth I by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, painted in 1592 shows the silhouette that a wheel farthingale created.
Portrait of Elizabeth I by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, painted in 1592 shows the silhouette that a wheel farthingale created. (Image found here)
Sketches of a Spanish farthingale (left) and a wheel farthingale (right). (Image found here)
Sketches of a Spanish farthingale (left) and a wheel farthingale (right).
(Image found here)

Women in a lower class that could not afford to wear the heavily structured farthingale that the ladies in the court wore would often wear a roll farthingale which is also known as a bum roll. This is so that they could also achieve the fashionable silhouette of the time. The roll farthingale was worn around the waist under the skirt to make the skirt flow out.

A reproduction of a roll farthingale (bum roll) (Image found here)
A reproduction of a roll farthingale (bum roll)
(Image found here)

As well as the farthingale skirt, women in this era would also wear a stiffened bodice which would be worn keep the torso straight and slim. This stiffened bodice was recognised by several names such as the cotte, the gambeson, the doublet and the pourpoint, however the most common name was “a pair of bodys).

A Pair of Bodys that the German lady Pfaltzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg was buried in. They date from 1598. (Image found here)
A Pair of Bodys that the German lady Pfaltzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg was buried in. They date from 1598.
(Image found here)

This early form of the corset was a simple shape and was most likely made from linen that was stiffened with paste and a busk. The bodys were made this way to keep the slender and cylindrical shape of the wearers waist. The bodys would also raise and flatten the breasts. The pair of bodys would also be made with be made with straps to provide support and to keep the pair of bodys in place.

In the second half of the century the pair of bodys were reinforced by adding strips of whalebone to the sides and the back. The introduction of these strips meant that the lacing had to be moved. Before bodys were made with lacings that tied at the sides, but bodys started to be laced at the centre back or the centre front. This lead to the introduction of the stomacher which became a trend that lasted well into the 18th century.

Queen Elizabeth I "effigy corset" is a good example of 16th century "bodys". The body is made from three pieces, it laces up at front with 29 eyelets on either side and is structured with whalebone.
Queen Elizabeth I “effigy corset” is a good example of 16th century “bodys”.
The body is made from three pieces, it laces up at front with 29 eyelets on either side and is structured with whalebone. (Image found here)

They became so popular because when bodys started to be laced at the front, dresses and bodices started to be made with open fronts and so highly decorated V and U shaped panels (known as stomachers) were used to cover the lacings of the bodys. The stomacher would be held in place by pinning or tying the stomacher to the pair of bodys. Interestingly stomachers were stiffened with wooden slats to add even more structure to the outfit.

I hope you found this helpful and interesting. Watch out for my next post about the undergarments worn in the 17th century, and if you haven’t already you should read my previous post on the undergarments of the 15th century.

Thank you for reading

TM

This is where i got a lot of my information:
Corsets and Crinoline – Norah Waugh
European Costume, 400 years of fashion – Doreen Yarwood
Support and seduction, a history of corsets and bras – Beatrice Fontanel
V&A – Underwear fashion in Detail – Eleri Lynn
Historical Costumes of England 1066-1956 – N. Bradfield
Tudor Costume and Fashion – hereby Norris
www.fashionencyclopdia.com