Costume Drama

The Forsyte Saga season 2 is incredibly disappointing (ABC, Sundays at 8.30pm). There’s no doubt that season one was soapy — but it was good soapy. Season 2 is just boring and listless and full of characters behaving out of character.
To make matters worse the costumes make me cry out “and what is THAT?” every time a new one is strutted across the screen.

These are upper class English folks who would have been wearing the best there was of the era. At best the dresses look badly fitted and at worst some of the costumes are just plain U.G.L.Y. Almost all of the suits look like they were found in an op-shop (or at the back of ITV’s costume wardrobe) and the dresses and hats are awkward and unflattering. Perhaps they were captured from the pages of 1930s fashion catalogues and are historically accurate but that’s no excuse for clothes that make the most beautiful heroines (both old and young) look frumpy and mismatched and the (unfortunately rather wet) heroes look like they have grown out of their suits.

I love a good costume drama — and often costume is the operative word for me.

The Gangs of New York is a film that I would watch again just for the costumes (certainly not for the rambling story line). We got the DVD out a month or so ago and most interesting (for me at least) was the short featurette about the costume design and production. Fabulous fabrics and detailed research. Sandy Powell was the designer heading the team behind the 7000+ costumes required for the movie and her vision was brilliant. After a IMBD search I find that Sandy Powell is also the designer behind the costumes in Shakespeare in Love and Orlando. I also see that she has done the costumes for a film called Sylvia starring Gweneth Paltrow as Sylvia Plath!

“There’s a beauty in dirt” [She says,] “When I go to the movies, I think, Why is that dress so clean? The boat is going down and they look perfect. You want to have beauty in a film, but if something looks a bit worn, a bit soiled, it usually has more depth.” From a great Salon article about her work.

I am looking forward to seeing what wondrous frocks come out of her imagination for The Aviator — Cate Blanchette plays Katherine Hepburn to Leo Caprio’s Howard Hughes.