'THE CROWN' COSTUME DESIGNER ON DRESSING A ROYAL WEDDING, JACKIE KENNEDY AND THE SEXY, SWINGING '60S IN SEASON TWO
Jane Petrie also starts Queen Elizabeth II's wardrobe evolution into her current day signature style.
FAWNIA SOO HOODEC 8, 2017
Despite the setting of 1956 to 1964, the second season of the Queen Elizabeth II biopic series "The Crown" hits pretty close to home right now, with a televised royal wedding (to a commoner!), U.S.-Anglo relations in need of "repair" — although then it was due to the U.K.'s involvement in the Suez Canal Crisis as opposed to the sitting U.S. President's objectionable Twitter activity — and institutionalized sexism all around. But fans of the Netflix show also have the privilege to binge scintillating 20th century political intrigue, royal family drama — possibly giving insight into why Princes William and Harry became such seemingly chill guys, to be featured season five or so — and gorgeous, gorgeous costumes thanks to Jane Petrie, who takes over from the first season's Michele Clapton and Timothy Everest.
For the sophomore season, the London-based costume designer enjoyed the opportunity to explore and reflect a transitional time in Queen Elizabeth's (Claire Foy) life and marriage to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Matt Smith); the out-of-touch monarchy, which needed to become accessible to British subjects of all socio-demographics (and more accepting of Princess Margaret's marriage choices); the decline of Britain as a global power; and the progressive, increasingly egalitarian and ultimately sexy attitudes of the swinging '60s. For Queen Elizabeth, that meant a move into softer cardigan and skirt sets for negotiations with her husband (and more than one Prime Minister) and an approachable pink and white polka-dot skirt suit for lunch with the middle class when the Palace opens up to the public. Of course, there are plenty of sumptuous gowns, too.
"We made hundreds of bloody dresses," laughed Petrie, over the phone from London.
Season two not only includes iconic historical milestones and scandals, but also iconic fashion moments and people: the return of Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson (Lia Williams) and a few appearances by 35th FLOTUS Jacqueline Kennedy (Jodie Balfour). Plus, glamorous younger sister Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) meets dreamboat photographer and future First Earl of Snowden, Antony "Tony" Armstrong-Jones Matthew Goode), leading to another delicious fashion evolution — and royal wedding to recreate.
Petrie, who also designed the Carey Mulligan-starring film, "Suffragette," was more than happy to discuss season two costume moments in detail, including how she gave Princess Margaret a boho sensibility, took a little license in dressing Jackie Kennedy and brought one royal family member through the quintessential on-screen shopping montage. Here are the highlights.
How did Queen Elizabeth II's costumes reflect this transitional time in both her life and for Britain?
I knew that I wanted her to arrive at something toward the end of the season. When you look at the way the Queen dresses now, there's a residue of the way she looked around about the mid '60s. She started to almost find what would become her solid look. I knew we had to move away from those pinched in waists of the '50s, not only for fashion, but for her story and the choices that she made — and we had her pregnancies [of Princes Andrew and Edward] in this season, as well.
But I wanted it to feel that she was slightly trapped inside the world of the palace, and the monarchy and outside world was moving in such a rapid forward propulsion that she was becoming almost isolated from her people and the outside world. And yet Margaret was becoming much more in touch with all of that. There were sort of fairly easy kind of story arcs to mark, in a sense, because you saw that young fresh Queen with the nipped-in waists in season one and then someone who needed to reconnect with the public. I was hoping I could tell some of that through clothing.
Vanessa Kirby as Margaret is excellent this season, as is her wardrobe. How does costume help tell where she's going?
When I picked up on Margaret after season one, she was quite fashionable in dress, anyway, so I felt I'd put her in touch with something that was more bohemian. When she starts off, she doesn't start off stuffy, but she's still quite cool — and she's got all these fantastic cocktail dresses — but she's getting more and more bored around the palace and is needing the excitement that Tony is going to bring. So it was about finding fabrics and costumes that could show her connecting with the art world instead of just the aristocratic world, which was all about wealth and hardly anything that she wanted. Suddenly there was something that she might not be able to have, even if she wanted it enough. So I was looking at different, more ‘60s cloths and colors and trying to move into something more edgy and urban and bohemian.
You could definitely see the transition, especially in the beautiful and paint-spatter-like coat she wears to Tony's gallery opening.
I had already made different costumes for that scene and then I found that cloth during the week we were shooting it. She had a black coat she wears in a different scene now. I found that silk velvet and painted, kind of, mid-century canvas and I thought it was too good not to use. So we pushed that into the workroom schedule so she could have it for the gallery opening. It feels fantastic in your hand. I loved it. Sometimes you have a lucky day, and you need to change direction because you find something that you want you weren't looking for and it's just perfect for saying everything that you need it to say.
The dress Margaret wears to what turns out to be her official 29th birthday photo shoot ended up being kind of a plot device. How did you design that dress to culminate in her "naked" birthday photo?
She arrived in a lovely lace blouse, for the dark room sequence, which looked fantastic in the red light, but she changed into [that] dress. The whole thing was built around [Tony] being able to take it [off her shoulders] because we thought, 'she's squeamish; she can't be naked in the photo, she's still Princess Margaret.' He has to find a camera angle to be suggestive. So we had to design something that he could pull off her shoulder. That, we had to cheat in. It was more about addressing it very quickly to become invisible.
Because 'The Crown' is always in sort of in flux — it's always being written and it grows and you'd get new scenes — I'm not certain, but in the early sequences that I read, [viewers] didn't see the actual photo shoot. [The camera] just cuts to the photograph [in the newspaper]. I worked really hard on what she was going to wear in the dark room and then they said, 'we are going to see that dress.'
For the Royal Wedding, Margaret and her entire wedding party were recreated down to the last detail. What went into the design process for that segment?
That's what's so wild about 'The Crown.' You read [the script] and the [goal is] the family photograph at the end of that episode. And then you have to say, 'oh hang on a minute. We've got to make [the entire family's costumes and] that really well-known blue gown for the Queen, for a still, really?' I don't know if [the directive] came from costume or from the directors, but eventually [the script included a dressing montage of the whole family] in front of the mirror getting ready. So that was helpful because I felt we were getting a little bit more screen time for all that work. Because sometimes in 'The Crown,' you get a line on a page that seems like nothing and you start and think, 'hang on a minute, that's a really famous photograph. There's no cheating here. We're going to have to make all that.'
What were the challenges in recreating Margaret's wedding gown?
When you look at images of that dress, the way that the layers of the organza sit, they hold their shape in quite a soft, rounded, almost cloud-like way on the top of the dress — [it was hard] to find the right weights of cloth to get the layers, so it would hold its shape and it wouldn't collapse, but you would be able see through some of the layers, like her sleeves. You can see her arms through the sleeves, but they're not sheer, they're a bit milky. The challenge was just getting the right fabric.
For the Kennedys' visit in episode eight, you recreated Queen Elizabeth's sky blue dress, but gave Jackie Kennedy a strapless version of her Chez Ninon shantung gown. Why was that?
We can't resist [recreating the Queen's look because] we had that whole storyline of her choosing that dress. I couldn't have done anything better to see what we needed to see — of her having to stand side-by-side with Jackie Kennedy. It's all there in the actual gown. Then you kind of go with the actress in the fitting, sometimes you think, 'that suits you better, let's do that.' I think we didn't make too many changes to Jackie Kennedy's outfit, but there are a few tweaks that we did just because we were having a lot of fun.
One of my favorite gowns for the whole season: [Jackie Kennedy] wears a yellow and black evening gown [by Chez Ninon in a quick scene showing a 1961 White House state dinner]. It's got a bright yellow silk skirt and a black bodice. In reality she wore white gloves, but we gave her black ones because it was a lot more dramatic. It would have felt a bit more conservative to a modern eye if she had white gloves on and it felt like we were really breaking a rule from looking at photographs. We [went with what looked better] for the story we were trying to tell.
What was your process behind creating original looks for the more intimate moments that the public wouldn't have seen or have records of?
By the time we got going with it, we were getting to the point of making it up, really, rather than just going with existing information. We felt that we knew the characters, so you go about the way you go about other films that are fictional. I knew what my storylines were, I knew what I was trying to say, the things that would feel right or wrong for the character and I would get some options and start building it in traditional way. When you've done a lot of good prep and good solid research and worked hard on the script before you make any costumes, you get to the point where you start to rely on your instincts. I think you can overthink it and you can take the spirit out of the costume by trying to be too academic about it.
Queen Mother (Victoria Hamilton), Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and the kids enjoy movie night at home in the palace in episode three. Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix
Queen Mother (Victoria Hamilton), Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and the kids enjoy movie night at home in the palace in episode three. Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix
Prince Charles is the only royal family member to enjoy a shopping montage in anticipation of starting Eton. What research and attention to detail went into that series of costumes?
That's another example of a very, very small line on a page becoming a whole day of filming and me saying to Stephen [Daldry], 'what do you want in this montage?' And it becomes, 'we want the boating outfit, the rugby, all the different outfits.' The next thing, we're on the phone to the company that provides the costumes to Eton, and they're in their archives and we're trying to work out exactly what everybody would have worn at that time. It starts off as Charles is at the outfitters and then you move on [and] it's like seven more costumes.
But it's dead good fun because, often, a lot of films that I’ve done in the past have been incredibly low budget, so a lot of my experiences [have been designing as] much as possible with as little as possible. But on 'The Crown,' you can just do it right.
'The Crown' season two is available for streaming on Friday, December 8 on Netflix.
Top photo: Robert Viglasky / Netflix
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Costume designer Michele Clapton (third left) poses with a selection of her designs which will appear in upcoming Netflix series The Crown, based on the life of Queen Elizabeth II
Sumptuous silks, fur stoles and some VERY blingy tiaras: Designer unveils her lavish costumes for £100m Netflix biopic on the Queen's life
Netflix series on the Queen's life in the 1940s and 1950s airs next month
Cost an estimated £100m to make and has been hailed as the most expensive television series ever with lavish costumes and set design
Designer Michele Clapton has unveiled the collection featuring replicas of iconic outfits from throughout the Queen's life and reign
By Unity Blott For Mailonline
PUBLISHED: 12:26 GMT, 18 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:11 GMT, 18 October 2016
It's been hailed as one of the most lavish series of all time, so it's only fitting that The Crown has a costume cupboard to match.
The new biopic following the Queen's life in the 1940s and 1950s, which airs next month, has cost an estimated £100million to make.
And on Monday, producers unveiled the sumptuous costumes that lead actress Claire Foy and her co-stars will wear - many of which are exact replicas of iconic outfits from throughout the Queen's life and reign.
Painstakingly recreated from the originals, the attention to detail in some of the outfits, created by BAFTA-winning designer Michele Clapton, means they could easily pass for the real thing.
One sweeping turquoise ballgown, complete with a fur stole and replica diamond tiara, is almost identical to a piece that our then-30-year-old Queen wore to an evening engagement at the 1956 Edinburgh Festival.
Another standout ensemble is a strapless gold number featuring intricate floral embroidery and paired with a delicate tulle shawl.
The collection also features a pink fishtail gown with ruching detail worn by Princess Margaret, played by Vanessa Kirby in the new series which airs next month.
The stunning collection also features a replica of Her Majesty's wedding to Prince Philip in 1947, complete with a flowing veil and diamond tiara.
Sir Norman Hartnell, who designed the original gown, has since said that he set out to produce ‘the most beautiful dress I had made so far’. It was made in ivory silk, decorated with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls.
The silkworms used to manufacture the fabric were brought from China, rather than Japan or Italy, which had so recently been enemy countries, and the gown incorporated a 15ft star-patterned train inspired by the famous Renaissance painting of Primavera by Botticelli, symbolising rebirth and growth after World War II.
But it isn't all glitz and glamour; another outfit is based on her favourite off-duty look of a simple rain coat, wellies and headscarf which she often wears during trips to Balmoral.
The gowns were presented on Monday by designer Michele Clapton and British actress Vanessa Kirby, who plays Princess Margaret in the series.
The Netflix original series follows Queen Elizabeth II as a 25-year-old newlywed faced with the daunting prospect of leading the world’s most famous monarchy while forging a relationship with then-Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill.
It came at a time when the British Empire was in decline, the political world was in disarray; acclaimed writer Peter Morgan's meticulously-researched script sets out to reveal the Queen's 'private journey' behind the public facade.
Producers teased: 'Prepare to be welcomed into the coveted world of power and privilege and behind locked doors in Westminster and Buckingham Palace... the leaders of an empire await.'
Hosted by British Fashion Commentator Caryn Franklin MBE, Monday's presentation saw Michele take the audience through the planning and development process behind the stunning costumes - as well as leading a discussion on fashion in the 1950s and the royal costumes that shaped the style of a generation.
The Crown will see Peter Morgan team up with director Stephen Daldry (the man behind Billy Elliot and The Hours) and producer Andy Harries.
Based on the award-winning play The Audience, it tells the inside story of Queen Elizabeth II's early reign, revealing the personal intrigues, romances, and political rivalries behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th Century.
The series stars Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, Matt Smith as Prince Philip, John Lithgow as Sir Winston Churchill, and Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Mother.
It also features Jared Harris as King George VI, Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret and Dame Eileen Atkins as Queen Mary, among others.
The first ten episodes will be broadcast next month.
Behind the scenes: Matt (Prince Philip) and Clare Foy (Queen Elizabeth II) with a young Prince Charles
Matt is wearing our Bespoke Charcoal Double Breasted Suit
Off-duty style includes Matt wearing our Bespoke Grey Pleated Trousers
Matt Smith wearing our Bespoke Dinner Suit
Matt in our Bespoke Black 3 Piece Suit
Alex Jennings as the Duke of Windsor wearing our Bespoke Navy Windowpane Check Suit
Bow Down To The Crown
29th September 2016
The official trailer for ‘The Crown’, Netflix’s hotly anticipated new series, has been released and is swiftly cultivating a mass following before it’s even been launched (4th November, put it in your diary).
The reason we’re so excited? Our talented Bespoke team worked with The Crown’s costume department to create a number of garments for the first series, and we have already got to work on series two. With a star studded cast, we were fortunate enough to make suits and other tailored pieces for Matt Smith, Jared Harris, Alex Jennings, Jeremy Northam, Stephen Dillane, Vanessa Kirby and Ben Miles.
Matt Smith stars as Prince Philip, opposite Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II. The series, based on Peter Morgan’s 2013 play ‘The Audience’, tells the story of the life of Queen Elizabeth II as she prepares to take the throne at the young age of 25, during a challenging time in British history.
In the photo above Matt is wearing one of our Bespoke Double Breasted Suits, very much the iconic style of Prince Philip, in a charcoal wool.
You can watch the trailer below, and head over to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where we will be unveiling more images over the coming weeks.
If you find yourself sartorially inspired by the series, and would like to commission piece of Bespoke you can contact the team via email@example.com or call +44(0)20 3802 7006
Putting On The Crown
4th November 2016
After much anticipation, Netflix have now released their eagerly awaited new series ‘The Crown’. For our regular readers, you will have seen some preview images and read our online feature as we announced our involvement with the show. If you’re reading this and scratching your head as to why we are so excited, let us explain some more.
‘The Crown’ tells the story of the life of Queen Elizabeth II as she prepares to take the throne at the young age of 25, during a challenging time in British history. The series has been heralded as a first of its kind for delving behind the glamorous exterior of the British Monarchy. To ensure this production reflected reality as much as possible they not only needed to seek the perfect actors (which they did), they also needed to build a costume department that could easily be mistaken for the real life wardrobe of our much loved Royals.
We were thrilled when Michele Clapton, head of wardrobe for the series, asked us to get involved. Michele spent a huge amount of time researching clothes worn by the Royals, and we worked tirelessly to recreate these garments and we’re so pleased with the result. We were very lucky to work with Matt Smith, who stars as Prince Philip, creating a variety of suits and trousers for his role. We also created tailoring for the below;
Alex Jennings as the Duke of Windsor
Jared Harris as King George VI
Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret
Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden
Stephen Dillane as Graham Sutherland
Ben Miles as Peter Townsend
Below are some images of various Bespoke creations we made for the show, which we are very excited to share with you. If you head over to our Instagram account and follow us, we will be posting more images over the coming days.
If you are feeling sartorially inspired and would like to book an appointment to meet with our bespoke team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44(0)20 3802 7006. For those of you based in New York, you’re in luck. Lee (Head of Bespoke) and Fred (House Cutter) will be jetting over to the big Apple from 15th-18th November, setting up residency at The Standard High Line to hold fittings and meetings. Get in touch with the team via the contacts above to book yourself an appointment.
Determined to become part of the fashion industry, but unable to make a breakthrough, Everest decided to use his knowledge of tailoring. He answered an advertisement placed in the London Evening Standard, in 1982, by Tommy Nutter; 'Boy wanted in Savile Row'. He pestered Nutter for weeks, until he was given the job. Nutter's client base included rock stars, celebrities, politicians and businessmen; he famously dressed The Beatles and The Stones. Everest also mixed with future celebrities of the fashion world. John Galliano, who had been studying at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, passed on some design skills to Everest, while on work placement with Nutter. Everest met his future wife Catherine (now an actress and film producer) at this time, while she was also working with Nutter. The couple have two daughters. Everest's time under Nutter, a Savile Row revolutionary in the 1960s, inspired him to experiment with tone and pattern in his own designs. In 1986, after nearly five years as Nutter's apprentice, Everest was persuaded to move on to work for Malcolm Levene. He had become disillusioned with Savile Row, particularly with their lack of appreciation for Nutter's more modern approach. Everest found that working with Levene, a small menswear retailer based away from Savile Row, on Chiltern Street, provided a welcome change. During Everest's first year there, Levene's turnover doubled.
Leaving Levene in the late 1980s to become a freelance stylist in television advertising, MTV and film, Everest began styling bands and pop stars such as George Michael. He recognised a shift in perception of the male fashion industry; men had become more label conscious. This had coincided with the increased awareness of top-end fashion designers, like Hugo Boss and Armani, highlighted by men's lifestyle magazines; such as Arena and The Face. He said, "I thought that if we could demystify bespoke tailoring and make it more accessible, as well as really understanding what was going on in ready-to-wear fashion and being directional with it, there was possibly a market there."Having decided to create the Timothy Everest brand as an alternative to 'designer' ready-to-wear, he searched for a suitable location away from "the stuffiness of Savile Row".
Everest opened his first premises in 1989; in Princelet Street, Spitalfields, just outside the City of London, in the East End. He said, "We started in one room of a house. We had one rail with four garments on and a telephone, no chairs, no furniture." To begin with, business was slow. Moving premises in 1993, he chose a three-storey, early Georgian townhouse (built in 1724), just north of Old Spitalfields Market in nearby Elder Street – the former home of artist Mark Gertler (1891–1939) – converting it to an atelier over seven weeks. He dressed Tom Cruise for the 1996 film Mission: Impossible. Cruise liked the suits so much that he kept them, and commissioned Everest to make him some more.
Everest became one of the "Cool Britannia" tailoring generation of the mid-1990s, identified by James Sherwood (author of Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke) as having begun with the publication of Vanity Fair's "Cool Britania" issue in 1997. Sensing a change in consumer attitudes, away from the more traditional styling of Savile Row, he sought to revitalise bespoke suiting, which he believed had been in danger of disappearing. With contemporaries Ozwald Boateng and Richard James, he launched the New Bespoke Movement, which brought a fashion designer approach to Savile Row craftsmanship. He launched the brand's first ready-to-wear collection in 1999. His long-standing association with Marks and Spencer began that year. He dressed Tom Cruise again, for his reprised role in the 2000 film Mission: Impossible II, and at the Oscars that year, when he also dressed Robin Williams and Burt Bacharach. By 2000, he had 3,500 bespoke clients. Everest joined DAKS Simpson as design consultant in May 2000. He was appointed to the board as Group Creative Director in 2002, leaving in 2003. One of the lines he designed for DAKS was an affordable suiting range aimed at teenagers, launched in August 2001; called DAKS E1, after the postal district of his atelier.