Friday, 7 March 2014

The Hour. Costumes ...

Welcome to my new obsession. The Hour, a mix of perfectly balanced 1950s glamour, old school espionage and deliciously British accents, features the birth of an investigative news program in the BBC of 1956, just at the verge of the Suez crisis and the Hungarian revolution, both brilliantly portrayed in the series. 
Starring Romola Garai, Dominic West and Ben Whishaw, all part of the journalistic team and supported by Anna Chancellor and Oona Chaplin, The Hour's brooding and detective-esque atmosphere (MI6 has a cameo...) will transport you seamlessly into Cold War Britain, its politics and the running of the media, especially for women. 

The Production Design, by Eve Stewart (The King's Speech) is taken care of to the last detail. All sets are authentic, down to the door handles. Of course, the costumes wouldn't be any less. Costume Designer Suzanne Cave talks about The Hour in a couple of interviews to GQ and ELLE. Here are some excerpts. 

ELLE: What inspired the costumes for The Hour?
Suzanne Cave: My initial research began by watching British Pathe newsreels and TV shows of the period. I then looked at photojournalism of the time, along with magazines and films of the day. I also referenced cultural figures from different eras: the effortless cool of Jack Kerouac and James Dean for Freddie, the androgynous chic of Katharine Hepburn and Susan Sontag for Lix, the classic elegance of Grace Kelly for Marnie.

ELLE: How did you create the looks?
SC: All the costumes for the principal characters were made from scratch. I used tailors and makers that specialize in 1950s cutting and the men's shirts were made by a well-known London shirt-maker. I sourced accessories (jewelry, bags, hats, etc.) from vintage markets, in particular, a London-based monthly fair where all the dealers meet under one roof. The costumes worn by the supporting cast and extras were hired from several London-based costume-hire companies.

The GQ Eye: The show takes place in the '50s, so what kind of stuff were you pulling from? Where did you start?
Suzanne Cave: Once we read the scripts, it basically became necessary to throw ourselves into that world. I started researching multiple sources like old news programs and such, since we weren't doing a documentary and weren't directly replicating these people, we had a little more flexibility and creative control. It started with the BBC team of that period, because that's what the show is about, but then we also got a little broader, started looking at things like French film noir, shady MI6 characters and the like...

GQ: Journalism in that period, there's a certain romanticism to it, isn't there?
Cave: It's kind of an interesting world, it was not a world I had followed particularly before, do you feel we encapsulated it correctly? [Laughs]

GQ: We like to think so; in fact, that's one of the things that really caught our eye initially, it had that mesh of the grittiness and the glamour. Was there a specific approach to dressing the male characters?

Cave: Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) for example, he's quite the kind of rebel and always looking to stir things up, always asking questions. One of my inspirations for him was Jack Kerouac, of all people. I started looking at the French New Wave scene and the beat poets and so forth. He often wore these great tweed suits and shirts and ties and such. Freddy doesn't have many clothes, and he doesn't really care about fashion, per se. His costumes were important to nail; he needed a strong look he could carry throughout. In all honesty, those clothes are flattering and quite cool on a man: the high-waisted trousers, tweed vests, and jackets. They make guys look great.

GQ: Was there something particularly fun or intriguing about this project as a whole?
Cave: Just getting into that world was rewarding. I've done period work before, but this particular setting was intriguing. Everything was so much more balanced than it is today, clothing-wise: what people wore, how they presented themselves. Of course, we enjoyed going to vintage fairs and finding interesting things, that's the fun part. When you actually get your hands on the actors, that's where it can go in different directions. On this show in particular, the three main leads were cast quite well, so we like to think it all came together nicely.

The Hour: Anything they can do...
Set in a 1950s newsroom, 'The Hour’ is the BBC’s latest attempt to challenge the supremacy of American TV drama. Benji Wilson gets the inside story. 
The Telegraph

Earlier this year, on the set of The Hour – the BBC’s glossy new drama about the beginnings of a crusading news programme in the Fifties – two words were guaranteed to get a rise. They were “Mad” and “Men”.
Some of the cast and crew seemed delighted even to be mentioned in the same breath as Matthew Weiner’s award-winning American series about the New York advertising industry; some found it a little daunting, hardly surprisingly, given that Mad Men is arguably the best television drama of the past five years and The Hour hadn’t yet finished filming.

Mad Men is about advertising (and what a nation’s advertising says about its culture). The Hour is about television (and what a nation’s television says about its culture). The first series of Mad Men was set in March 1960 but in everything from its style of dress to its atmosphere of casual misogyny it still felt like the Fifties. The Hour begins in 1956. And though Madison Avenue was a very different world from the BBC’s Lime Grove studios, both series have as a backdrop a country in the throes of profound cultural change – in the case of Mad Men, there’s Nixon, Kennedy and the burgeoning Civil Rights movement; in the case of The Hour, it’s the Suez crisis and the rise of a younger generation less inclined to doff its cap to the Establishment.

Read full article here


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