Channeling History

Couturiers and the clothes they create

For costume designers, TV minis and movies are a major undertaking, especially when it comes to period dramas. This year’s crop of Emmy-nominated couturiers created clothes that detail everything from the fantasy of Arthurian legend to modern lines of the 1950s.

The Mists of Avalon

Carlo Pogioli

Pogoli illustrated the time period of TNT’s “The Mists of Avalon” with natural, handmade fabrics that were dyed in a different color scheme for each character. Pogioli and his team, which included 50 seamstresses in Prague, several from England, an Italian crew, 15 more people crafting jewelry and 20 creating armor, fashioned approximately 4,000 costumes for the mini. “When you do this kind of movie, you do the same costume in double and triple,” he says, because a costume will need to be seen in different stages of action. As with most costume design, only 60% of what was created appeared in the finished film.

Feast of All Saints

Van Broughton Ramsey

Showtime’s Anne Rice mini “Feast of All Saints” spanned three time periods in the 1800s. To conjure costumes for New Orleans’ wealthiest classes in 1804, 1820 and 1840, designer Ramsey went to the city to research what they wore and replicated everything down to the corsets, shoes and parasols. “It was like doing three projects at once,” he says. “For example, the hoops (in skirts) changed in each period.” One of the most difficult aspects of creating the clothes for the mini was finding the right fabrics and enough of them in time, like fine tissue tafetas in period patterns. But, Ramsey says, the most important part of creating the costumes is getting an exact fit on an actor: “If you don’t get the right fit, the beautiful work you’ve done won’t look good.”

James Dean

Yvonne Blake

Research and preparation for TNT’s “James Dean” included a bevy of materials from docus, films and videos to photos, books and first-hand accounts from people who worked with Dean. Blake also enlisted the help of director Mark Rydell, who knew Dean and his longtime girlfriend Christine White. Blake’s biggest challenges were re-creating scenes from Dean’s movies as well as what was happening on set. “You’re showing a little bit of what was in front of the camera, but everything behind. You see the crew and directors and finding out how they looked. It’s hard to reproduce things that everybody knows,” she says, adding that it’s the details that count, including jewelry and watches.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Breaking Bad

    'Breaking Bad' Movie Release Date, Title and Plot Revealed

    The “Breaking Bad” movie is coming to Netflix sooner than you might think. The film, titled “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” is now set to be released on Netflix on Oct. 11, according to a report from the New York Times, with Aaron Paul returning as the series’ popular meth cook Jesse Pinkman. Jesse [...]

  • Laurence FishburneNational Memorial Day Concert Dress

    Laurence Fishburne to Produce 'Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur' Series for Disney Channel

    Laurence Fishburne is stepping into the animation game. The “Matrix” star is set to executive produce “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” an animated series which has been given the greenlight at Disney Channel. Based on Marvel’s comic book series, the show hails from from Disney Television Animation and follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • 'The Simpsons' Producers on Disney, Spinoffs

    'The Simpsons' Producers Talk Potential Disney Spinoffs, Confirm Apu Will Remain

    “The Simpsons” has never shied away from lampooning Disney over the years, but maybe that’s no longer the case. Homer, Marge and co. are of course now part of the Disney family and made their first appearance at the Mouse House’s D23 Expo convention, where the show’s producers were asked plenty of questions about what [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content