To be perfectly honest, my initial impression was (and is, for each new outfit), "hmm, I see where they were going; I wonder if they know about [construction thing]? [Aspect] makes it very costumey." Overall I would like to see more winged cuffs and caps, but I'm very happy with the materials used, Annette Badland's tying-over-the-kerchief brown gown, and Claire's 1940s wardrobe.
One thing that is really bothering me, though, in this dialogue - and how wonderful is it that in this day and age, film designers, fans, and recreationists can now communicate with each other directly? - is the idea that discussing issues of dubious accuracy is insulting the designer or saying that the costumes are terrible because they're inaccurate. I can appreciate the handwork put into the wedding robe de cour, even while I believe that a robe à la française would have been a better choice of dress.
I feel very comfortable asserting that we all understand that television is not the same as a reenactment, that the number of garments that have to be turned out in a short time means machine-friendly methods have to be used, and that the people who get the final say on costuming decisions are mostly not people with any experience on the subject. Right? It's common sense, and I think we're all on the same page.
As I've previously discussed regarding The Great Gatsby and Pride & Prejudice, and as Lauren discussed regarding Outlander, there's a lot of room to talk about costumes that aren't 100% accurate in terms of their inspiration, what they're saying about the characters, and why the changes from the accurate were made. But you can be interested in all of these things and accept the prior paragraph, and still want to talk about what wasn't quite right. For one thing, it can be fun to test yourself on how much you know, what you pick up on - sometimes you notice things that you didn't realize you knew, just by analyzing what it is that's bothering you about an outfit. (This is how I tell if a museum garment is an antique reproduction or has been messed with. What's off? Why do I have a weird feeling? Ah, there's something wrong about the closure/the fabric/the trim.) For another, it's a way to vent and get over the annoyance.
|Claire likes a drink. And laced-on sleeves.|
Sidebar: I wasn't involved in this, but I've had the "decades of experience" card played on me in online discussions - and I just want to put out a plea to everyone everywhere to avoid this defense even when it seems totally appropriate to the situation. Either your data stands up to scrutiny because you have a good citation for it, or it does not. I could have spent five years researching 18th century French dress in detail, and still have a newcomer stumble across a primary source reference to something rarely mentioned that turns some of my statements upside down. Someone else could present a belief about Regency dress based on years of looking at fashion plates that my patterning would overturn.I'm concerned about the way this has been represented in the comments to Lauren's post - this isn't a case of reenactors being too picky about what appears on the screen and being hostile to a costumer because of it. The issue runs deeper than that, and it has to do in part with a widespread perception that reenactors/historians are unable to deal with anything less than 100% accuracy without being mean - which means that of course someone who self-defines that way will have a shallow opinion of film costuming ("it's not totally right, so I hate it") and has no business getting involved in a discussion about it.
Of course it's not practical for a costume designer to badmouth the higher-ups who nixed accuracy for a particular costume in order to make it cost less, pick up the light better on camera, stand out more, or look sexier. And I'd never say that professionals should kowtow to their audience and apologize for everything wrong in advance. But can't we have a middle road?
Let's treat each other as equals. Because costume designers are usually so far from us, it's been easy to imagine all kinds of motivations for them and put inaccuracies down to ignorance. So let's stop assuming that and try a little harder to see the positives and possibilities. I admit that I wasn't very good about it myself until I started reading Tom & Lorenzo's Mad Style posts, and then started applying the same type of analysis to Downton Abbey.
|The squared lower edge is straight out of Costume Close-Up; the seams and sleeves, not so much|
The costumes in Outlander are demonstrably not 100% accurate, even if we use a movie definition of "accurate" and not a progressive's. (Geillis's are especially odd.) Let's not gloss over the steps between the research and what appeared on the screen - there is a sizable group of people here who would love to talk about what had to be left out and why. Why do Claire's jackets have princess seams and (in one case) laced-on sleeves? Are any costumes repurposed and dressed up/down? Why do the petticoats have so many pleats?
|I don't understand. I don't understand the giant eye brooch either.|