Re: Marion’s Dress

Marion Loxley (Cate Blanchett), Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), and director Ridley Scott in this behind-the-scenes picture from Robin Hood. Cate is wearing the blue dress I want to copy.

I’ve been debating as only a costumer can over what I want to make for my upcoming journey to Costume College. I had decided on my evening wear–I’ve got a lovely teal dupioni silk that I’ll be making into an Indian-style khameez–but I was baffled as to what to wear for the afternoon tea on Sunday. I considered a lot of different things, but when my eye fell on the above dress, I knew I had found my costume.

Honestly, what is not to like about this gown? It’s a solid-colored princess-style dress so it’s flattering to me, it’s relatively simple to make, and since I’m a brunette of a certain age, I think I can pull off the hairstyle as well.  In short, the dress should look as good on me as it does on Cate although, since I more closely resemble Samwise Gamgee than Galadriel, no one will be mistaking us for each other.

I’m not the only the one to be taken by this dress. Genevieve Valentine admires it greatly and suggests that the costumers took their inspiration from the Moy Dress, an extant textile recovered from an Irish peat bog in the 1930s. The Moy Dress is actually a very sophisticated piece of sewing, the main feature of which is the sleeves which are set way onto the back in order to increase ease of movement through the shoulders while at the same time fitting closely to the body. Women’s dresses at this time were designed to fit snugly in order to provide bust and back support. Genevieve is kind enough to provide a link to Matilda la Zouche’s blog where we can see pictures of Matilda’s re-creation of this historic dress.

Judging by what few photos have come out and from what I’ve been able to see in the trailers and featurettes, I think that Marian’s dress is much simpler than the Moy gown. In fact, I think it probably more likely resembles Sally Pointer’s Simple Medieval Dress.

One thing that concerned me was the lacing. However, I found the following websites very reassuring:

How to Do Eyelets Using a Whip Stitch (Medieval Tailor)

Eyelet Sewing and Spiral Lacing

Eyelets and Lacing

My progress to date: I’ve purchased the blue linen I want to use, washed and ironed it, and now have to start to work on the muslin.


Re: Men (and Women) of the Hood

“We’re men of the hood. Merry now at your expense.”–Russell Crowe, Robin Hood

Now that the movie Robin Hood is close to officially opening, a lot more still photos are available. The costumes for this production are truly beautiful and very detailed.  Although Janty Yates is the official costume designer for this movie, if you look under the credits, you will see a whole raft of costuming people listed which is not surprising considering the breadth and scope of this film.

Here are just a few stills to give you an idea of the beautiful costumes:

Lea Seydoux as Isabella of France, King John’s wife.

Lea Seydoux (Isabella) and Oscar Isaac (King John) in their bedchamber.

The kingdom may be financially insolvent, but King John (Oscar Isaac) is still a sharp-dressed man.

William Marshal (William Hurt) and Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eileen Atkins), the Queen Mother. Note William’s fabulous armor and Eleanor’s beautifully embroidered gloves.

Here’s a shot of Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) in action. Notice the awesome sleeve details. Although you can’t see it well in this photo, his vambrace is covered in Celtic designs.

Am I wrong in thinking that we’ll be seeing a lot of Robin Hood costumes this Halloween? Don’t think so. I haven’t left out Marion (Cate Blanchett), but I want to make her blue dress so I will discuss that in another post.

Re: Yoicks and Away!

“But really and for true, I am Robin Hood.” Daffy Duck as Robin Hood in the classic Looney Tunes cartoon, “Robin Hood Daffy”.

Admit it–you want to dress up like Robin Hood. Trust me, if Sherwood-mania hasn’t taken root now, it probably will by the time the Ridley Scott’s latest epic hits movie screens this May.

But what’s not to love about that famous outlaw of Sherwood? Indeed there are so many ways to dress like Robin that your main problem will be deciding on your approach.

Errol Flynn (center) as the title character in the 1938 film, “Robin Hood”.

If you want to be immediately recognized as Robin Hood, I recommend dressing in some variant of the following–the hat with a feather, bow and arrow, green tights or leggings, and a green tunic. That particular ensemble, immortalized by Errol Flynn, has come to symbolize Robin Hood in the public mind.

The film actually had some wonderful costumes in it (see a gallery of them by clicking here).  I thought the Sheriff of Nottingham’s was particularly striking, but Maid Marian also wears some lovely gowns in the picture.

Women go crazy for a sharp dressed man. That’s Basil Rathbone (standing), holding a fallen Errol Flynn at swordpoint.

Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian shows off her elegant gown.  “Medieval-style” accessories enjoyed a revival in the 1930s.

Enid Bennett as Maid Marian and Douglas Fairbanks as Robin Hood in the 1922 film of the same name.

Robin Hood and Little John’s classic quarterstaff fight on the bridge. Illustration from Howard Pyle’s “Robin Hood”.

You could re-create a vintage Robin Hood costume from one of the older films or from an illustration. The beauty of a vintage-style costume is that it gives a little extra punch to what has become a stereotypical “Robin Hood”-like outfit.

The Robin Hood legend has been animated several times so you could dress as Robin Hood Daffy or as Robin Hood the fox from the Disney version of the tale. A fox mask could substitute if you didn’t want to do a fur or styrofoam suit.

The number one reason why the men of Sherwood were always merry.

Of course, the “sexy Robin Hood” costume is never far away from any dress up occasion.  Unlike most other “come hither” character outfits, the sassy wench dressed in Lincoln green actually has historical precedent to recommend her.  In English pantomimes, in addition to the bloke-in-the-dress character, there was usually an attractive young woman dressed as a boy–often as Robin Hood incidentally.

Back in black. Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisbourne from the BBC television series, “Robin Hood”. Designer Tempest drew on race car driver/biker imagery to design his black leather outfit.

Unlike many modern Sherwood producers, the creators of the BBC series “Robin Hood” encouraged costume designer Frances Tempest (read an interview with her) to give a deliberate 21st century-tone to the character costumes. The reason: the producers were aiming for a teen audience and, at one point, hoped to develop a line of ready-to-wear clothing based on the series.

Speaking strictly from an audience point of view, the effect is mixed. Sometimes the clothes, while “mod”, seem believably period, but at other times they seem anachronistically out of place, particularly some of Marian’s second season outfits. Historically, using TV and film productions to influence fashion is not new and, in fact, dates back to at least the 1940s (if not earlier) when studios used to market actual patterns of the actors’ on-film clothes to home sewers.

Sean Connery as Robin and Audrey Hepburn as Marian in the 1976 film, “Robin and Marian”. If you are interested in doing a movie costume, the Connery/Hepburn duo would be a good choice for an older couple.

Russell Crowe as Robin Hood (due out May 2010).

Modern incarnations of Robin Hood on the big or small screen go in for grungy medieval realness. While that does wonders for the audience’s suspension of disbelief, it lends a certain sameness to the costumes. My advice here is that if you want to re-create “modern” Robin Hood costumes, you should look for the most distinctive outfit possible and try to copy that one.