Posted by Trish Milburn Jun 15 2010, 4:12 am in costume dramas, costumes, costuming, Trish Milburn
Most little girls love to play dress-up at some point during their youth, but they eventually grow out of it or at least exchange princess attire for name-brand style. And then there are those of us who still love the idea of playing dress-up or immersing ourselves in the world of costumes — clothing that takes us to a different place and time. If I had gone another career path and possessed the talent for it, I think I would have loved to be a costume designer for movies. That’s what inspired me to give my heroine that goal in my August young adult novel, Winter Longing.
My two favorite types of costumes are science fiction/fantasy and historical. I’ll leave the former for a later post Nancy and I will be doing post-Dragon*Con in September. Today, I want to explore my love affair with historical costume and costume dramas. I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, when the TV mini-series was a big deal — stories like The Thorn Birds, Shogun, North and South (the American Civil War version based on the John Jakes novel). One of the earliest such mini-series I remember being enthralled by was Marco Polo, which came out in 1982, when I was 11 or 12, depending on the month it aired. It had costumes but also started the trend of me watching a TV show or movie based on some historical event or person and then wanting to know much more about it. I remember being so interested in Marco Polo and his travels that I read books about him after watching the mini-series. I even wrote a paper for school about him. Believe it or not, I still have that paper.
The Thorn Birds began my fascination with Australia, Shogun brought feudal Japan into my rural Kentucky living room, and North and South was filled with glorious costumes from my own country’s worst days. Later came the classic Gone With the Wind, and Scarlett O’Hara and her many gorgeous dresses. Who could forget the white and green picnic dress? The red gown? The green dress made from the curtains?
When I first saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, love of a different era and costuming was born — that of ancient China. The Chinese films are simply gorgeous, full of eye-popping color. My favorite is House of Flying Daggers, which included some stunning costumes worn by Ziya Zhang, pictured here.
I know many of my fellow Banditas are great fans of Regency England. True, the dramas such as the newest Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen are filled with gorgeous costuming that can spawn many a story idea. But the era of English history that fascinates me most is that of the Tudors. Numerous dramas about the Tudors have been feasts for the eyes and have led me to read more about this period of history that I knew so little about before. Hey, I can now name Henry VIII’s six wives in order and what happened to them. (BTW, seriously, how odd is it that he had six wives and three were named Catherine? Confusing, much?) While once I would have had to go to the library to gather more information, now I watch an episode of The Tudors and then hop on the Internet to figure out the truth about people like Sir Thomas More, the Duke of Suffolk Charles Brandon and Henry’s various wives.
First, I saw the wonderful portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I by Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth. She is a fabulous actress and made this impressive queen come to life.
Then there was The Other Boleyn Girl, first the movie starring Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn, and then the book by Philippa Gregory on which it was based. I enjoyed that book so much that I now have four more of Gregory’s books on order. I plan to read The Constant Princess first, the story of Katherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife.
In recent weeks, I’ve been watching Showtime’s The Tudors on DVD and via streaming video on Netflix. While the series is full of historical inaccuracies, the costuming is wonderful. Scores of beautiful dresses such as this rich red number worn by Natalie Dormer, who played Anne Boleyn (hmm, does one have to be named Natalie to play that ill-fated queen?)…
and this regal black ensemble worn by the wonderful actress Maria Doyle Kennedy, who played Katherine of Aragon…
And I simply love this headdress worn by Joss Stone, who plays Anne of Cleaves, Henry’s fourth wife.
Are you a fan of costume dramas? If so, what are some of your favorites? If you were going to a costume party and could dress as any historical figure, who would it be?
Posted by Beth Andrews Oct 20 2007, 11:18 am in Beth Andrews, costumes, Halloween
by Beth Andrews
I’m supposed to be thinking about my Work-In-Progress, my next proposal for Harlequin Superromance. Unfortunately, my thoughts keep wandering away from my tortured hero. And where are my thoughts wandering to?
I love Halloween, not so much for the scare factor but for the FUN factor. I love the decorations, the treats and especially dressing up. When I was little, most kids’ costumes were plastic. Remember those? They were some sort of plastic cape-like thing complete with plastic mask. I believe I was even Barbie one year *g*
When my first child was born, I swore there would be no plastic costumes for him! His birthday is close to Halloween so when he turned one, we had a costume-themed party. I dressed him in the jester costume I’d spent hours behind my sewing machine making him.
He screamed. He cried. He HATED that costume.
But I was not to be deterred and the next year I made him the most adorable dinosaur costume. Again with the tears. When he was three I made him a scarecrow outfit. You can guess what happened. When he was four we went to the store and he bought a Power Rangers outfit complete with mask (I don’t think it was plastic). That kid wore that outfit just about everyday for the next six months. Lesson learned. Costumes don’t have to take enormous amounts of time or energy for kids to love them.
When my son was five and my daughter one and a half, I bought them matching blue sweat pants and sweatshirts, cut out a Superman S, sewed it on the shirt, made them each a red cape and voila! Superman and Supergirl! When my daughters were three and one, I raided my mother-in-law’s dress up box, dressed the older daughter in frilly pantaloons, topped it with a ruffled dress, slapped a bonnet on her head and had her carry a wooden crook. My younger daughter had fuzzy, white, one-piece pajamas. I stuck a tail on her, my friend made her ears out of a headband and felt and we had Mary and her Little Lamb
So while I might feel the pull of the sewing machine, I’ll resist and encourage my kids (the ones still young enough to trick or treat) to use their imaginations when deciding on their costumes. After all, we all know how a little imagination goes a long way
What was your favorite or most memorable costume? Did it take you hours or days to put together? Do you still dress-up? Attend costume parties?