Friday, July 5, 2019

Costuming THE CROWN at Winterthur

Last month I went to Winterthur (for the first time no less, can you believe it?) and while Winterthur is of course worth many trips of its own, the reason for the visit was to see "Costuming THE CROWN"(open until January 5, 2020).
I'm a huge fan of the Netflix series so was really excited to see the costumes from this ground breaking 'tv' show.  I must have watched the first 2 seasons at least 3 times through.
I have to comment on the magic of tv.  The show looks so lush and luxe on the small screen (literally, as I often watch on my phone!) but in person everything looked fake and flat! However the details and thought put into the costumes were really incredible.
The exhibit walks one through the process of creating costumes for such well -known real life characters (some of whom are still living), where they documented exact costumes and where they had more freedom to create in the vein of the time period (50s-60s London).
I especially loved seeing the concept sketches with the actual final costumes, such as this one created for the Duchess of Windsor.
The notes on the side of the sketches give real incite into the characters- "NOT pearls" for Princess Margaret - costume design is so fascinating!
Emmy award winning Season 2, episode 2, of when the Kennedys visit London was probably the most fun for the costume designer. The elegant Parisian dress designed for Jackie vs. the rather dumpy gown of the queen says so much about their characters.
 No detail was overlooked, medals, orders, they're all there!
I don't have a picture but the padded bodysuit made for John Lithgow's amazing transformation into Winston Churchill was the highlight of the exhibit!
Queen Mary loved her jewels and her costumes were bedecked with paste which glitters so convincingly on screen yet is so flat and dull in person.
The wedding dresses of both Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were mostly faithful reproductions (adjustments to fit the actresses proportions as well as to make them more palatable to modern audiences) and the stark contrast just echoed the differences in character of the sisters.  Below the embellished gown of the Queen.
The 'embroidered' dress Princess Margaret wears when she plays queen for the day is actually painted onto the fabric, which I think is even more interesting and beautiful up close (although the creepy mannequin gives me nightmares). Read this fascinating interview about the costumes Princess Margaret wears with actress Vanessa Kirby HERE at Harpers Bazaar.
 The recreation of the famous red box was so fun to see too - wish they sold these in the gift shop!
Season 3 of The Crown will come out later this year and anticipation is building; Hurry up Netflix! The new cast who will play the older characters just proves how popular this series has become: gorgeous Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret (I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS). 
And the equally fabulous Olivia Colman will play the queen. She's not a natural choice to me but she's so fantastic I'm sure she will pull it off. I CANNOT WAIT! Sidenote: have you seen "The Favourite" for which Colman won an Oscar? While the movie is historically flawed it's an amazing performance and fascinating film.
As always images are my own with the exception of the last 2 stills from Netflix. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Robert Adam's Entrance Hall at Osterley House

After the Etruscan dressing room the Entrance Hall at Osterley House must be my favorite room in England.
The space is so good that in fact it was the only room to be directly COPIED on a sound stage for the filming of The Grass is Greener - in which it appears for only a matter of moments.  That's a lot of expense although perhaps it was used in scenes which hit the editing room floor?  I wonder what happened to the scenery after filming?
Above is Cary Grant on a brief walk through the house (actually sets on a London sound stage) with his butler before opening to the paying public in The Grass is Greener.
Although it was meant as the Entrance Hall today on a tour of the house it's actually one of the last rooms you see; although you catch a glimpse of it from the long gallery central doors (below) earlier in the tour.  Those are the 'front doors' of the house.
The Entrance Hall was completely redesigned by Robert Adam during the extensive renovations to the Tudor house by removing one portion of the block of the house, essentially creating a U shaped plan.  One enters up a grand exterior stair and through what was formerly a totally enclosed courtyard which makes for a truly impressive processional entrance. The wing of the house which was removed was replaced with a classical screen which acts as a covered porch. Even the ceiling of that outdoor space has elaborate plaster-work.  One only wishes the current tour took this same path rather than in through the family entrance past service spaces on the Ground floor.
The hall was used for more than just grand entrances though; the family would use the room for dining and overflow from the long gallery during the weekend parties and balls they would throw.
Every inch of this space and surface is designed to complement all aspects of the room. The floor reflects the ceiling, the wall panels encase armorial panels, and even the furniture was designed by Adam.
 The soft french grey and ivory white are excellent foils for the limestone floors and mantelpieces.
These lovely 3-branch oil-lamp sconces designed by Adam grace elaborate plaster brackets. These would make for fantastic electric uplights today!
 At either end of the room are apses which function as inglenooks without the built-in seating.
The flowers in the firebox are decidedly odd but don't distract from the perfection of every detail. 
 This limestone mantel would be stunning on a flat wall let along softly and impressively curved to fit the wall.
Imagine having to do the math to figure out the details of the curved ceiling - no 2 pieces are alike.
 Notice too the built-in window seats facing the courtyard.
 I think mahogany doors within painted trim are one of my favorite details in life.
The Greek key cornice, which normally would be one of the first things I'd notice, is almost lost amongst the exuberant plaster-work.
 Greek key too in the classical overdoor (and who doesn't love an enfilade?).
The small vestibules on either end of the entrance hall have the most beautiful groin vaulted ceilings perhaps I have ever seen. A shame more discreet smoke detectors could not be found! Perhaps it would be better more in alignment with the pattern?
Here I leave you with the recommendation to visit Osterley House & Park on your next visit to London!