When Jackie Kennedy first visited Buckingham Palace during her European tour of 1961, she was reportedly so unimpressed by the castle’s furnishings and Queen Elizabeth II’s appearance that she icily remarked during dinner that the Queen was, “a middle-aged woman so incurious, unintelligent, and unremarkable that Britain’s new reduced place in the world was not a surprise but an inevitability.” As depicted in the second season of The Crown, the Queen and the First Lady, played by Claire Foy and Jodi Balfour respectively, were starkly contrasted not only in their public personas, but also in their clothing. Kennedy, who was quickly becoming a stateside style icon, wore a sleek blue silk Chez Ninon gown, while Elizabeth looked comparatively old-fashioned in a voluminous A-line tulle dress.
For the costumes, designer Jane Petrie (who earned an Emmy nomination for her work in the aforementioned episode “Dear Mrs. Kennedy”) took liberties with the historical accuracy of the dresses. Instead of donning Balfour in a boat-neck style gown like the one Kennedy actually wore for the dinner, Petrie created a periwinkle strapless dress that Balfour paired with elegant white gloves, customizing the clothes for the actresses and not the women they portrayed.
Ahead of the Emmys on September 18th, CR caught up with Petrie, who revealed the most memorable costume moments from the second season and her favorite character to design for.
Congratulations on your nomination! What was that moment like for you?
“It feels quite crazy because the Emmys are something that we grew up hearing about and something very remote. It’s like almost when you’re little and you dream about New York and you can’t imagine you’d ever go there when you’re from Scotland. The Emmys are a similar thing. It’s really brilliant but crazy at the same time because it’s another world to me.”
Tell me about that pivotal moment between Jackie and Elizabeth.
“I pared down Balfour’s dress as much as possible to reflect its simplicity and to contrast with the business and fussiness of Elizabeth’s dress. The first time you see Elizabeth’s dress, it’s through a sketch and on this willowy model. Foy is very petite so we had her quite padded down to be Elizabeth, thickened her waist a bit, and gave her a bigger bust. And so you have the different stages of the dress and when she first arrives, it’s sort of comical compared to Jackie’s dress.”
How do you distinguish between Elizabeth as the monarch and Elizabeth at home?
“At heart, the queen is a country girl and she’s at her most comfortable probably in country clothes like riding jodhpurs and a cardigan. All of the clothes that she would wear if she was meeting prime ministers or doing any public events, she sees it as a uniform for herself. I’ve heard from people who have worked in the palace and dressmakers who have worked for the queen that actually they work in a very similar way to us. I’m trying to design with realism in mind and I never really want to anything theatrical, however, what the palace did is they find out where she’s going to be, what she’s going to be standing in front of, and they want her to be seen by as many people as possible. Her hats are designed to not cover her face and you’ll still see her if she’s deep in a crowd. It’s all about serving the best for the public and the event.”
How much of the clothing was vintage for the show?
“For Margaret and Elizabeth, I bought the original accessories, true-to-the-period, because I don’t think you can copy them very well. I did vintage accessories and if I used a pattern, like a vintage coat, I tried to keep it as authentic as possible.”
You’re currently working on The King (a Netflix film coming out in 2019). Have you always wanted to do historical and period pieces?
“I first went to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London when I was 10 years old with my mother and saw the historical costume collection and was completely blown away by it. That triggered a lifelong interest in historical clothing and I kept that interest for long time but it wasn’t really in my world or something I thought I could do for a living. I grew up not really knowing what I wanted to do other than go to art school and a passion for historical clothing, English, and history, and it’s all come together with this job.”
What about designing for Margaret, who has more freedom in her clothing choices than the Queen?
“Because of the Vanessa Kirby’s figure, it’s very different. She’s five foot ten and the real Princess Margaret was five foot two. Vanessa has an incredible figure and presence so I exaggerated that by pushing the distance between the sisters. They were very accurate clothes to the period and I wanted to show that she was feeling a bit of Soho night life when she meets Tony and that swinging London is happening even though it’s not arriving in Elizabeth’s world inside the palace.”
Do you have a favorite character to design for?
“Some of the costumes that we don’t really talk about very much that I had really a lot of fun with were the Queen Mother. I think her hats are hilarious because they’re really accurate. They just got bigger and bigger but nobody’s ever really mentioned her clothing and we had an absolute hoot doing her stuff. And Wallace Simpson, I loved doing her costumes for the Under the Sea Ball. I always thought the Queen Mother and Wallace were strong visual statements, but everybody’s gone for Margaret. I think, ‘Oh okay, nobody really noticed the Queen Mother’s massive hat.’
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createdAt:Wed, 15 Aug 2018 17:48:02 +0000
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