Lovers and Liars : A David Garrick Double Bill
Developments in costume design came on leaps and bounds last week after a very successful trip to the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Unlike the other costume hire departments that I have recently visited, West Yorkshire Playhouse is extremely well organised and spacious – with colour coding, clear price lists, labelled boxes, my own collectors rail and mysterious bins of hats, shoes and braces. Alongside the 30% student discount, my OCD and I had a very enjoyable time sourcing enough items to clothe 6 of the 9 characters, with some additional accessories thrown in too.
My influences and inspirations for this project have ranged from the fantastically beautiful and award winning costume design in the 2012 motion picture Anna Karenina, to the more mundane and less fantastically beautiful costume design in the 2012 motion picture Miss in Her Teens. Typically, our budget significantly restricts the potential of our designs, so I have found myself continually weighing up a happy medium between quality and expense by thinking of creative ways to boost the authenticity of our 18thcentury dress.
I have been using John Peacock’s Costume 1066-1990s as a strong visual reference. As the book is primarily made up of illustrations, it has been very useful to directly compare the pages on ‘1727 fashion’ to the individual items that I select to create a full outfit. When composing my initial costume designs, I found myself thinking of each character by their colour scheme – what different colours say about each personality and how that may influence the way they dress. For example, the character of Captain Loveit, as the loyal and gallant heartthrob of the play, instantly delineates patriotic colours in reference to his commitment to the military and Biddy alike. A red waistcoat represents his former ensign ranking, a blue jacket represents the wealth of his family and white breaches represents the consequential purity and happiness in his relationship with Biddy. As a result, my method of sourcing has begun by approaching a particular colour on the rail which altogether seems to have sped up the process for me. There are a lot of pieces of clothing to sift through in these costume departments so it is useful to know where to begin!
Below is my final design of Fribble alongside a photo of our actor Sean in full costume (with the exception of shoes) as sourced at York Theatre Royal. Fribble’s costume is influenced by 18th Century French fashion. France led the fashion movements by setting a high standard of quality and decadence at the time. As you can see the jacket I have found matches entirely with my design idea – fortunately this began by thinking of the right colours!