Happy Nolan Day!

It’s another throwback episode this week, and we get to see a more casual office look for Nolan:


Admittedly, it’s a very safe look for him, but it definitely works. And there’s nowt wrong with that.

We also get to meet one of his colleagues, who is particularly special to him and who is also responsible for giving him a certain item that he was packing away a couple of weeks back. Can you guess what that might be?


Episode 8 (‘Lineage’) is on tonight at 9pm on E4.



Superhero Saturday: Misty Knight

Oh it's you, Misty, it's definitely you

Oh it’s you, Misty, it’s definitely you

Misty Knight is one of the lesser known Marvel comic book characters, but she is by no means less awesome.

While working as a police officer for the NYPD, Mercedes “Misty” Knight was seriously injured in a bomb attack and as a result she had to have her arm amputated. However, she got it replaced with a badass bionic one (designed by Stark International) that gave her superhuman strength and now she uses it to fight against the forces of eeeviiiiiilll!

Misty Knight was created in the 1970s by Tony Isabella and Arvell Jones. Since then she has appeared in a few X-Men comics and had major parts in comics such as Daughters of the Dragon (2005) (in which she appears with her friend and partner in crime-fighting, Colleen Wing) and Heroes for Hire (2006). And this year (a couple of weeks ago actually), she was in The Fearless Defenders with a new partner, Valkyrie. She even makes an appearance in the video game Marvel vs Capcom 3, but I won’t say in what capacity, as it’s a bit spoilery!

misty knoght 2

In my opinion there aren’t that many black female comic book characters around, so Misty Knight really stood out for me because of that, and because of her inner (as well as outer) strength and her iconic look – it’s eye-catching and not overly sexy, a very rare thing in comic books. I think she’s someone that you can look up to. Everyone needs a Misty Knight!

There are many successful superhero films around at the moment, and I would absolutely love to make a film about her in the future (the very distant future!). And if I could cast any actress in the world, it would probably be my one true girl crush, Sanaa Lathan, as she’s got a sort of ‘tough cookie’ look about her, which is what I think Misty Knight has. But one can dream!

2008 Sundance Film Festival - "A Raisin in the Sun" Portraits



‘Atonement’: How Important is Costume Design Fidelity from the Novel to the Film? (Part Two)

Yesterday, I contributed an article/post to Guise Magazine all about Atonement (2007) and the transfer of costume design from page descriptions (the novel by Ian McEwan) to the screen. As I mentioned in the text, it was sort of taken from my university dissertation (so I’m plagiarising myself – that’s totally allowed) and I had to cut a lot down. So, if anyone would like to read about other examples of costume changes I’ve included some more examples below:

Atonement (costume design by Jacqueline Durran) shows a combination of highly accurate costumes from the book, fairly accurate and then completely different. Each design was carefully considered in terms of story, character and location. Not just in terms of fidelity to the source material. In a featurette for the film, director Joe Wright stated ‘I was really trying to give people a cinematic version of the experience I had when reading the book’ and this seems to encompass every aspect of the book.

Cecilia’s first costume is important to the beginnings of the story, but her costume for the library scene is momentous. In the novel it is described before she wears it ‘her latest and best piece…was the figure-hugging dark green bias-cut backless evening gown with a halter neck’ (p.97); when she puts the dress on ‘as she pulled it on she approved of the firm caress of the bias-cut’ (p.98); but it is also remembered by Robbie when he is in France – highlighting the importance of the entire moment for him.

How could he forget that green dress, how it clung to the curve of her hips and hampered her running and showed the beauty of her shoulders. (p.264).

The costume worn by Keira Knightley is figure-hugging, dark green, bias-cut, backless and the only ways it differs from the description is that it does not have a halter neck or inhibit running due to the high centre split (put in to aid filming the library scene). Removing the halter neck allows for the thin straps (thin enough to look like a mere suggestion) to be easily cast aside; this act of ‘undressing’ could not have been carried out to the same cinematic suggestion with a halter neck. These changes were made for the sake of filming; every aspect needs to be suitable for a visual medium.

These shots don't show it, but the slit is right down the centre front of the skirt.

These shots don’t show it, but the slit is down from the ‘knot’ at the front of the skirt.

For such a crucial scene, one that shapes the rest of the story and, in turn, the film, the costume needed to be powerful. This replication does everything that a good costume should do – it aids the character, the story, the emotion and the director’s vision. The costume does not look out of place but rather perfectly in tone with the moment. Cecilia’s dress is overpowering because of the colour, the way the fabric flows and the length. She needs to own the moment in the library, the admission of love, the wait for Robbie and when the police take him away. The shade of green used obviously played an important part and Durran worked hard to create the perfect deep emerald green.

Within the film, Cecilia’s two early costumes are the most influential but I am going to take this moment to discuss Lola’s wedding dress. This moment was important in the acknowledgment of Paul Marshall’s guilt and of Lola’s unexpected compliance with it. ‘She was in white, the full traditional wear, and…was heavily veiled.’ (p.323). The description of a white wedding dress is not unusual but, within the context of the moment, the heavy veil and the traditional aspect of it are the important descriptions. Lola seems almost weighed down by the tradition but also empowered by the wealth that is associated with these two facts.

Lola's Wedding Dress

So far I’ve shown that when a costume is specifically described, the description is generally adhered to. However, many costumes are either generally referenced or left unmentioned. This leaves much more freedom for the director and the costume designer.

One costume that has a mild change from the novel’s description is that of Cecilia’s dressing gown outside her flat. ‘Feet wearing thick socks came into view, and a flash of bare skin, and a blue silk dressing gown’ (p.331). Cecilia appears barefoot wearing a blue striped cotton (to the naked eye) dressing gown. The bare feet are more keeping with Briony’s imagination of the situation; in that Cecilia has just got out of bed and thrown a dressing gown on to open the door. Changing the fabric from silk to cotton shows how far Cecilia has moved from her old life. The distance from her family means a distance from wealth, which is what silk would symbolise. Although the novel mentions that Briony recognizes the silk dressing gown, there is no way to show that within the film and so dressing Cecilia in a cheaper fabric, similar to that of the injured soldiers at the hospital, instantly shows the change in Cecilia.

Cecilia's Dressing Gown

In ‘Atonement’ (2001) Lola’s evening dress is described as a ‘blue satin sheath dress’ (p.116) but is a light pink loosely fitted dress. Wright stated in the commentary for Atonement ‘we knew we wanted it to be pink but it was a very difficult balance of it being childlike but also her attempting to be grown up’. This is clear to the audience as it seems as if Lola is trying too hard. Throughout the beginning of the film she tries to distance herself from the twins because she feels that she has to protect them from their parents divorce and living with their cousins. This colour is also very similar in tone to the first costume she wears, when again she is trying to be an adult. If Lola had worn the ‘blue satin sheath dress’ it would have looked too mature (especially on an actress older than the character she is playing), and would not have flowed cinematically when she was carried back into the house after her assault.

Lola's Evening Dress

When a book seems impossible to film it gains more attention and notoriety, whatever the outcome – just look at the reactions to Life of Pi (2012) and Cloud Atlas (2012). The costumes in Atonement are very accurate to the descriptions, with any changes made suitable for either the filmmaking process (the slit in Cecilia’s green dress), aiding the storytelling (Lola’s pink evening dress) or the overall look of the film (linking Paul Marshall and Lola’s costumes) [please see Guise Magazine for details about those costumes].

I am considering looking at a series of these kinds of posts (I’ve still got two films from my dissertation I can reference!) as film adaptations are not going anywhere. And as I’m re-reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ for our book club maybe that one would be especially interesting come the film’s release date.

S x

Red Carpet Watch: The Costume Designers Guild Awards

More award ceremonies, but this one is my favourite: the Costume Designers Guild Awards. A whole awards ceremony dedicated to the art of costume design. The awards look at all films, television shows and adverts with specific categories for contemporary costume design. The design side that gets nearly always overlooked at the other award ceremonies.

The winners of last night are:

Excellence in Contemporary Film

Jany Temime for Skyfall


Excellence in Period Film

Jacqueline Durran for Anna Karenina

(And don’t forget the Ham House exhibition is still on. I haven’t made it there yet sadly. I will!)

'Anna Karenina'

Excellence in Fantasy Film

Eiko Ishioka for Mirror Mirror

'Mirror Mirror'

Outstanding Contemporary Television Series

Molly Maginnis for Smash


Outstanding Period/Fantasy Television Series

Caroline McCall for Downton Abbey

(Just a quote I love from McCall: “One of the great things about working [in costume design] is working with hugely talented creative makers and milliners, so thank you to them as well”.)

'Downton Abbey'

Outstanding Made for Television Movie or Miniseries

Lou Erich for American Horror Story: Asylum

'American Horror Story: Asylum'

Excellence in Commercial Costume Design

Judianna Makovsky for Captain Morgan Black

Lacoste Spotlight Award

Anne Hathaway

Distinguished Collaborator Award

Lorne Michaels

Career Achievement in Film

Judianna Makovsky

Career Achievement in Television

Eduardo Castro

Distinguished Service Award

David Le Vey

And the red carpet of the evening:

Lily Collins wearing Paule Ka.

Lily Collins wearing Paule Ka. Collins wearing a bow as a reference to Mirror Mirror and the late costume designer Eiko Ishioka. I really like this dress – the structure of the bow, and in white fabric, is a great contrast with the clinging black dress. Beautiful.

Christa B. Allen wearing Rafael Cennamo Couture.

Christa B. Allen wearing Rafael Cennamo Couture. I don’t know how I feel about this dress. Half of me absolutely loves it, half thinks its too much. I love the silhouette of the dress but maybe it’s because there’s too much texture? If the bodice didn’t have embroidery maybe I’d like it more? Or if the skirt had a plain fabric. It really is a great shape though.

Ashley Madekwe wearing J.Mendel.

Ashley Madekwe wearing J.Mendel. I hate the shoes. Hate. Otherwise, I’m not sure. I really like the print and I guess mid-driffs on show is in this season…it just doesn’t seem ‘right’ at an awards ceremony though… On the other hand, the fabric is absolutely beautiful.

Kristen Wiig.

Kristen Wiig. A classic simple white dress – with some amazing shoulder pads to give some extra structure. There is nothing wrong with a simple look. The white nail varnish is definitely giving me 90s flashbacks though.

Anne Hathaway wearing Gucci.

Anne Hathaway wearing Gucci. This dress is really interesting. I think I like it. Even though it’s got a lot going on – the texture of the dress itself and the cut-out decorated neckline. But the 60s minidress feel is reflected in Hathaway’s make-up and I like that kind of detail.

Ginnifer Goodwin wearing Nonoo and Josh Dallas wearing Ermenegildo Zegna.

Ginnifer Goodwin wearing Nonoo and Josh Dallas wearing Ermenegildo Zegna. I really love Goodwin’s dress. And this surprises me. Yes, it’s red and I love red but I like the fit of it as well. The sheen of the fabric is really nice and even the sheer stripes at the bottom are pretty cool – they work because the rest of the dress is so covered up. And I love Dallas’ suit. It’s midnight blue, three-piece, he’s got a pocket square and a bow tie. Well done sir.

Maya Rudolph.

Maya Rudolph. I know Rudolph’s pregnant and dressing for events like this is difficult (I guess, having no personal experience). She definitely looks better than some of Kate Hudson’s pregnancy outfits but the pattern is just too much. There is a lot to the dress and there’s a lot to the pattern. I think if the dress was plain or if the pattern was on a specific part or something then it would’ve looked better. The asymmetrical neckline and sleeve is interesting though.

Amy Poehler wearing Prada.

Amy Poehler wearing Prada. I wasn’t sure about this dress at first but I’ve decided that I’m a fan. It’s the shoulders/cape thing that won me over. It’s so unusual that it just raises the rest of the dress. And I love her earrings and shoes.

Madeleine Crowe.

Madeleine Crowe. This bodice is a little bit too underwear-y for my liking. But it is sort of evened out with the long black skirt. The skirt section I like. The bodice? Not so much. She’s looked better as Victoria Grayson.

Famke Janssen.

Famke Janssen. This is a beautiful dress. The colour, the construction, the flare at the front to disguise a sexy slit. All incredible.

Ashley Madekwe and Gabriel Mann.

Ashley Madekwe and Gabriel Mann. Mann can pull off a double-breasted suit just like Nolan. (Hannah – has he worn a double-breasted suit in Revenge? I feel certain that he must have!) Great colour, a nice blue shirt (even if the white collar does make me think of Wall Street a little bit…), a pocket square and a stripy tie. I approve. And I generally don’t like double-breasted suits. (And don’t forget to catch up with Happy Nolan Day!)

S x

He Could Get It… James McAvoy

James Mac is the best Scottish import since Irn Bru: Discuss.

James Mac is the best Scottish import since Irn Bru: Discuss.

WHY? First and foremost his accent could grate cheese. It’s glorious. Secondly, while he’s not the tallest of actors, he is perfectly formed from top to toe. Right to the teeth. Thirdly, he is currently crushing it in the West End as Macbeth; he wears long johns in it. Go for that if nothing else. And fourthly – just where did he get those blue eyes?


Happy Nolan Day!

It’s just another swagged out day at the office for Nolan this week, and he’s looking rather bonny in blue:



He doesn’t look too happy, though. I wonder what the beef is? And with who?

And just when you thought he wasn’t wearing enough blue, he’s decided to add a little something extra…


Oh yeah. Baby blue kicks. Nicely done, Nolan.

Episode 7 (‘Exposure’/’Penance’ – not sure which this week!) is on tonight at 9pm on E4.


5 Important Red Dresses

In case it missed anyone’s attention, I love red. Particularly red lipstick, red nail varnish and red dresses. I’m not the only one. Red is a colour used in film for important reasons – not just for blood. Think about The Red Shoes (1948); the little girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List (1993); Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz (1939); Robert de Niro’s red suit in The King of Comedy (1983); the “child” in the red patent duffel coat in Don’t Look Now (1973). The use of red has even entered the zeitgeist – think of the ‘red shirt’ characters taken from Star Trek. This term has been used for years now and will remain in pop culture. Red somehow becomes more iconic when used for a dress. In the best instance, these dresses are worn at a vital moment in the plot and character arc to make a specific point. Here are five of the best examples of a red dress used for a specific purpose. They have been arranged in chronological order of the film’s release date. Funny Face (1953) Director: Stanley Donen Costume Designer: Edith Head with Audrey Hepburn’s costumes designed by Hubert de Givenchy Time Period: 1950s Audrey Hepburn in 'Funny Face' Audrey Hepburn in 'Funny Face' The first red dress I want to mention is the Givenchy gown Audrey Hepburn (as Jo Stockton) wears for one of her photoshoots with Fred Astaire (as Dick Avery). It is one of Hepburn’s most famous costumes – after the Givenchy black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) of course. By this point in the plot the two characters have spent a lot of time together and developed feelings for each other. The photoshoots work up to this red dress and the next location shoot has Hepburn wearing a wedding dress – just as they do in a fashion show. Stockton’s journey to the red dress has taken her far away from her original costume of black, which she returns to later before ending the film in another wedding dress. As the photoshoots develop, Stockton becomes more and more confident and comfortable with herself. The photo taken expresses her enthusiasm and inner strength. West Side Story (1961) Director: Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff Time Period: 1950s Natalie Wood in 'West Side Story' Through my super brief research into red dresses worn in films I didn’t come across Natalie Wood’s dress at the end of West Side Story. I always think of the dress because it shows the extent of Maria’s character arc. When Maria and Tony (Richard Beymer) first meet she is wearing a white dress with a red belt at the waist. In Maria’s first scene with Anita (Rita Moreno) she begs for the dress to be lowered at the neckline or dyed red. The final scene with Maria, and Maria’s final moment with Tony, has her in a red dress. The dress itself is very simple and has the same general shape as that of the white dress. A lot of the costumes worn by the female Jets have more of a fitted 50s silhouette, whereas the Sharks have wider skirts. This is a generalisation but helps to quickly differentiate between the two gangs and this style is particularly relevant to Maria. The growing tensions between the two gangs has been leading up to the final moment and Maria has strength from her dress. The first shot of it can reference the love between her and Tony and even foreshadow Tony’s death (about a minute later) but the dress really gains importance following Tony’s death. Maria (unlike Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’) survives and uses her survival and Tony’s death to bring about a truce between the gangs. Maria is no longer the same girl who wore a white dress to a dance. Pretty Woman (1990) Director: Garry Marshall Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance Time Period: 1990s Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in 'Pretty Woman' Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in 'Pretty Woman' I’m not a huge fan of Pretty Woman but it has another example of the red dress – in one of the most famous scenes from the film. The ‘hooker with a heart of gold’ storyline may not be highly original (a better version of that is Irma La Douce (1963) if you ask me, but I’m a sucker for Billy Wilder and Jack Lemmon) but you can’t argue with some great costumes in the film. The most recognized of Julia Robert’s costumes as Vivian range from her first costume when…soliciting, the keyhole dress with the thigh-high patent boots; the brown polka dot dress at the races, when she is propositioned by one of Edward’s (Richard Gere) friends; and the red dress worn at the opera. The changes that Vivian’s been making since meeting Edward culminate in this. A full-on ladylike appearance for an opera. Is there another more drastic change from Vivian’s introduction. She may never be dressed as elegantly as this again but she feels happy, confident and loved in that dress. Moulin Rouge! (2001) Director: Baz Luhrmann Costume Designers: Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie Time Period: 1900s Nicole Kidman in 'Moulin Rouge!' Nicole Kidman in 'Moulin Rouge!' Nicole Kidman in 'Moulin Rouge!' The red dress worn by Nicole Kidman (as Satine) is interesting as it makes its appearance early on but in two different scenes. The first time we see it, Satine is being severely laced into it ready to seduce the Duke as the “smouldering temptress” – a perfect use of a red dress. Red dresses are said to imply sexual desire and this is definitely the impression Satine wants to give off. Although, as a courtesan it isn’t really necessary. The next we see of the dress it is being flung off for her to “change” into her black corset, stockings and lace negligee. But before we lose the dress completely she dresses back into it to sing ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’. After meeting Christian (Ewan McGregor) she wants to change her life. Her dream of being the next Sarah Bernhardt isn’t good enough anymore; she wants love. The dress has altered from being a dress for sexual allure to a dress symbolising love. This is what she wears when she and Christian kiss for the first time and begin their affair. Although Satine is seen wearing extravagant costumes throughout the film (who in the Moulin Rouge isn’t), she never again wears red. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Director: Joe Johnston Costume Designer: Anna B. Sheppard Time Period: 1940s Hayley Atwell in 'Captain America: The First Avenger' Hayley Atwell in 'Captain America: The First Avenger' Hayley Atwell in 'Captain America: The First Avenger' So, yes, this is one of my favourite costumes anyway but it’s also a good example of the red dress importance. This is the only costume that Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) wears that isn’t for the military. We see her in varying suits for training, for meetings, for combat but never when she’s ‘off-duty’. This is it. This the dress she wears to walk through an English pub filled with soldiers to speak to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). Confidence is needed for a woman to walk solo through those surroundings, let alone wearing a red dress. We know that Peggy is a strong woman from the fact that she is a high-ranking Agent and had responsibility for training some of the new soldiers but this appearance is a risk. She has risen through the ranks of a very masculine world and the danger of being seen as a mere sex object is ever present. Peggy doesn’t care. She has enough strength to pull it off and still be respected – this is about getting Rogers’ attention after all. She wants him to see her in a different light. But what’s wrong with that? It doesn’t make her any less of a powerful capable woman. So those are five important red dresses. I may have left out some of the more famous dresses and maybe I’ll look at those another time but for the moment I wanted to look at those specific five. None of the dresses are the same. They encapsulate different time periods, different styles, different characters, different costume designers, different films and different purposes. Perfectly constructed costume design. And perfect for the character arc of their wearer. S x