Wolf Hall is one of the best things that has ever happened to TV. And, as much as it fascinates us with its wonderful writing, directing and acting, it also mesmerizes us with its visuals, lighting, set designs and particularly, in my case, the costumes! I am in awe of the fabrics and designs, but also the research the costume team did to create the most authentic dresses possible for the production.
I heard this wonderful interview with theWolf Hall costume designer Joanna Eatwell the other day where she shares her 30 years of experience in costume design and talks about her work in Wolf Hall.
Eatwell says she enjoys telling stories through costumes and she essentially immersed herself in the Tudor period to design the costumes for Wolf Hall. They did very detailed “original practice” in Wolf Hall that they basically built up the costumes exactly in the way they were made in that period… which means everything was made by hand and pinned or tied together! Apparently, buttons were very rarely used in Tudor times. Eatwell adds that because clothes were all pinned or tied, people used to change the sleeves, make different combinations and be creative with clothing.
Another interesting thing Eatwell tells is that because fabric was so expensive at the time, so was clothing… and, people did not leave money or furniture in their wills, but they left CLOTHES to their families. Can you imagine? And, another article from Evening Standard says “there was no shame in wearing a dress multiple times. Fabric was expensive. Once they were worn out, dresses were passed to servants or cut up and repurposed.”
Color was another story. The color you had gave a lot of information about your family and background. Black was the color of wealth, and so was Purple. And, Purple was also a color that could only be worn by the King and his immediate family, Blue could be worn by the nobles only. Clothes essentially dictated life and told a lot about the person wearing them.
Eatwell says that every period in history “fetishized” a particular body part when it came to clothing. The Tudor times were all about showing off broad chests and beautiful, narrow ankles — which you can definitely see in Henry VIII’s clothes!
Look at the beautiful designs Joanna Eatwell made for the King!
In Damian Lewis words: “So, [they] put me in these extraordinary clothes — he’s very much the peacock, always the most colorful man there.He’s always got a bit more fur than anyone else, his codpiece is a little bit longer.”
Costume design is obviously VERY HARD and brilliant work, and the tight schedule that the costume team had for the project makes the work even more incredible! They only had a few weeks to make the costumes, and were able to do only ONE fitting both with Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance.
Now… on to our little dress up game with Henry 🙂 You may recall from an earlier piece that Joanna Eatwell calls Henry “Our Leading Lady of Wolf Hall.”
So… do you think we can match Eatwell’s designs to the costumes Henry had on Wolf Hall? It’s not easy, but let’s play and have fun!
Let’s start from the top left.
1. I think the fur gives this one away 🙂 This is the one Henry wears at Anne’s coronation.
2. The fabric pattern on the workbook is a good hint… Ah, this is a glorious one! We saw Henry in this costume first when Cromwell and Henry had a real conversation for the first time in the gardens.
This one is a Henry favorite, it makes several appearances in Wolf Hall 🙂 And, remember what we said above, in Tudor times, even for the royals, there was no shame in wearing a dress multiple times!
3. I believe this is the one Henry is wearing when he arrives at Wolf Hall — Seymour Family Residence — with his entourage. The pattern in the front and the arms fits, doesn’t it?
4. I am not 100% sure on this, but we didn’t see Henry in any other nightshirt, did we? Remember the scene in which Henry tells Cromwell and Cranmer about his dream with his dead brother Arthur.. Henry knows whom to call. He always does 🙂
5. I cannot identify this one. Can you?
6. The hint is “House of Commons” on Eatwell’s hard-to decipher hand-written notes… So, this should be the one Henry had on during the open vote at HoC, and also at his little wedding ceremony to Anne — very elegant with the pearls on the chest.
7. Studying the sleeves and the red fabric as hints — ah, it is close to impossible to read the hand-written notes — could this be the red shirt Henry wears INSIDE the glorious costume he has on when visiting Canterbury. What do you think? See… it is not that easy 🙂
8. This is the black one with gold stripes that Henry had on when he gives that scarriest look to Anne… and just stands up and leaves the room.
These are just the ones we have seen in Eatwell’s workbook. I can identify at least six more… see below.
The one he had on when he practiced some archery.
The one he had on as when was dancing with a local notable’s wife while Anne was doing “diplomacy” with King Francois in Calais.
The one he had on as he and Anne were going over the “Succession” bill. I actually like this one a lot — are those Tudor roses on the chest and on the sleeves?
The bright gold one with buttons and stripes that Henry had on as he was showing off little Elizabeth and eyeing Jane 🙂 Absolutely my favorite Henry costume!
The one he had on as he was getting mad at Cromwell…
And… the one he had on as he was trying to make amends to Cromwell the following day…
OMG, what a sumptuous wardrobe! Yes, Henry is certainly the Leading Lady of Wolf Hall. I don’t think Anne has this many clothes.