Emmy Category Analysis: Period Costumes – Blog

by Claudio Alves

Where is Golden age with its cornucopia of clingy dresses, much of which is copied from fashion plates, museum pieces and period portraits? Where are Mr JackPrecise visions of romantic dress, queer aesthetics seen through a 19th century lens? Where are the comic stylizations of Our flag means death Where Julia‘s skills of a TV icon of yesteryear? Where is the love for Schmidadon!cavalcade of hot men in tight pants or Pachinkocultural boundaries rendered in a rainbow of beautiful textiles?

Although the period category for the 2022 Emmys is the strongest of the three costume lines (we’ve already discussed contemporary and fantasy fashion), many period-inspired possibilities have been overlooked in favor of repeat contenders and curious flop…

Given Emmy’s story, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel looks set to win a second time, while angelyne and The first lady are just happy to be there. Taking historical settings as a chance to indulge in deliberate anachronism, Great and Bridgerton might emerge victorious, but their scarcity of further recognition isn’t encouraging, even though the Hulu comedy scored two well-deserved nods.

Outstanding period costumes


  • Danny Glicker, Jessica Fasman and Adam Girardet for angelyneEpisode: “Glow In the Dark Queen of the Universe” (S01E03)
    • Description: Murals, hot seats, centerfolds, film roles, fresh eyes – huge, gigantic fame; the exposure leaves Angelyne exposed.
  • Sophie Canale, Dougie Hawkes, Sarah June Mills, Charlotte Armstrong, Sanaz Missaghian and Kevin Pratten-Stone for BridgertonEpisode: “Harmony” (S02E07)
    • Description: Scandalous rumors are circulating around the Bridgertons and the Sharmas. The Queen’s anger over Lady Whistledown puts Eloise and Penelope in a dilemma.
  • Sign Sejlund, Felicia Jarvis, Matthew Hemesath, Paula Truman, Stephen Oh and Jessica Trejos for The first ladyEpisode: “Cracked Pot” (S01E04)
    • Description: Eleanor discovers Franklin’s marital indiscretions, which motivates her to socialize with more independent and politically active women. A nagging injury prompts Betty to seek help from a doctor, who prescribes addictive painkillers. After little Sasha is hospitalized, Michelle vows to improve Chicago’s inadequate healthcare system.
  • Sharon Long, Viveene Campbell, Anna Cavaliere & Bobbie Edwards for GreatEpisode: “Seven Days” (S02E08)
    • Description: Elizabeth pronounces that Catherine’s baby will be born in five days; the court begins preparations and performs rituals for Peter and Catherine; the conflict with the Ottomans escalates and Catherine tries to rule the country during forced bed rest.
  • Donna Zakowska, Moria Sine Clinton, Ben Philipp, Ginnie Patton, Dan Hicks and Mikita Thompson for The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselEpisode: “Maisel vs. Lennon: The Cutting Contest” (S04E06)
    • Description: News of Midge’s act spreads, attracting a female audience to Wolford. Columnist L. Roy Dunham continues to trash Midge, leading to a revelation when they meet. The town’s established matchmakers warn Rose to stop encroaching on their business. Midge’s nemesis, Sophie, asks her for a favor.

Starting with the least likely to win, The first lady was canceled after a lackluster first season and scored only three Emmy nominations that year. While Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance makes the Showtime project worth watching, it’s hard to argue against the show’s overall fate. As for the costumes, it’s an appealing achievement that prioritizes historical accuracy over other concerns while finding character detail through faithful recreation. It’s a shrewd negotiation of narrative priorities, crucial for a program that attempts – and arguably fails – to juggle docudrama tenets with triple character study.

This triptych structure may make for a disjointed storyline, but it sets the stage for a varied showcase of historical costume. In the fourth submitted episode – a bizarre choice when the previous episode featured three wedding scenes and numerous other costume changes – designer Signe Sejlund must take Eleanor Roosevelt from 1918 to 1929, beginning with the cataclysm of marital strife and the discovery of past infidelities. The color story is not very complex, emphasizing Eleanor’s blue mood and reminding us of the wedding through the bride’s whites. Later, at a gathering of pro-gay suffragettes, the audience discovers an array of approaches to women’s fashion in the early 20th century, each more individualized by sharp style choices.

Betty Ford’s narrative is less forward-thinking, mostly set in the conservative sartorial milieu of wealthy suburbia with occasional flashbacks to youthful flirtations with a dancing career. The contrast between Martha Graham’s dance company minimalism and Ford’s housewife aesthetic is stark. Bursts of orange and the disheveled reveal of ruffled petticoats add to the effect. As for Michelle Obama’s scenes, they cut between domestic spaces and the hospital, ranging from comfortable pajamas to professional elegance. Everything feels authentic, stemming from extensive research into some of the most photographed women in recent history.

angelyne also jumps back and forth in time, but its story centers on the titular character and no one else. Still, it’s a lot of material to work with, especially as the series unfolds and unfolds before our eyes, fantasy and memory, further deepening the viewer’s understanding of Angelyne as a conscious creation and identity crisis. The third episode sees the start of this self-made celebrity in the 80s, while in 2017 an interviewer tries to find out who this strange woman really is. Oscar nominee Danny Glicker explores the limits of camp, the sweet ambrosia of tastelessness, the endless possibilities of pink as a lifestyle more than a color.

For both The first lady and angelyne, the costume teams faced the challenges of reproduction, copying exact looks from the annals of history and pop culture. Whereas The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel doesn’t go that far, it involves real-life characters, and the protagonist is partly inspired by Joan Rivers. Additionally, her sartorial approach is tightly focused on a faithful representation of the past, delineating a period of transition between the styles of the 1950s and the new decade of fashion. Everyone is impeccably dressed, every extra as perfectly dressed as the main actors, which makes the crowd scenes particularly delightful for costume lovers.

In the featured episode, we also get a good idea of ​​how costumes are an integral part of the show’s comedic strategy. While nothing really crosses the line of modernization, there’s a clear appeal to cartoonish excess and over-the-top tendencies. This is noticeable when one attends a meeting of authoritarian matchmakers, the heightened spectacle of a burlesque show, the absurd contrast of Midge’s Hepburn elegance and Sophie Lennon’s domination by ostentation. There’s also the opening to consider when a scruffy Lenny Bruce sticks out like a sore thumb amid Weissman’s magazine-ready domesticity.

Should these three nominees choose the path of historicism, the remaining pair would embody a stylized perspective where modern sensibilities dictate how bygone eras are materialized for the small screen. Ellen Mirojnick no longer directs the Bridgerton costume team, but the pastel prom aesthetic she developed for the first season remains consistent in the series’ second year. Everything from the textile choices to the fit and execution is nothing like the real thing, evoking a Regency England dream that never was. I find the whole thing a little garish and unbalanced, although I recognize that this is only a matter of taste rather than a sound criticism.

As in the first season, Adjoa Andoh’s Lady Danbury is the best-dressed character. The Bridgertons are a nightmare of subdued blues and creams, the Featheringtons are a headache-inducing storm of yellows. Queen Charlotte is a walking prochronism, still decked out in Georgian court fashion as everyone went beyond baskets and boneless stomachs. Sharmas are a new addition to the cast and tend toward purple, decadent satins that can sometimes look cheap, sometimes sultry. In the submitted episode, we even get a glimpse of reimagined Regency underwear, short stays transfigured into a structured bralette.

Great is also in its second season, although its wardrobe has had a bigger shine than Bridgerton‘s. One can feel how the design team found their footing after trial and error, going to extremes of fantasy while indulging in specific idiosyncrasies of Rococo fashion. Indeed, when it came time to choose a submission, there were plenty of great episodes to choose from, including chapters on coronations, weddings, and the world’s craziest baby shower. At the end of the day, Great went with one of two guest episodes featuring Gillian Anderson as Catherine’s flirtatious mother – an understandable decision.

Coming from Germany, she positions herself as the most avant-garde character in the series, carrying the widest baskets and taking up space like no one else. Its dark, perhaps disturbing color palette also highlights the presence of women, a tragic destiny. It is however not the only standard on the screen. Everyone dresses to impress Great, from Catherine’s maternity haute couture collection to Aunt Elizabeth’s eccentric penchant for masculine cuts and entomological details. The men are no less impressive, especially Nicholas Hoult’s Fallen Emperor, regularly decked out in furs worthy of a vicious predator.

Given Emmy’s story, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the safe bet for a second victory, while angelyne and The first lady are just happy to be there. Taking historical frames as a chance to indulge in deliberate anachronism, the showy work of Great Where Bridgerton might emerge victorious, but their scarcity of further recognition is not encouraging.

Will win: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Should Win: angelyne
Disclose: Great

What show are you rooting for?


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