The visually sumptuous series The Crown has won several awards for its costumes, including an Emmy for costume designer Jane Petrie on Season 2.
While some accessories were sourced from collectors, almost all the outfits had to be made to order from scratch, and due to a fast-paced filming schedule, in as little time as possible.
Designers closely matched iconic outfits while adding extra touches for effect, but some pieces, such as the Queen’s wedding dress and all the replicas of the Crown jewels were painstakingly copied from the original items to be historically accurate. As filming of season 5 starts this month, take a look at how some of the most memorable clothes, jewelry and other accessories were created and sourced during the first 4 series.
Replicating the Crown Jewels
One of the most visually striking scenes of the show were those featuring some of the most iconic and well-known pieces of royal jewelry. These include the Crown Jewels, renowned not only for their grand opulence and beauty but also for the long and colorful history that they represent.
As well as faithfully replicating the crowns worn for the coronation and the annual State Opening of Parliament, other pieces such as iconic engagement rings, necklaces and tiaras had to be made for the show. To produce historically and visually accurate replicas, research involved studying period pictures and photographs as well as a rare book on the Crown Jewels that provides intricate details of the construction and materials used in each piece.
Inspiration for Period Outfits
As well as lead costume designers, a team of around 8 people were constantly making costumes during filming for the main cast to wear. For the chief designers, sourcing fabrics to match each era could be a challenge, but it is this attention to detail, from the feel and color of Diana’s dresses to the paisley print of Charles’ pocket square, that gives such authenticity to each scene.
While some outfits were replicated faithfully others were made from original by convincing designs that were drawn from inspiration found in period magazines, adverts and vintage patterns.
Recreating the Queen’s Wedding Dress
While many of the costumes for The Crown had to be made quickly on demand whilst filming was underway, the recreation of the Queen’s wedding dress took almost 8 weeks to complete.
As there were so many accessible photographs of the gown, it was felt that it must be made to look as true to the original as possible. This involved teams of embroiderers working for weeks on the floral motifs adorning the ivory silk bodice, skirt and train, followed by several fittings to make sure it looked just right.
Dressing Extras in Vintage Pieces
In addition to a Principal Team responsible for dressing the main cast, The Crown‘s Costume Supervisor oversees up to 300 background artists who work on preparing costumes for the extras in crowd scenes.
While it was harder for the costume department to find high quality vintage items for the main characters, they were able to use more original clothing for the supporting actors representing ordinary commoners on-screen. During large scenes, as many as 20 extra staff were needed to help extras get dressed on the morning of a shoot, and then clean and put away costumes at the end of the day.
As well as being visually appealing, the iconic period outfits and traditional costumes, adorned with extravagant jewelry, help to give a sense of authenticity to The Crown. From historically accurate Crown Jewels to iconic 50s dresses, every item of clothing is meticulously researched to match each iconic moment in the show.