‘The Crown’ Provides Many Challenges For Costume & Wardrobe Staff

The Netflix series spans decades, and so costuming needs are always changing

Claire Foy
Netflix

The Netflix series spans decades, and so costuming needs are always changing

Some people think that costuming is like its own character on the Netflix series The Crown. This is because the clothing and accessories are such a big part of what makes the audience believe that an actor in 2018 could be Queen Elizabeth in the ’60s. But those dressing the cast of The Crown are not done with their jobs when they design the clothing that each character will wear because they are also responsible for problem-solving when something doesn’t look quite right on camera.

E! Online says that most of these challenges fall to Michele Clapton and Jane Petrie, costume designers for The Crown. In many situations, it’s not just about matching the time period, but also replicating outfits that have appeared in photographs because the characters are real people.

Petrie explained that one costuming emergency came in the episode which included President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, who was at one point the most photographed woman in the world.

“When [Jackie] went onto set in this dress in the morning, I thought, ‘Oh god, she’s arriving, she needs another layer,’ and we hadn’t made it. I just missed it. I don’t think there’s even any excuse. And it was Sunday so there was no cutter working, and it was just us. I had to get a driver to drive me up to the studio and cut that…I made it in my lunch break, went back to set, dropped it on her, and then it’s been the bloody [piece] that’s ended up in exhibitions. I keep saying, ‘You can’t use that cape, it’s terrible.'”

One of the biggest challenges to date for the costumers has been recreating at that time Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. Michele Clapton said they knew in advance that this was not a garment that was going to be able to be made on the fly, and it would take a lot of planning before the sewing could start.

“It took approximately six to eight weeks for us to re-create the dress, with a team of six embroiderers working on the train throughout this time. Another team worked on the dress skirts, and my key embroiderer worked on the neckline. We had a cutter and two makers, and it required a number of fittings.”

Clapton says that they needed to call in students and embroiderers just to get the train done in six weeks.

The women thought they had dodged a serious bullet when the actual gown that Queen Elizabeth wore for her coronation was offered to them for the show. While they obviously couldn’t alter the gown to fit star Claire Foy, they were able to just pull a quick switch with her shoes to make it all work.

“We tried it and actually it was a little bit too long, but we put [Foy] in high shoes and it was amazing.”

In almost every awards show since The Crown started streaming, Clapton and Petrie have taken home a number of statues, and with several seasons ahead, there seems to be no end in sight.