Reality dating television shows have begun to come up with even more absurd premises to break into the saturated landscape. Not to complain: The Courtshipcharged as takeover from the Regency era the Bacheloretteis a dating show in Regency cosplay, and it’s wonderful as much as it sounds.
At the heart of the show is Nicole Rémy, “a modern girl tired of modern dating.” Her family – including her parents, sister and best friend – is also on the show as her “trusted court” advisor, choosing meetings for her.
Contestants must learn periodic dances, write calligraphy, and participate in Regency-era activities – and instead of a rose ceremony, at the end of each episode, Rémy dances with the men she considers sending them home, and they must make a case that convinces her to to stay.
The Courtship she works because of her stupid premise and charisma Nicole and her family, but also because everyone looks so good in every episode. So we had to talk to the man who made that cosplay: Tom Rogers, set designer and costume designer. Rogers chatted with City & State about all things The Courtshipmaking Regency-era clothing look flattering to modern men, and a reality show he’d love to work on next.
City and State: How You Got Involved The Courtship?
I have a strange resume: I have worked in both theater and television, I also do scenography and costumes. In the UK, I am a costume designer for Britain’s Got Talent. I’ve been a costume designer on it for about eight years.
In my theatrical work, I make a bunch of costumes from the period; I worked in opera all over Europe and America. The costume from the period is my happy place. But then, I obviously understand TV schedules, and especially entertainment programs, which are very different [than] making a TV drama — it’s really fast. There was no one who had that kind [background]. So they probably had no choice, they had me.
How much did you know about it The Courtship get into it? What was their attitude towards you
It was like Bridgeton meets bachelor, basically. I mean I love it Bridgeton, who doesn’t
When you hear Bridgeton meets bachelor, What references do you use to start thinking about costumes?
It’s the Regency period, so it really was the starting point. I like to call it our “riff” on Regency because it’s not a slave recreation of that period. We are not making a historical drama. From the very beginning of my conversations it was like finding a world that would in some way speak to that era, but it also gave us the flexibility to have a good time and be a little sexy.
Relentlessly the imperial line, after a while, you start to get saturated. There are 13 episodes, each covering two days, so we had a lot of dresses to consider – it was great that we could really push it. There are a lot [costumes] which are not even a stylish silhouette, but play with fabrics. Sometimes Nicole is dressed in a modern silhouette, but everyone around her is in the full realm of Regency [dresses]. So the challenge was to correct that balance.
How do you plan costumes for a reality show where you don’t know what’s going to happen?
We knew about the event. So we knew we were going to dress them up for a tea party, a ball or a boat ride, but you don’t know what’s going to happen and you have to let it take place in real time. So that’s an interesting thing. With me, when I look at it, I see breakdowns in the closet that other people probably don’t notice, but obviously we can’t keep coming in and fixing in real time.
We did lookbooks for episodes from the first to the fourth, and then we did more [outfits] every day. I had a team of six creators – brilliant, fearless, amazing people who were just starting out. [sewing] machines all day. And we had all the fabrics with us. Sometimes it was necessary without grooming. For a movie or TV drama this would be much more planned. But this is fun! It’s really fun. I love problem solving.
I like that you described it as a “riff” on Regency. How to strike a balance between visually warning viewers that this is not a modern dress, but also being careful not to feel too outdated for this young woman in a reality TV dating show?
If you are going to deconstruct something, you need to know it before you deconstruct. It’s like conceptual artists; most of them can do incredibly figurative painting, but they decide to move away from it. From my point of view, I know that there will be people who will criticize that this is not the correct period, and maybe we will assume that we did not know that period. But knowing the period really helps – I know the silhouettes and I know what will work well with modern things, so things don’t stand still.
It was a world where color palette and choice of fabrics were really important. For example, Nicole is in a relatively modern style dress, but the fabrics and textures she wears connect with the people around her who are in Regency style dresses in similar fabrics and color palettes, then it all connects like the world.
If you watch fantasy movies or fairy tale movies, they are never really set at a certain time. There are a few amazing ones where they just take from everything. There’s a later episode in which it’s a big scene with a masquerade ball, and she’s in a full 18th-century Met Gala dress — so it’s an earlier era, but I don’t feel it stands out terribly.
What types of pop culture references did you draw, besides Bridgerton?
Fairytale movies! As Sandy Powell’s design for Cinderella, I watched it a lot. There is a truly amazing Snow White movie with Julia Roberts, Mirrors mirrors, I just liked the costumes in that. And then Jane Austen’s other adaptations – especially recent ones Emmahas a few small Easter eggs [in the show].
How would you describe your aesthetics in detail and how did you bring it into the show?
Oh, that’s a good question! I love color. It was an interesting process for me, because I started designing the basic silhouettes of the dresses I wanted to work with – and it was universal because everything was made, even for ballroom dancers. Everything for the field, for men, for extras – everything is done. For the women’s dresses, I made some drawings and figured out what the silhouettes would be and with what different styles I would play for Nicole.
When you knew Nicole was in charge, did you change anything in her design?
We basically did [everything]. I mean, Nicole is amazing, they are the most wonderful family, each of them would look good in anything. We had a really good two days when I first met them, a week before filming started. We basically groomed ourselves; we tried everything that was made or half made.
Then we put on a yellow dress. The yellow dress, as soon as she put it on, we all just left, yes, that’s the one. Yellow just looks fantastic to her. There was nothing I did that we couldn’t take advantage of, because it looks great in everything.
When you were on set, what surprised you the most in that experience?
How comfortable they were in their clothes – how quickly they got comfortable in their clothes, especially men.
I realized I hadn’t asked about men at all! Can you explain to me what it was like to have all these contestants, and they are essentially in the same clothes?
The male silhouette is much lighter because it doesn’t really change, but it’s weird that it’s harder because male tailoring is hard.
Everything is done. Most of the contestants were from the United States and obviously my teams were everywhere [in the UK]. We worked based on the measures that they or their tailor took, so it was all quite challenging.
And they are also modern men who go to the gym; their bodies are not as made for these clothes. That kind of silhouette was not created for that. So flattering those bodies with huge shoulders and huge biceps was also a challenge – flattering them and also doing [Regency] silhouette.
If you had to choose another show to meet, which show would you choose?
I love medieval costumes: can someone please Game of Thrones crossed with The island of love?
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