Sunday, August 17, 2014

Outlandish Anachronism?

I'm loving the Outlander TV series so far. The pace is slow, as it should be, so that we get properly set up for plot and character developments down the road, and in Episode 1, which was made available online, I paused my computer to marvel at the tiny details of Frank's knitted slipover. I admired those little red crosses on the pale fingering-weight wool background! Beautifully designed and executed and so 1940s.
Therefore, I had high hopes for the knitted stuff in Episode 2. The 1940s-era knits came through for me again. More views of Frank's slipover, and also a lovely cabled one worn by Claire as Frank tells her about wartime interrogation techniques. But alas, something happened in the scenes set two hundred years earlier. It appeared that the knitted costume design had suddenly been thrust into the hands of a group of trendy young Ravelers. Instead of 18th-century hap shawls and kilt hose, we were treated to a weird chunky open "shawlette" on Letitia, a shawl/cape thing (is it felted?) on Geillis, a chunky, funky shrug!!! and loose, rather heavy fingerless mitts on Claire. I don't have the historical expertise of Kate Davies, but I have looked at many, many photos over the years of antique (especially Scandinavian) knits, and what I saw in Episode 2 seemed more appropriate to fantasy than history. It was imaginative and beautiful, but to me felt out of step with the time period Claire is stuck in.
Was this a deliberate design decision, meant to evoke an air of unreality? If so, it was sadly out of sync with the efforts elsewhere in costuming the series to achieve reasonable historical accuracy, and honestly, more than a little distracting. I'm still loving the series, but now it's mingled with a wee bit of disappointment in the knitting department.

1 comment:

  1. I like to see costuming done in a historically correct manner. It adds to the magic of being taken into the story. Unfortunately costuming is always impacted by current fashion. Doctor Zhivago showed Julie Christie in what was clearly 60's hair and makeup. The recent remake of The Great Gatsby used modern clothes and music. The first scene with Daisy used a laser cut fabric on a dress that looked right otherwise but that fabric distracted me from the storyline. On the other hand Marilyn Vance was criticized in the press for being too literal in her 2013 interpretation of Bonnie and Clyde. I suspect the costume designers walk a fine line trying to interpret the history and please modern audience aesthetics.

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