2010 November 12
The Madness of King George III
This movie depicts the era of King George III, which encompasses the years 1738-1820. The costumes used in this movie are extremely detailed to the very last pearl drop. The depiction of the King and his madness, which is possible porphyria syndrome, shows his downward spiral and end. Throughout the movie the highlights are often in rare moments of true beauty. That would be in the wardrobe. Hollywood costumers made elaborate costumes that were worn with care by Helen Mirren, Nigel Hawthorne and other cast members.
Wig styles in the Georgian period included both men and women’s style. The accurate portrayal includes the Kings falling at his shoulder and gathered at the back and the Queen’s parted and poofed up in twin spires. These styles are early in the era but as time continues women would have wigs that went very high up including art pieces such as birdcages, ribbons and jewelry. The powder used is accurate in the movie as it gives a distinct gray color, not bright white. Wigs gradually gave way at the end of the period and a more natural look evolved to what we now recognize.
Clothing styles include rich brocade or velvet fabrics worn by the men. Reds, blues and dark hues were common in both coats and pants. The representation of George III and his fine garments are true to the time period. Women, as shown by Helen Mirren, wore muted colors but extravagant skirts. The actual top part of the woman’s dress is like an overcoat that is gathered to expose the under garments. Panniers were the large hoops used to give the distinct round, oval or even flattened look of the skirts. Corsets were worn by all women and used to create the look of a feminine bust. Exposing the bust area was not frowned on; it was relished, as it was part of the look to a woman. The movie shows this example and includes the use of a “fichu” or crumpled fabric placed into the bosom area during daytime. Trim work would include delicate flowers or darker pieces of fabric. Jewelry from this period is decorated using floral accents. While the Queen has extraordinary jewels, it is more common to find that only in royalty.
Stockings went over the knee and were made of silk. While the shoes are not often seen of woman in the movie, they would have been high heeled as well as buckled. Both men and women had embroidered hose. The nightdress that King George wears as he frolics is a period piece, however it should be noted that women’s peignoirs’ did not come into style until the Victorian Era.
From the detail of the weaved wigs to the strikingly bold colors of the King, it is obvious that the costumer on this movie was true to detail and made every effort to realistically portray each characteristic of the fabric, the design and the detail of each outfit. This time period piece is an example of how a movie can also be informative and accurate.