Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

Sleepy Hollow: Ask the Costume Department, Round 2


Hey there, Sleepyheads, Frocktalkers and friends!  I guess the timing of this column just proves that I am unable to keep a deadline when I am working.  What was supposed to be an “every Monday” feature is now destined to become a “once in a while when I have a moment” feature, so thank you for your patience while I find some quiet time to answer your questions.  Remember, you can post them any time on Twitter, using hashtag #shcostumes.  Here is the latest installment:


The greatest challenge so far has not been an actor, character or a costume, but rather the schedule.  We have such a great team on this show, and with enough time, we can do just about anything!  In television (unlike film), it is a seat-of-the-pants journey, and sometimes we have to design and construct costumes in a matter of hours before they work.  This has been our greatest challenge thus far.  We are all perfectionists in this department, and we want it to look right.  It’s challenging to do that when we’re under the gun, and especially when we’re away from the resources that make it easier for us (LA’s fabric district, costume rental houses, etc).


You may notice some interesting transitioning happening in Abbie’s look as she arcs throughout the series and grows as a person in the context of the story.  We are sticking with a very specific color palette on this show, and it is important for us, artistically, to make sure everything is harmonious.  Can you imagine if Abbie wore lilac and bright orange?  Yikes!  As far as the line of her costumes go, you may remember that she started the series in uniform, and has transitioned into, let’s say, more familiar shapes! Keep your eyes open for more transitions.


The height disparity is real.  Tom is about 6’ 1”, with a little bit more height added by his boots.  Nicole is quite petite, but we put her in heels to make up for at least a bit of the difference.  It is impractical on a show like this to always have her standing on an apple box to level them out, so we do what we can.  The camera department is pretty brilliant in the way that they design their shots to accommodate the vertical difference – keep in mind that Orlando Jones (Irving) is also quite tall – and we all collaborate to make sure that it all works.


Yes, fashion tips for shorties.  As I am a costume designer, my focus is on character and telling the story FIRST, but as I work with clothing all day long, I might be able to help.  The key to dressing petite bodies is to make sure that the clothing is properly proportioned.  As a petite woman (47% of American women are considered petite at under 5’ 4”), you should seek out clothing made for the petite shape.  This is fine and great if you want to look like a generic Ann Taylor/Liz Claiborne drone (which can sometimes be very effective as a costume).  However, if you desire a bit more personal style, you are going to need a good tailor to alter the clothing you find.  A good tailor can make ANYTHING work on a petite figure.  Here at Sleepy Hollow, we are so lucky (and really I don’t know how we got so lucky) to have master tailor Darek Beeman working with us.  He snips and darts and tucks until everything fits exactly the way it is supposed to on a petite frame.  That is the key.


Katrina’s purgatory dress is something that was designed and constructed in the pilot by costume design legend Sanja Hays.  She sourced the fabric in LA and had it constructed at Western Costume by their ace team of costume builders.  Since the dress is meant to be the aftermath of Katrina’s death, the skirts are ripped and the bodice and upper layers have been painted and distressed.  The jumps that she wears are heavily boned and lace up the back, sucking in her waist to create the hard line of the 18th century torso. The fabrics are difficult to describe. We searched everywhere for fabrics to replicate this dress – we only have one dress at the moment, and we wanted to make a double for safety – and we came up empty-handed.  It’s almost like the fabrics came from another world, seriously.  The texture and hand of them is fascinating.  I wish I could tell you what they are, but we can’t find them ourselves.  There is a bit of knit fabric, and a bit of what appears to be wool boucle.  The jumps appear to be made of a damask that has been painted and overdyed… but for now, we will only ever have one copy!  Many of you have asked me for pictures for cosplay purposes – I am asking Fox to see if I can take some pictures of these pieces on a dress form for you.  Stand by!


Thanks again for your questions, friends.  And thank you for bearing with me while it takes me a while to answer!  Submit your questions to me on Twitter at #shcostumes and I will answer them once I get another quiet moment.  We are so crazed over here creating more magic for Sleepy Hollow!  I think you are going to be very stoked about our upcoming episodes!  Thanks for watching!



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