- The Art Of Craft: Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne Dresses ‘Mary Queen Of Scots’ In Denim
- The Queens Wore Denim: Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne Talks ‘Mary Queen of Scots’
- Everything You Want to Know About the Mary Queen of Scots Costumes
- How ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’ Costume Design Evokes a Subtle Sensuality
The Art Of Craft: Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne Dresses ‘Mary Queen Of Scots’ In Denim
Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie talk corsets (Mary Queen of Scots)and
Royal period pieces are in — that much is made apparent by the two female-driven historical dramas establishing their box-office reign nationwide. Both films stray from the historical script, and while The Favourite does so through the manipulation and embellishment of courtly gossip, Mary Queen of Scots chooses to edit the past with a more-established set of tools: a needle and thread. So I wanted her dressing as the young queen to be strategic — she dresses outfit-to-outfit, appropriate to each moment. Amid her burgeoning jealousy, Elizabeth contracts smallpox, which issues another massive blow to her self-esteem. The hits keep coming, and a few years later Mary provides something she cannot: an heir.
From the get-go, it was clear that Mary Queen of Scots was not meant to be a historically accurate play-by-play of Queen Elizabeth's reign during 16th century England. She and Mary, Queen of Scots, never actually met in real-life and corresponded strictly by letters, but in the third act of Josie Rourke's film, premiering today, the monarchs have a clandestine conversation in-person that forever alters their relationship and the future of the throne. Elizabeth and Mary, played by Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan respectively, convene at a deserted home out in the wilderness in England, during which Mary pleads for Elizabeth's protection against the rebels in Scotland who deposed her as queen. Although sympathetic to her cause, Elizabeth is purely devoted to her country and refuses to provide her any aid, instead telling Mary that she will be safe in England just as long as she doesn't threaten her life. For the monumental scene, costume designer Alexandra Byrne didn't want the clothing to distract from the emotional levity between Elizabeth and Mary.
In Josie Rourke's Mary Queen of Scots (in select theaters this Friday), Saoirse Ronan plays the title character, the defiant monarch who leads.
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What was possible, thanks to Byrne, was giving the queens their indelible looks, which were not only based on historical precedent and extant portraits of each but their respective countries climates. Mary was very pragmatic when she came back from Scotland to France; she arrived in mourning—stripped of jewels, title and her whole life. Her clothes develop out of the sequence of events. Meanwhile, some miles south, Elizabeth is no shrinking violet, but rather a shrewd, smart woman, decked out in royal finery with a keen grasp of just how precarious her situation is. We did a lot of research on smallpox and learned it was an incredibly disfiguring disease. The veil she wears gives us a moment of understanding her pain. The men rode everywhere, their legs would have been coated with horsehair, mud, so I wanted the fabric to look better with wear.
The Queens Wore Denim: Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne Talks ‘Mary Queen of Scots’
By Matt Grobar. Setting out on the Focus Features release, which charts the tempestuous relationship between the Queen and her cousin, Mary Stuart, there were certain practical realities to deal with up front, to do with limitations on period wear.
Everything You Want to Know About the Mary Queen of Scots Costumes
AB: I would say invigorating because a lot of questions are being asked and things are constantly being reappraised. Having worked on this film with a crew that was predominantly men, I feel like I have an even stronger voice. You go into this tunnel of delivering the story and how you can help tell it. AB: That made this experience rather unique. Normally when you read a script, you are reading it to work out the period and how much research you have to do. Your head is spinning.
How ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’ Costume Design Evokes a Subtle Sensuality
The story is a visually captivating experience that retells the turbulent story of Mary Stuart. For those who need a brief history refresher, Stuart was born a Catholic in Scotland at a time of religious tension and was sent to live in France. She married the heir to the throne at 15, became queen at 16, but was widowed at Rather than remarrying, she returned to Scotland to reclaim the throne despite the Protestants gaining control. Her cousin Queen Elizabeth faced pressure to marry and produce an heir to the English throne. To make things all the more tumultuous that's how it goes with monarchs, right?
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