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Image / Style / Fashion / Off The Cuff

The Crown: ‘It was extraordinary to dress all these iconic women’


by Jennifer McShane
15th Nov 2020
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The Crown’s costume designer Amy Roberts, tells IMAGE.ie of the challenges that came with dressing and creating the iconic women of the Crown’s fourth season  


On how free she felt when it came to creating Diana’s costumes:

“[I felt] quite free. But I think there are so many key moments in her journey, it’s a funny one, as The Crown is always bookended by real events. And for Diana, a key moment would, of course, be the wedding dress. And when Emma Corrin walked out in the wedding dress, she burst into tears and I’ve never known a crew so quiet. And she found that incredibly moving. And I just loved that about her, she tapped into a kind of sensitivity about people and Diana.

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But I think when there are areas where you don’t actually know what happened, those are the moments you can be more imaginative, freer if you like, but still adhering to this young girl’s journey. So it’s a mixture of being forensically accurate with uniform, for example. And I think the need to be correct about things, but also the need to look knockout not just about accuracy. So I think with Dina and all of them, it’s a really interesting mixture.”

On Diana’s evolving style in the Royal Family:

“It’s a nice journey. It’s a journey of a young girl, whether she’s a princess or not, we start off seeing her as a 19-year-old girl with very little fashion sense. I mean, she’s a plump, shy, charming, very appealing girl. And then she’s sort of kind of grabbed by the palace. She’s not just grabbed by Charles. And the first sighting of Diana is very, very unexpected. It’s something nobody will expect. And I always say, from our first vision of her to our final vision, she started on this extraordinary journey, this toxic journey.

Princess Diana’s wedding dress from The Crown series 4, created by costume designer Amy Roberts

And at the end, it’s a decision; she’s either going to fight or flight. And at that moment, she’s going to fight. And so her look at the end is a million worlds away from her first look. So it was the most fantastic thing to be able to show people, not just the Diana that I think we all remember as this amazingly glamorous, attractive, vibrant creature, but this journey to that point is what we see in this season.

And I think it’s fascinating to see how she develops with her clothes. Because she didn’t have many clothes. When she was engaged, then she’s whisked off to the palace to learn how to behave really. And she had to go shopping with her mum to buy everything because she literally had one coat and one evening dress.”

On the Australian Tour:

“She was finding herself, wasn’t she? It felt like I was dressing up a doll.  There were moments in that, where she’s in the blue and silver evening dress and she’s dancing with Charles. And it’s a supremely happy, romantic moment. And because we know what’s going to happen, it’s a very poignant moment.

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“She’s getting a little bit more muscle. She realises that people rather like her, that people are drawn to her. But I still felt she was at the beginning. She was still not steady, not sure. She was a young mum, and the scene where she slips and Charles is really impatient with her is key too. And it’s all so public. So I felt in that whole section she was still being somehow manipulated. “

On her favourite characters to dress in the series:

“Margaret Thatcher was extraordinary to do. And also for me personally, just to find out more about her. Her politics are problematic for a lot of people. And just to rid myself of that to really understand this extraordinary woman was fascinating.

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And I mean to do what she did in that era was quite phenomenal. I love doing Princess Anne. She’s cool and interesting and spiky and terrific to do. I mean, it was a fantastic season because we have all these different, iconic women.”

On The Interview Room with Thatcher and The Queen: 

“We spent a lot of time discussing the emotional state of both those women in each scene. So you have a time when you see that Thatcher was really distraught by her son is missing in in the desert. And it’s her one vulnerable moment, I think. So we were very careful as to what we felt both women were going to wear to suggest their emotions, and then you have fracture at the whole Falklands War. So we chose a very English design: red, white and blue blouse, square shoulders, very strong.

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And The Queen, who is dismayed this is happening, is very maternal and softer in that scene. So it was all very carefully worked out. The two are very opposing.”

On going into a new era in Season 4:

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“We needed to really go with a slightly more sombre look. And I think with season four, there’s a steadiness, there’s a darker palette, everybody’s on their middle ground. The Queen is more settled in her role and issues in her marriage, were resolved – they’ve resolved something. And then into that, you get this breath of fresh air, Diana, and you get this extraordinary political leader in Thatcher. So it’s a wholly different feel to three. And it’s so exciting because of that I’ve never felt I was going over old ground.”

The Crown Season 4 is available to stream on Netflix now

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