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Best of TV Costuming 2013: Pattern and Color on Hannibal

18 Dec

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

The first season of Hannibal premiered in April and from the outset it produced some of the most visually stunning episodes on TV this year. As with the character, Hannibal’s costuming is rich, textured and multilayered. Hannibal is also the only show to appear as part of “Look of the Week” as a piece of set design, rather than just costuming.

Hannibal 1.01 HannibalStarting with the titular character everything that Hannibal wears is meticulous and well tailored. Costume designer Christopher Hargadon predominantly dresses Hannibal in three piece suits (often in plaid) and the elaborate quality reflects Hannibal’s desire to have only the finer things in life. There is an element of control with everything that Hannibal does and yet he also likes to play with his environment and this includes his wardrobe. 

Hannibal 1.11 HannibalPattern clashing is in abundance and this style choice is featured in pretty much every episode. There is nothing accidental about the pocket square matching the teal shirt and the colors of Hannibal’s suits are incredibly rich, even in their darkness. On this occasion Hannibal is wearing paisley with plaid; it’s bold and distinctive much like Hannibal. Dark earth tones are a signature and you won’t see him in bright primary colors. As the season progresses, his suits get even darker to mirror just how far Hannibal is pushing Will’s mental state.

Hannibal 1.08 dishevelledEven when he has been in a full on dirty fight to the death, as he has in “Fromage” he still looks relatively well put together. His pocket square has been ruffled and his tie is at an angle, however this all plays into his act of being in shock. If he wasn’t playing this role there is no doubt that he would have straightened these up and fixed his hair.

Hannibal 1.13 HannibalThe use of shadow with bold patterns means there are moments like this one in the season 1 finale where the only detail visible is Hannibal’s striking tie and grey shirt. He kind of looks like a floating head coming out of the darkness.

Hannibal 1.13 BurberryThis moment also comes from the finale as Hannibal visits Will in his new ‘home’ and the brown Burberry London coat (thanks Wear the Rude for the heads up) is part of the rich brown trend that Hannibal wears throughout the first season. Hannibal is littered with out of the shadows moments and this shot is framed as if Hannibal is the emerging victor.

Hannibal 1.10 kill suitHannibal even has what looks like a custom kill suit and when you have clothes as luxurious as Hannibal you don’t want them getting ruined by a spot of blood. There’s also the evidence factor of course.

Hannibal 1.09 Alana and AbigailThe color scheme on Hannibal is as precise as Hannibal’s suits and there’s one character who wears both bold tones and a whole lot of pattern and that’s Alana Bloom. I’d argue that Alana is the heart of the show as she is the only person who is looking out for Will’s best interests all of the time – in the pilot she talks about the dangers of putting Will in the field as he might get too close and this is exactly what happens.

Hannibal 1.09 AlanaThe variety of prints Alana wears could represent her confused romantic feelings towards Will; she wants to be honest with him and lets him know in the scene above that she can’t have an affair with him while he is this unstable. Whereas both Hannibal and Jack will manipulate Will to get what they desire, Alana is suppressing her desires for the good of Will.

Hannibal 1.08 Will and AlanaThis is the nearest Will gets to rom-com set up and for once his demeanor is only reading at 30% troubled. Part of this is the company and Will takes the step in “Fromage” to get the girl. While this doesn’t entirely pan out – this is Hannibal and not a sitcom after all – if Will does get better there’s a chance these two kids could give it a go. While a lot of their interactions are bathed in darkness in lecture halls and interrogation rooms, the lighting in this open field scene gives a glow of hope. Will is dressed in his outdoor wear and he’s far removed from his usual work attire, the beanie is a win for him. Alana’s wine colored coat and patterned scarf maintain both her signature style and palette.

Hannibal 1.13 orange jumpsuitFrom light to dark and all color has been saturated from this scene except for Will’s jumpsuit and Alana’s multicolored Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. This scene contains one of my favorite exchanges as Will tells Alana “I could use a good scream. I can feel one perched under my chin… I’m afraid that if I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop.” Control is a big element of Hannibal; Will thinks he losing all of his whereas characters like Hannibal and Alana have a full sense of who they are and their working boundaries. This is why they are the two characters who wear pattern and prints throughout the first season. Alana gets bonus bright colors because she wears her emotions on her sleeve.

Hannibal 1.01 Will GrahamWill wears red and plaid in the pilot but as the season progresses all color drains from his wardrobe and it’s pretty much all grey. At a push some earthy tones pop up, but Will’s costuming is all for practical and functional reasons. There’s nothing flamboyant and he even uses his glasses as prop to hide his eyes from the world.

Hannibal 1.02 FreddieNot afraid to make an impression is Freddie Lounds and this all scarlet ensemble dares to clash with her red hair and the walls of Hannibal’s waiting room. Freddie is essentially one of the many devils of Hannibal and like Hannibal himself she likes to manipulate dangerous situations to see how it impacts the outcome.

Hannibal is far more than just another antihero/murder venture and it is elevated beyond these stale factors thanks to the meticulous details in the writing, acting and all facets of the production design including the incredible costuming.

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15 Responses to “Best of TV Costuming 2013: Pattern and Color on Hannibal”

  1. David Lee July 6, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    Hannibal wears Prince of Wales check. Plaid? He is not a hillbilly !

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