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The Wish List: Alana Bloom’s Wrap Dress and a Problematic Character Trajectory on Hannibal

27 May

Season 2 of Hannibal concluded as it began; with a bloody fight and so I am here to talk about wrap dresses. I say this half jokingly in part because this is a wish list piece on Alana Bloom’s wrap dress, which continues the costume design themes we have seen for this character. The finale is exceptional and devastating on a heart and soul shattering level that a break from the bloodbath with a look at outfit choices hopefully won’t seem too out there. It goes deeper than this and despite this being a truly excellent season, there has been one letdown on Hannibal and I will also be examining the unfortunate path Alana Bloom has been taken down.

Regular readers of this blog will already be aware of how highly I regard Alana Bloom on both a character level – yes, her storyline has been problematic this year – and for style inspiration, which has remained on point all year. Colorful, patterned wrap dresses with a feminine silhouette are a go to item for this character and this sets her apart from the rest of the FBI team who tend to wear more muted and practical clothing. Alana occasionally ventures into the field and her costuming signifies her position as ‘the other’ through the use of print, color and flowing scarves.

I’ve talked in the past about Alana’s muddled role as she shifts from a mother like figure to a love interest and this is even more apparent in season 2 as she becomes romantically involved with Hannibal. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, when they showed the Hannibal/Alana kiss during the “next time on Hannibal” I let out a gasp worthy of a daytime soap opera. This was not a joy filled reaction. Happily switching between character motivations and style within one post is becoming my signature of sorts and in the same article as the mother/lover discussion I take a look at Alana’s penchant for wearing Diane von Furstenberg which is a great segue into this week’s wish list item.

Hannibal 2.13 DVFAs with last season’s finale Alana is wearing a DVF wrap – it’s the New Julian Two and at the moment is only available on eBay – the pattern is more muted than the bold red/white of season one, but the purple chain pattern is in tune with the direction Alana’s costuming has taken this year. Red has previously been a dominant color in Alana’s wardrobe and there has been limited crimson in her costuming during season 2. The confrontation with Freddie Lounds is the only occasion during the second half of this season where Alana is in red. Replacing red has been purple which bookends the season and blue which represents her period with Hannibal. It’s like she’s Van Gogh or something to that effect.

Ah yes, Alana’s shifting relationship with Hannibal and this has been a contentious storyline in part because of questions of loyalty as she went from Will’s protector to turning to the man he has been accusing the entire time. However, the real issue is reducing a smart and powerful character (and arguably the lead female) into a love interest that loses most of her agency and it’s disappointing that this is done through sex.

There are attempts to course correct this and reinforce the notion that Alana isn’t at fault for blindly believing in Hannibal “In your defense I worked very hard to blind you.” Alana often gets pushed to the sideline which also adds to the feeling that her character is a device to be employed when it benefits either Will or Hannibal’s arc. Jack gets a better go of it and one flaw in the overall withholding plan from the second half of this season is how far it has pushed Alana out of their orbit and into Hannibal’s. Yes, they needed a character to be Hannibal’s champion and yes Alana made the first move on Hannibal in “Futamono” (though he of course was working very hard to make this happen), but I still find Alana’s journey from savior to pawn to be rather unsatisfactory. As the audience knows the truth behind Hannibal it makes Alana look foolish, despite our knowledge that she is an intelligent character who usually employs logical reasoning.

It is probably why when Alana found out about everything I practically stood up and cheered (ok I actually stood up and cheered), even if it came at this very late point and she is clearly crushed by this turn of events. Oh and on a costuming note, the green outfit she was wearing when she finds out Freddie is alive is the one from her season 2 promo photo which I wrote about here. This also made me very happy.

Alana Bloom promo costumeBefore I jump down the “what colors represent” rabbit hole again, there are some visual reasons that can explain these choices and the lack of red in Alana’s later costuming could be down to Margot Verger’s color palette featuring an array of reds and blacks. In the season finale Alana confronts Kade Prurnell and Prurnell is the one wearing an orangey/red jacket also showing her ‘other’ status. Unlike Alana who is part of the team, Prurnell is the glaring obstacle. Blue has also been seen on Alana before she stops believing in Will, most notably in “Hassun” the episode in which Alana declares that her intention is to save him. However, blue becomes dominant when she enters a romantic relationship with Hannibal and continues even as she begins to question her faith in Hannibal, as you can see in the shot from episode 11 below.

Hannibal and Alana 2.11Back to purple and as I’ve already mentioned this color bookends Alana’s costuming this season – Alana wears a burgundy dress while playing with the dogs in the opener – traditionally purple is for mourning and symbolizes death. Well, considering where we leave these characters broken, bloody and struggling for breath this is rather apt. Every color comes with multiple meanings and on this occasion the use of purple signifies the symmetry between the finale and season premiere. The fight between Jack and Hannibal is of course in both episodes and we are unaware of Alana’s proximity to the fight in the first episode; the thing that unifies the color here is Alana’s belief in Will. This has shifted and so has their relationship due to Hannibal’s manipulation; however I’d like to think this color mirroring shows a deeper connection.

Alana has been deeply violated by being kept in the dark and I’m disappointed beyond her inky black dream – echoing the inky vision of Alana that Will has during his therapy session in the premiere – we don’t get to see much of her reaction to this betrayal. This reduction and lack of screen time is pretty representative of how Hannibal treats Alana and if she survives her fall, I hope she isn’t so marginalized when we return for season 3. Caroline Dhavernas delivers a strong performance throughout and it’s been notably illuminating when she gets to channel the well earned rage, fear and anguish that Alana displays in this season finale as she chooses bravery over blindness.

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9 Responses to “The Wish List: Alana Bloom’s Wrap Dress and a Problematic Character Trajectory on Hannibal”

  1. Emily August 23, 2014 at 4:17 am #

    LOVE Alana’s costuming this season. Any idea where her red sweater is from in Kaiseki? Where she is talking to Jack in Will’s house.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Hannibal Season 3 Promo Photos Include Costume Changes Galore (Super Spoiler Warning) | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 12, 2015

    […] a number of reasons; she is wearing pants which is a huge departure for her usual ultra feminine wrap dress/pencil skirt styling. And even more notable is the choice of pattern because plaid instantly […]

  2. Putting the Pieces Back Together for those Hannibal has “Framed and Maimed” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - June 26, 2015

    […] was put in the position of Hannibal defender last year creating numerous issues (I wrote about the disservice to Alana here). Hannibal told her that he tried very hard to blind her and here she accepts some of the blame as […]

  3. In the Belly of the Beast on Hannibal | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 3, 2015

    […] away from ultra-feminine silhouettes and prints to tailoring with a severe edge. Long gone are the wrap dresses and pencil skirts; enter pants, a whole lot of red and silver blazers with amazing lapels (this […]

  4. Breaking Up is Hard to Do on Hannibal | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 19, 2015

    […] Also in terms of the Alana Bloom sartorial switch-up this coat harks back to her pre-defenestration wrap dress prints nodding towards an Alana of old. Margot is coming face to face with her former therapist and […]

  5. Answering a Calling: How Everyone Gets Sucked Back in on Hannibal | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 26, 2015

    […] moment she is protected. The Alana/Hannibal romantic relationship was frustrating because of the position it put her in; however I want to see a lot more of this dynamic because their back and forths are rather fun. […]

  6. Out of the Box: Look of the Week | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 31, 2015

    […] here comes the personal bit and DVF garments have often graced these pages with the wrap dress being an item I have desired for a long time. I am attending my soon to be brother-in-law’s […]

  7. Hannibal 3.13 “The Wrath of the Lamb” Review: Twisted Romance | TV Ate My Wardrobe - August 30, 2015

    […] escape and he isn’t backing down on the promise he made Alana. He coldly tells her that she died in his kitchen when she chose “to be brave” and that he owns everything that has come since mentioning […]

  8. Best of TV Costuming 2015: Alana Bloom – Queen of Ladysuits on Hannibal | TV Ate My Wardrobe - December 16, 2015

    […] like getup I knew the show was taking a fantastic turn with her costuming drawing away from the patterned wrap dresses of her pre-defenestration […]

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