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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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Out of the Box: Look of the Week

17 Jan

Monochrome has been back in favor for a while now and so many of the best red carpet looks at various events this week have embraced this trend. This also applies to some on point looks on TV this week and so Out of the Box is focusing on the best in black and white. It’s also been a huge week for TV Ate My Wardrobe favorite Diane von Furstenberg as she celebrates 40 years of her iconic wrap dress with the launch of the Journey of a Dress exhibition as well as getting a name check on American Horror Story: Coven.

Allison Williams DVFAllison Williams went for retro glamour while celebrating Diane von Furstenberg as she ditches the classic all American look she tends to favor on the red carpet. The new season of Girls premiered last weekend and this coupled with the Golden Globes means that the Girls cast have been doing the rounds. This is my style highlight of all the many different outfits Williams has worn and I’m digging the faux bob and red lipstick.

Diane Kruger ChanelDiane Kruger in Chanel is a recipe for success and she pulls off this super cute mini bow accented ensemble like a Chanel wearing pro (she is a face of their skin care range after all). Here’s another version of the ‘Lego’ Chanel clutch and I’m having all the bag envy right now. This is a luncheon event for W magazine and the fresh faced look works perfectly; no one wants to go all out for a daytime shindig.

Keri Russell Fox all starIt’s the TCA winter tour and a whole host of parties and panels have taken place including the Fox All-Star event. Keri Russell switched up this outfit for the Americans panel but kept the leather jacket and monochrome palette. I’ve been watching a lot Felicity recently so it’s been a whole lot of knitwear, Russell can totally pull of the leather badass style and this is a stunning look even if I tend to dislike white pumps. As always her hair looks beyond incredible and The Americans is high on my most anticipated list.

Gillian JacobsGilliam Jacobs attended a Chanel hosted event launching Drew Barrymore’s new book of photography and I’m mesmerized by this hypnotic frock. It reminds me of those 60s art prints and of the dress I wore on New Year’s Eve; I love the different textures and patterns and it makes it hard to look away.

Golden Globes PromoTina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Golden Globes style has already been covered and yet somehow this promo shot slipped under our radar; it’s too damn good to leave out and totally fits in with this week’s “Out of the Box” theme.

American Horror StoryIt’s hard to believe that we haven’t discussed how incredible Frances Conroy is on AHS: Coven and while I still can’t work out if I actually enjoy the show – it’s definitely a hot mess – I’m super into Conroy’s Myrtle as a Grace Coddington/Vivienne Westwood inspired hybrid. The black and white polka dots combined with the leather yellow gloves is perfection and Myrtle has quite the thing for fashion as she refers to the DVF wrap dress as the greatest invention of our time.

Zooey Deschanel Kate SpadeFrom this shot it looks like your average polka dot dress (which you know we would love), instead those dots are actually apples and this is the second week in a row for Kate Spade and New Girl on this list. Paired with a red cardigan and bowed belted this is an excellent daytime take on monochrome. You can buy this Kate Spade New York Domino dress here (and it’s almost half off).

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