From Father Brown to Downton Abbey to Poldark, it’s exciting to dig deep into the physical production of the series beyond the actors ability to create on-screen brilliance to learn from the art directors, the costume designers and the set directors to understand the herculean effort as to how each goes about his or her task of creating the perfect time period setting for the ultimate product we see on the screen at home.
As the sun sets on the first series of Indian Summers tonight on PBS, the same definitely holds true for series costume designer, Nic Ede. According to Ede, the humidity presented a the biggest challenge, especially in a country where, as he puts it, ‘synthetics rule’. “We had to use manmade fabrics as far as possible, or the clothes would have been unbearable to wear,” he said. The diversity and expertise of Penang’s locals proved to be essential as Chinese traders supplied fabric for the Indian tailors who created virtually all the clothes to Ede’s designs.
Ede is no stranger to India having served as wardrobe master on Richard Attenborough’s 1982 epic, Gandhi. Ede also was the costume designer on The White Queen in 2013.
“If you use costumes to imply characters and their positions in society, rather than spell it out, then you’re doing your job,” Ede explains. “Ralph is dressed in black and cream, as he appears to have very few shades of grey. Madeleine, as an American, is the only woman you see in trousers – she has innate good taste. Sarah has no money so her clothes are straight from catalogues, Alice has the air of an English rose and Cynthia has settled in 1920s clothes that she feels most comfortable in. She has a distinct identity, while for some of the characters it’s a bit of a uniform: as a civil servant, Aafrin only wears two suits in the entire series.”
For more on the costumes of Indian Summers, hear more from Ede how he set out each week to transport the viewer to 1930’s India.
Indian Summers concludes tonight on PBS’ Masterpiece series with a second season headed our way in 2016.