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Queen Elizabeth II in Jeans: Costume Designer of Netflix Show (The Crown), Michele Clapton Explains All

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Queen Elizabeth II in Jeans: Costume Designer of Netflix Show (The Crown), Michele Clapton Explains All

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Have you seen the historical drama, The Crown? If not, the visual appeal alone of this drama’s costumes is worth your time. In a recent review, costume designer Michele Clapton discussed the balancing act that is required when designing pieces for historical shows.

It’s a difficult act to engage audiences in a way that doesn’t distract but still offers historical accuracy – and sometimes, one side needs to outshine the other. This is precisely why Clapton opted to stray away from the history books (slightly) so that she could entirely engage drama watchers.

Why wasn’t she able to completely stick to historical reference in the costumes she created for shows like Game of Thrones and The Crown? Well, quite basically, she hates costumes that look like costumes. But don’t we all? Nothing is worse than sitting down with your popcorn for an evening of Netflix escapism, only to be constantly pulled back into reality by a cheap looking set or regalia. This desire to create costumes of authenticity even translate to cosplay and Halloween.

Most seek to entrance, not merely reproduce, and Clapton is no different in her costuming endeavors. 

A wardrobe fit for a queen

The Crown follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II, who is played by Claire Foy. The show follows the early life of Elizabeth, her ascension to the throne at 25, and the personal dramas and intrigues that take place – all while Foy completely looks the part, thanks to Clapton and her team of researchers.

While much research and deliberation over pieces that correctly displayed the era’s garb were true to form, the more that was known about the clothing, the more of a license that the design team felt to operate outside of known boundaries, explains Clapton.

Why would she want to not produce an exact replica of what a costume looked like? It’s not that the costumes weren’t ideal, it’s just that when visual appeal has to be translated through a TV, computer, or iPhone screen, much of the visual chemistry of what is seen on set in real life is lost.

Clapton realized the importance of creating costumes that could properly accentuate the time and the actors, as well as and add to the story, but most importantly, her goal was never to distract the audience or pull them out of the story in any way.

“When you’re telling a story, you have to indulge people in a visual way they will understand,” explains Clapton.

With this in mind, she often opted to stick to the rule-books when creating intensely documented costumes that would have taken place through pivotal events like the Queen’s coronation or wedding. However, when it came to the Queen’s personal life, there was much more wiggle room and freedom to imagine (with reference to extensive research) what she might have been wearing.

Surprisingly, the Queen was even given a pair of jeans that symbolized her relative sense of freedom once she took the throne.

 “I couldn’t imagine in the beginning that I would ever put the Queen in jeans, but after researching it, we felt we could.” states Clapton. 

The only catch, to see the jeans in action, you’ll have to check out the Netflix drama for yourself. To get you started, here’s the trailer:

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