Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reigning Glamour: Q&A With Reign's Costumer Designer Meredith Markworth-Pollack

Torrance Coombs (Sebastian), Adelaide Kane (Mary Queen Of Scots), and Toby Regbo (Prince Francis)
Photo Credit: © 2013 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved

Cue the indie music, ignite the love triangle, and start obsessing over the fashion. No Gossip Girl is not coming back (tears), but there is a new guilty pleasure on television to fill your...well, guiltiest of needs. Reign, is a sexy and quite stylish interpretation of the famous historical story involving Mary Queen of Scots. Taking the history and mixing it up with a modern twist, the new series to wrap itself around the CW,  has been getting much buzz since its first photos were shown to the public. Some are skeptical that it will give the network that time period essence that does so well on others, such as HBO or Showtime. Then, there are those, who absolutely love it based on their various television spots, featuring a possible love triangle, royal drama, and lots of chic ensembles. After all, those aspects seem to do well for the young demographic driven channel. Either way, this show looks hot on all accounts. So why not give it a chance? The costume designer behind all the eye-catching frocks, Meredith Markworth-Pollack, answers that as well as some other style inspired questions.

Reign is already being listed, by some, as one of the "newest must watch shows." Personally, what is gravitating me to watch  when  it premieres, is not just all the juicy gossip and of course famous love triangle, but the breath taking costumes, already shown in the previews. How do you feel seeing your work as a costume designer, shine bright, all over television screens?  

I've been able to get a sneak peak at the first couple episodes we've shot at this point, since they haven't aired, and I've been very pleased. It's always exciting to see how everything comes together on a new project. Not only the costumes, but the sets, hair, and make-up. It's a collaboration. 

You have worked alongside the CW for quite some time, in the wardrobe department, on shows such as Hartof Dixie and Gossip Girl, both of which, have trending styles. Do you seek out inspiration for ensembles or are you that good that the ideas just come to you out of whim? 
Rossif Sutherland (Nostradamus) and Megan Follows (Catherine)
Photo Credit: © 2013 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved
I tend to naturally find inspirations depending on the project I'm working on. On Reign, there are so many references to be inspired by it's incredible. Between history, film, and fashion, the resources are endless. I've been loving the Byzantine trend you've been seeing in fashion recently; Dolce and Gabbana specifically have been incredibly inspiring. We also use a good amount of Vintage from the 1920's through the 70's and I've been incredibly impressed with the detail and fabrics of some of the pieces. 

For Reign, you are working with a completely different time period. Instead of present day, you are dressing the actors for 16th century Europe. How much research and preparation went into the costume design this time?

I love the research and since Mary was a real person, it's incredibly accessible. And although our show takes liberties with 16th century style, I think it's very important to know. I've read up quite a bit and we had a historian on the pilot who informed us of the fashion rules and trends at the time. And you learn as you go. We've had an incredible crew in both Ireland and Toronto who are educated in costume history. What's so unique about Reign is that we've taken all this and twisted it to make it our own

Adelaide Kane (Mary) and Toby Regbo (Francis)
Photo Credit: © 2013 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved

Was it fun exploring a new realm, including the fashion trends of that time and such? What aspects were the most difficult and easiest to portray for the clothes and accessories?

I've tried to keep little aspects of 16th century dress in our costumes. For example we've taken corsetry and made it our own. Playing around with shapes and fabrics that obviously didn't exist at the time. We've also been experimenting with hip and waist shapes. Women would wear hip pads which would accentuate the hips but at the same time, narrow the waist. We decided not to use these on our women, but instead we continuously bring in the shape of the waists with jeweled belts and cinches

Are there any styles from Reign that present day women can totally rock? 

Almost all the styles we've used would translate into contemporary times. That's the point of all this, to blend in contemporary trends and create a whole new look. 

Were there any designers that you collaborated with or used their pieces for certain ensembles? 

We worked with Basil Soda on the pilot and we've also used one of his gowns on Mary in the first couple episodes. His craftsmanship is incredible and many of his silhouettes resemble shapes from that period. We've also used quite a bit of Free People for the girls "day" looks. They really nail the romantic bohemian vibe. 

Caitlin Stasey (Kenna), Anna Popplewell (Lola), and Celina Sinden (Greer)
Photo Credit: © 2013 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved

Out of all the outfits that will be donned in the upcoming season, which one are you most excited for audiences to see? 

It's so hard to narrow down favorites because each episode I fall in love with a look even more than the last. But if I had to choose one, I'd say it's a dress that we built for Mary to wear to the Harvest Festival in episode 5. It has a beautiful beaded bodice which falls into tails in the back. 

When the story begins Mary will arrive in France to meet her future husband. Will we see a transition in the way she dresses from when she first arrives as a fresh faced girl, to later on when she grows accustomed to their schemes and ways of life? 

Mary arrives from a convent where she has been schooled. It's very rural and a stark contrast to the castle. We immediately see her transform into a Queen when she arrives, but her style is still youthful and a bit innocent. I think as we move on we will see her gradually become more of a warrior yet still maintaining her feminine side. That is the thing with Mary, she's just as strong as she is kind and I've tried to depict that in her wardrobe. She's a warrior and a lover all at once. It's the lace and the metals all mixed into one. 

Adelaide Kane (Mary)
Photo Credit: © 2013 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved

Adelaide Kane plays the Queen B herself, Mary Queen of Scots. How was it working with her to bring the character to life? Were there any hilarious moments during fittings or filming? 

Adelaide is incredibly professional and determined. She's also very bright and picks up on things quickly. She respects our process and the work it takes to create each individual piece for her. She's a lover of fashion as well and I can see how she's already getting inspired by Mary's style. She's a trooper too. I remember a moment on the pilot where she was sick and we were literally shooting on a farm in the middle of Winter in Ireland with no heat! She was wrapped up in coats and as soon as we would start shooting she would drop everything and transform into Mary. I think she was even playing soccer that day. I was impressed. 

Any pieces from wardrobe that you or any of the actors wanted to keep? 

The girls make it very clear to me when they love something, but they know they aren't allowed to go home with anything. I usually will help them out by letting them in on my shopping secrets.

What is your go to product during a costume emergency on set? 

Topstick (double sided tape) pretty much solves everything. 

Make Sure to Catch the Premiere of Reign October 17th 9.8c

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