Rewatching the first few episodes so close together, I quickly began to notice the many instances where characters are wearing colours that either match or complement each other. Part of the reason I picked up on this is because the transition between the pilot ("Aperitif") and second episode ("Amuse-Bouche") is so noticeable.
In "Aperitif" there's still no overarching colour scheme linking the cast together, but as soon as Hannibal switches from his normal-person disguise of beige and brown sweaters to his own "real" clothing in episode two, everything begins to come together. After this, there are moments in every episode where certain characters are seen wearing complementary outfits or somehow fit in with the colour scheme of their surroundings. This is surely no accident, either as an aesthetic choice or as one of the many moments of visual symbolism in the show.
Before we move onto the rest of the season, I'd just like to spend a moment on Hannibal's uncharacteristically bland outfits in "Aperitif." Someone else has already written about Franklyn's habit of "mirroring" Hannibal's dress sense so I won't go into too much detail here, but as Hannibal's most obsessive patient, it's possible to theorise that Franklyn is attempting to copy Hannibal's style. There are several scenes throughout the series where we see Franklyn wearing layered outfits and "loud" ties that seem like a pale simulacrum of Hannibal's costumes, but in the instance of "Aperitif," I think the reverse may be true: Hannibal is mirroring Franklyn.
|Screencaps from screencapped.net|
This rare visual hint towards what Bedelia du Maurier refers to as Hannibal's "people suit" actually serves to make him stand out more to us, the audience, because he's the only central character who is wearing beige and brown. It's only in episode two that we see his costumes begin to gel with the rest of the cast.
Freddie's outfits are always full of little cues that tell us she's "aggressive," such as leather, fur, and animal print. In this scene she's playing innocent, with her hands folded demurely over her handbag (which hides a tape recorder), and wearing lace patterned tights. But a secondary effect of the red leather dress is that it almost looks as if it's slick with blood. Particularly when combined with the imagery of the next scene, a cheerful jump-cut to Hannibal pouring red Cumberland sauce over a plate of sliced meat. New viewers are left to assume that Freddie has just been added to Hannibal Lecter's meat fridge, although we now know that she lived to spy another day.
One of the most consistent aspects of Hannibal Lecter's character throughout the books, movies and TV series is his love of "good taste." Vulgarity is punishable by death while Hannibal surrounds himself with objects of beauty, but in the end, "good taste" is an incredibly soulless form of self-expression.Will's collection of stray dogs tells us more about his emotional life and personality than Hannibal's office and wardrobe, which mostly serve to tell us that he's very rich and well-informed about menswear and interior design. This brings us back to the "people suit" once again. Give Hannibal a mask and he will tell you the truth: Without all these obnoxious displays of wealth and good taste, people might begin to realise that underneath the many layers of expensive tailoring lies the cold, unbeating heart of a vampire.
Continued in a guest blog on Hannibal Lecter's wristwatch. (Yes, seriously.)
OR, Costuming & design: Abigail Hobbs.