Unordered List

Sunday 23 March 2014

Costuming and design in NBC's Hannibal: Abigail Hobbs

Previously: Costuming and design in Hannibal, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (Hannibal's wrist watch.)

While Hannibal Lecter's suits are undoubtedly the most eyecatching costumes on the show, I found myself really warming to Abigail's costuming when rewatching season 1. Her clothes in "Potage" are particularly interesting, because they were bought for her by Alana Bloom. This means that rather than wearing her own clothes, she's actually dressed in Alana's interpretation of Abigail-clothes.

Abigail may be an emotionally fragile 17/18-year-old girl, but I'm glad to say that she's neither dressed up like a TV teen (which wouldn't remotely fit in with the overall tone of Hannibal), or styled to look more childlike and therefore ~vulnerable. Like the adult characters, she has a very specific dress sense and colour palette, which in her case is very "outdoorsy". Either she's wearing sensible hunting clothes to spend time in the forest with her father, or she's dressed in green and brown, often surrounded by natural imagery of plants and flowers. While Hannibal is a Francis Bacon painting and Will is an Edward Hopper, I think Abigail is a botanical illustration.
Screencaps via
Abigail's hospital room is very serene, with her butterfly-patterned nightdress matching the pale blue-green bed linen, furniture and patterned wallpaper. This delicate floral motif is directly at odds with Freddie Lounds, who shows up wearing a leopard print dress, a red-lined cape and gloves. Freddie looks practically Disney villainesque in her predatory role as Abigail's unwelcome visitor, and is the one central character in the episode who isn't wearing an outfit that fits in with Abigail's colour palette.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Costuming & design in NBC's Hannibal: Hannibal Lecter's wristwatch.

As part of my ongoing series on costume and design in Hannibal, I'm going to post my first guest blog with contributions from an outside writer. My brother is a watchmaker and an avid fan of Hannibal, and recently mentioned to me that he had some thoughts on Hannibal's watch in the show (a $176,300 white gold Patek Phillippe 5270G Chronograph, apparently). Here's what he had to say:
via weartherude
Patek Phillippe are generally seen by most watch people as the big brand leaders. They have an extremely prestigious rep, although reputation is very, very weird with watches. It doesn't just vary by brand but also by model. The Rolex worn by a particular James Bond in a particular Bond movie may be seen as some amazing piece of art, but a gold-cased Rolex of the same model but a different year could be trash. To give you an idea of Patek Phillippe's marketing brand, here's a recent advert:

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Costumes and design in NBC's Hannibal, Part 2.

Previously: Part 1

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

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Costumes and design in NBC's Hannibal, Part 1.

I probably should've been writing about the costumes of Hannibal from the very start, but I confess to feeling a little overwhelmed. The quality of the costume design (and set design, and food design, and soundtrack...) in Hannibal is so incredible that not only does every episode deserve its own post, but lots of other people have already been analysing it since day one. Is there even room for another reviewer? But as luck would have it, I just moved in with someone who has never seen the show, and we decided to watch season 1 from the beginning. I can now verify that it's one of those rare TV shows whose rich detail means that it actually improves when you watch it for a second time.
In "Aperitif," Hannibal's costumes are far more varied than in later episodes, mostly because he's wearing a kind of everyday camouflage half the time. A more literal version of what Bedelia du Maurier refers to as his "people suit," if you will.

At home and in his own office, we see Hannibal in his typical uniform of luxurious three-piece suits. But whenever he has to go to the FBI, he wears what basically amounts to normal-person drag: a scruffy blazer, brown sweater, and unbuttoned shirt. The colours complement each other, but it isn't the kind of daring fashion choice we see him making in most other scenarios. I suspect this was him testing the waters at the FBI, attempting to fade into the background until he's scoped things out. Hannibal doesn't actually make much effort to disguise his eccentricities in day-to-day life, but he does ease people into them. That's how he gets away with making so many cannibalism puns during his dinner parties, I suppose. But while Hannibal's uncharacteristically scruffy FBI outfit was something I noticed when I first watched this episode, the moment that I found most visually arresting this time round was his first appearance onscreen.
The first thing we see from Hannibal Lecter is his hands, cutting into some meat as he eats alone in the dark of his house. Virtually all reviews of Hannibal comment on the way the show concentrates on the journey rather than the inevitable outcome of Hannibal's arrest and incarceration. We know that Hannibal is a cannibal, and the writers know that we know. There's very little suspense in that regard. So the show can cheerful jump-cut from Will Graham saying, face twisted into a grimace, "He's eating them!" to a lingering shot of Hannibal tucking into his first sumptuous meal of the series. We're all in on the joke, which makes Hannibal's frequent "I'm having an old friend for dinner," puns all the more delicious.