26 thoughts on “(Classic) Doctor Who Historical Costumes: The Masque of Mandragora

  1. I agree with your assessment that the costumes were not from either R&J movies and the Harvey costumes look totally wrong when compared with the Danilo Donati ones. Well, Donatiwas a genius and worked with major Italian directors besides Zef. Fellini comes to mind and I believe he might have worked with Visconti as well.

    My question here is why they think the hippy peasant look is in any way Italian Renaissance for women? Sarah Jane sticks out like a Picasso in a gallery of Botticelli paintings.

    1. Sarah wasn’t dressed to blend with the environment (except during the ball); she was wearing her normal contemporary dress.

  2. New or old, I love ’em all. The US showings began with Dr # 4 (Tom Baker), so we never got to see any historical settings (if there were any) from the first three doctors. What we have seen, especially from the last three Drs, is more ethnic clothing and bigger budgets.

    1. I’m in the DC area, and we actually got Doctor #3 first, but it tanked. Then number 4 came along, and it was cult-time after that. However, I was never able to warm to NuWho.

  3. Sarah’s dress is still blending in a little better than if she was wearing a T-shirt and flare legged blue jeans. So she’s not a total sore thumb, just a slightly bruised one. For what that’s worth. (shrug) Anyhow, it’s the Doctor that really needed to change, what with his long scarf and all.

    1. Sarah’s dresss blends in because it’s got the short waisted silhouette of the era and it’s just long enough to be decent. People could easily believe she was a peasant girl from some other part of Italy.

  4. You’ve definitely made your point, no borrowing here from either R&J production. However, I wonder if some of the silver & white masquerade headdresses had ready been used in Lester’s Three Musketeers? I’ve seen some of them in other films. BTW we had the pleasure of hearing James Acheson speak about his career a few years ago. Very interesting!

  5. Whatever the source, some of those characters look like portraits of the era.

  6. Marco was played by the wonderful Tim Pigott-Smith, who also read ‘The Masque of Mandragora’ audiobook. His other costume roles included ‘The Jewel in the Crown’, both TV versions of ‘North and South’ and ‘Downton Abbey’, in which he played the obstetrician whose negligence contributed to Lady Sybil’s death.

      1. I’d forgotten that one! He was also superb as Angelo in the BBC Shakespeare ‘Measure For Measure’. And I had the pleasure of seeing him on stage as King Lear a few years before he died.

  7. I can’t help but giggle like a sophomore when I See the men in those parti-colored hose with contrasting little codpiece flap with the part-coloring verserve. Can you imagine if men’s garments today where designed to obviously call attention to their junk like that?

    1. UGH. Stupid auto-correct:

      I can’t help but giggle like a sophomore when I see the men in those parti-colored hose with contrasting little codpiece flap with the parti-coloring reversed. Can you imagine if men’s garments today where designed to obviously call attention to their junk like that?

  8. FYI, I see the costumes in the 1958 Romeo and Juliet as inspired more by mid 14th C fresco paintings than mid 20th colors. Fresco painting at the time had a harsh, clear, strong palette as artists mixed their pigments in wet plaster — the plaster lightened the pigments, the artist had only one shot (if the artist didn’t like the result, scrape it off and start again), no opportunities for jewel tones or depth of color (unlike oil painting). The costume designer was probably inspired by Uccello, Mantegna, the Lorenzetti Brothers, Piero della Francesca, etc., etc. CF this fresco by Uccello and the figure on the left in yellow -https://arthive.com/artists/1532~Paolo_Uccello/works/329428~The_adoration_of_the_Magi_Fragment

    1. Well, Leonor Fini was a pretty well-known surrealist painter at the time and some of her early work is loosely inspired by those periods.

  9. Sarah’s masque gown is one of my favorite costumes. Doctor Who tended to have quite good historical costuming in the olden days. Not so much now imo.

  10. I saw some of the earlier shows, and rather liked the bits of the third doctor I saw, but Baker will always be my favorite. He’s such a mad genius of an actor, it was hard to find roles to fit his personality (he had a wonderful bit in Blackadder II). My view of jellybabies was forever changed. Sarah Jane was a delight, but the second Romana was my favorite companion of his.

  11. Was just watching the 2007 interview with Acheson and he goes into more detail on the costumes and how the myth came about. As Acheson tells it, he wanted to see if he could rent Donati’s costumes for use in the serial, found a place in Rome that claimed to have the originals for rent, and flew out there on the cheap. Turned out the costumes were from the ’54 production, not Donati’s, and by and large weren’t usable. So, per Acheson, they threw together what they had – some modified ’54 costumes, some rented from local theater companies, and some they put together themselves. His entire history with the show displays astonishing amounts of professional growth within some pretty severe costuming limitations, as he started out doing things like the ridiculous “gel guards” for The Three Doctors.

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