- LOS ANGELES
In his play Henry IV, Part II, William Shakespeare wrote the famed line, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
And in a sense that observation applies to the varied artists entrusted with figuratively wearing The Crown (Netflix) as storytellers--from directors to writers, cinematographers, editors, the production designer, et al. All of them had much to live up to after a first season which yielded 13 Emmy nominations and three wins--perhaps no one as much as costume designer Jane Petrie who came aboard for season two, succeeding Michele Clapton who won the Outstanding Period/Fantasy Costumes Emmy for the “Wolferton Splash” episode.
Indeed the lauded series set the bar high yet Petrie has proven more than capable of reaching it as reflected in her first career Emmy nomination which came in the Outstanding Period Costumes category for the “Dear Mrs. Kennedy” episode. In fact this year The Crown equaled 2017 in number of Emmy nods with a lucky 13, including for Outstanding Drama Series.
Petrie shares the nomination with her team consisting of assistant costume designers Emily Newby and Basia Kuznar, and costume supervisor Gaby Spanswick. She gives them major credit for the Emmy recognition. “They need to understand what I’m imagining as we’re working with multiple directors in different countries. You can have the best ideas in the world but if you don’t have the support, you can never realize your vision. There’s also the trust we have in each other, and our being able to communicate with one another effectively.”
The storylines in “Dear Mrs. Kennedy” included newly inaugurated U.S. President John Kennedy and his wife Jackie visiting Buckingham Palace, the Queen finding common ground with her prior to a rift, and then the Queen traveling to Ghana to meet President Kwame Kkrumah, solidifying the relationship between the African country and the U.K,, thus assuaging concerns over Soviet Union intervention. When President Kennedy is assassinated, Elizabeth arranges for a week of mourning, and sends widow Jackie a heartfelt letter of sympathy.
The successful trip to Ghana--in which diplomacy is achieved via Queen Elizabeth’s fox trot with President Krumah--is underscored by the costuming. The fateful dance has the Queen in a ball gown that’s clean, simple yet at the same time carries a certain grandeur. It’s attire that somehow reinforces that the Queen has found herself on this trip.
“I think the biggest lesson of The Crown is you have to learn to let go, to trust your people,” observed Petrie. “While on a set in one place, filming will be taking place at some far flung location elsewhere. You need a high level of coordination. While shooting Ghana scenes, I can trust the Basia is cutting cloth expertly for the Kennedys in London,” related Petrie. “She cuts to such a high standard, so quickly with a great eye and finesse to her work. Gaby is making sure the costume fittings are in line. Emily is a trusted right hand. You need a strong team to connect everything.”
While harried and challenging, the entire costuming process is one Petrie enjoys, buoyed by the camaraderie of her team as well as the many other artists on The Crown with whom she works. That esprit de corps is essential, she observed, given the nature of television. “We have high production values like a feature film. But in TV, the filming is really fast--much faster than a feature. You have to be quicker about everything while still paying great attention to detail in something as involved as costuming.”
Petrie affirmed, “It’s a thrill and an honor to have been nominated after all the love and hard work the entire team put into bringing The Crown to life. From recreating the era’s most iconic fashion moments, to imagining their private world, it’s been an absolute pleasure and I an very grateful to the Academy for the recognition.”
Recognition also came earlier in the year when Petrie won the Costume Designer Guild Award for Excellence in a Period Television Series on the strength of The Crown.
This is the 11th installment in a 15-part series that explores the field of Emmy contenders, and then nominees spanning such disciplines as directing, cinematography, producing, editing, music, production design and visual effects. The series will then be followed up by coverage of the Creative Arts Emmys ceremonies on September 8 and 9, and the primetime Emmy Awards live telecast on September 17.