When you walk into an office of a superhero, what is the first thing you want to look at? Crazy enough, on both set visits to Marvels’ Agent Carter, I tend to glance at the papers on their desks. Perhaps it’s because they each say some pretty silly stuff. Well, at least that it what I have discovered on the set of Agent Carter.
History of Red Hat
Now that Agent Carter has entered it’s second season, it has also relocated. The SSR has moved to Los Angeles and Agent Carter is finding her place in sunny California. This means a new, more spacious, brighter office, as well as new color tones in her wardrobe.
Don’t worry though — the infamous Red Hat is here to stay! In fact, Costume designer, Gigi Melton even shared the story of the red hat with us. She said it’s an exclusive story that she has never shard all of before, so listen up!
When Gigi originally read the script, it said Peggy was walking “in a sea of gray hats” in her red hat. It was then that Gigi knew Agent Carter “had to be equal power” and therefore needed to be in a Fedora like the men of that time. The hat is based on the original Stetson Stratoliner design of the era. Gigi reached out to Stetson in hopes to collaborate on a design and they were actually celebrating 150th anniversary. With “blanks” on hand, they sent them to Gigi to create with and told her to “have fun.” So she did!
She played with ribbon, folding it this way and that, to get the look she wanted and then sent her final, hand-molded rendition to Stetson to make. Unfortunately, they were not going to be able to get it made in time, so Agent Carter had to wear the un-stamped, prototype. Stetson now makes a line of the hats called the Aviatrix. The only difference in the hat currently sold by Stetson and Agent Carter’s Red Hat is the pinch pleat — which you can ultimately steam out to look the same.
Hayley Atwell, in addition to her many red hats for the show, also has multiple of every outfit she wears. As Gigi puts it, “unless she is walking across the room” there must be another outfit. Her stunt and driving doubles need an outfit; if there is food involved they need a backup; anything besides simple walking scenes requires a multiple. They have had accidents such as spilled coffee on an extra, so the costume department always has to be ready!
According to Ms. Melton, they have 12-14 hour work days and then take some work home too. It is basically a 24 hour process. The team typically consists of 10-25 people in the department depending on what they’re making and how many they are preparing for. They are currently shooting double episodes, so whereas they typically have 8 days to prep, they now have 15 days. But, while shooting two episodes at once, they are basically working like that of a movie set. The entire team works very hard to “bring outfits to the camera with incredible speed“. As Gigi puts it, it is “labor intensive with a lot of work behind the scenes that no one knows.” Yet that is exactly how they want the viewer experience to be.
Here are more fun facts from the costume department at Agent Carter:
- since the clothes often come from vintage stores and thrift shops, they often tear from age and wear
- the team is always on the search for vintage reproductions of shoes, but often run into size problems because feet are bigger now
- when they find shoes, clothes, props the challenge comes in finding at least two for both the actor and their double
- when clothes get damaged, the team salvages buttons and other items for new designs
- almost everything on the actors is made in the USA because it was a strong time for the country and most of the clothes were actually made in the states
- outfits can include blood panels, spare sleeves and other design elements to keep from having to rebuild an entire scene after a scene that damages the clothes
Each character has their own style and color palette. The palette is based on the actor’s skin color in order to ensure they look good in their wardrobe. But, they are also always based on colors from the era with stock fabrics available to the time period as well. They use all vintage buttons —or at least good reproductions — and hand dye buttons to match as needed. Since they have moved to the west coast, the colors this season are a richer, brighter tone to match the ocean and other surroundings. For example, watch for Sousa to sport a few Hawaiian shirts this season to make the beach scene. Oh… and in true Disney/Marvel fashion… watch for hidden flamingos through the show! The one below can found on the walls of the talent agency.
When we asked Gigi Melton which outfit was her favorite, she joyfully stated that she has many because of the heart and soul that goes into each one. Although, the blue dress from season 1 is perhaps her top one because of the great power, cosplay and happiness fans seem to have gotten from it. Since the studio saves outfits forever (or for the run of show), she has a great chance to see it often and even use it again if the need arises.
What has been your favorite Agent Carter outfit?
Tune into Marvel’s Agent Carter on Tuesday, 1/26, at 9pm EST.
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