A Top Secret Look At the Sets And Costumes Of #AgentCarter #ABCTVEvent
Every Tuesday night at 9:00 on ABC it’s lights, camera, Hollywood as Marvel’s Agent Carter takes on a world filled with adventure and intrigue. But tonight when you tune in to watch the illustrious Peggy Carter try to save the world take a moment to look beyond the action and look, really look at the attention to detail that goes into making each episode.
The business of saving the world from destruction may be a serious one, but even more serious is the task of bringing an authentic 1947 Los Angeles to life. From the sets, to the props to the costumes, nothing is left to chance. Last month I visited the top secret set of Marvel’s Agent Carter and had the chance to explore and learn more about just what it takes to bring this period piece to life.
A Step Back In Time-The Set of Agent Carter
Walking onto the set was like stepping back in time. From the typewriters to the file folders to the top secret papers contained in the folders, it couldn’t have felt more like I had stepped into the way-back machine to be dropped smack dab into the middle of the SSR. We even got a chance to sit behind the actual desk used in the show and for a brief moment in time, we were the ones giving the orders to help save the world.
This season, because Agent Carter has moved to Los Angeles, everything is fresh and new and brighter in color to reflect an L.A look and feel but one thing was certain, the world is in good hands with Agent Peggy Carter on the case.
At the time of our visit, I was trying to take in as much as possible but it wasn’t until I saw the season opener last week that all the pieces of what we had seen started to fall into place. One of the fun pieces of trivia that was shared with us is the fact that there are flamingos hidden everywhere.
Whether it’s a painting on the wall, hidden as a prop or as you saw last week, a new addition to the Stark zoo, make sure you keep your eyes peeled and see how many flamingos you can spot.
Behind The Fashions of Agent Carter
From touring the set, the next stop was the costume department for a behind the scenes tour led by none other than Emmy Award winning costume designer Giovanna (Gigi) Ottobre-Melton! Gigi shared with us that the move from New York to Los Angeles meant an entirely new look for the cast of Agent Carter as well. Gone were the very manicured and dark-toned looks that were synonymous with living and working in New York. Being in 1940’s Hollywood – it’s a richer, brighter tone and a lot more fun that comes from being around the beach and water and just that West-coast feel. Gigi explained that it was not unusual for she and her talented and dedicated staff to work 12-14 hours a day or more putting together the signature looks that makes the show stand out.
The process of bringing the 1940’s to life all starts with the script. Gigi first scours fashion catalogs and magazines and tries to find events that happened in the era to see how the people dressed. Add in to that further research to get an authentic feel of how real people at the moment would look and you have a launching point. From there Gigi then needs to make the decision of what designs are going to be used, how many multiple costumes there need to be as a budget is created. Until walking through the costuming department and listening to Gigi talk, it never even occurred to me that multiples of many of the costumes would be needed, especially in the case where stunts are involved.
Every time you see Hayley kick or do anything that isn’t walking across a room it requires more than one outfit. There will be a stunt outfit and because it could tear, she needs to be prepared that it could tear, or there could be food down the front. In addition, there need to be driving doubles, although Hayley is pretty good at driving the vintage cars, sometimes they do need to bring in a driving double, so you need a lot of multiples for that so sometimes 3 or 4 of each costume is produced.
She further explained that as the clothes get holes, they get cut up, but because they make all of the pieces, they can then be repurposed right on down to saving the buttons because like everything else, even the buttons are vintage and hand-dyed.
Normally it takes 8 days of prep to create the costumes and then after that comes 15 days of prep as Agent Carter films two episodes at once. Although some vintage pieces are used, most of the costumes are created from scratch. If Gigi is unable to find fabric, she creates and dyes it herself. From the hand-sewn buttons and adornments to the creases in the pants on the men’s suits, no detail is too small to be overlooked. Peggy’s statement Red Stetson Hat, which was so prevalent in Season 1, while not completely retired, will definitely not be a part of every episode this season, although to understand why, you’ll have to stay tuned in to find out. All the outfits get catalogued and saved. Each network has its own costume place where the costumes get archived. The same is true with props. Every item is considered an asset. Ultimately you just never know how it could get used or re-used.
Gigi’s passion and joy shine through in everything she shared with us and the pride she feels about each and every piece that she brings to life is as wide as the smile on her face. Whether it’s an outfit for extra number 47 or Peggy’s blue suit from Season 1, which is one of Gigi’s favorites, one thing that remains clear is that Gigi pours her heart and soul into each and every outfit because ultimately, they are all a part of her. This is more than just a job but a labor of love and one that Gigi considers a real joy to be a part of.
Tonight at 9:00 when you tune in to ABC to watch Marvel’s Agent Carter, take a minute to “take a look around” and see all the details that help transport you back in time to the late 1940’s. I think you’ll agree just as I do, that it’s this attention to detail combined with great storytelling, and the actors that bring the tales to life each and every week that keep you tuned in and wanting more. Don’t miss Marvel’s Agent Carter, tonight and every Tuesday on ABC at 9:00.
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Marvel’s Agent Carter Tuesdays at 9:00 on ABC
Disclosure: I have been invited by Disney to cover this media event. All material and expenses for this event have been provided courtesy of Walt Disney Studios but all opinions my own.