“The stories are even bigger and perhaps more frightening and powerful,” reveals costume designer Ane Crabtree as she discussed the upcoming second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” during a masterclass at the 36th Vancouver International Film Festival. She reaped the first Emmy nomination of her long career for this Hulu drama. She had contended with the Costume Designers Guild for her work on “Pan Am,” “Masters of Sex” and “Westworld.” Other shows she worked on include “The Sopranos,” “Without a Trace,” “Justified” and “Rectify.”
“Westworld” is primarily set in 2052 and “The Handmaid’s Tale” in 2020, although neither series has explicitly mentioned the year in dialogue. “Both shows for me are rather punk and have a lot of anarchy,” Crabtree explained (watch above), noting the shared theme of women rebelling against oppression. As she explains, “They’re bizarrely similar. I don’t see them as totally opposite, which is weird maybe, but visually, they’re so different.” However, as she notes,“Westworld” is set in the near future, but in a western-themed park. “We decided to settle into the 1850s because it was the most intriguing visually.”
Conversely, “Gilead is three years in the future, but it’s way darker.” Crabtree tries to accentuate this darkness not only visually, but by creating clothing that constrict the actors in certain ways, perhaps making it more difficult for them to walk if it would suit their characters. “I try everything on myself.”
“The Econowives will become very important in season two,” Crabtree teased while discussing her greatest deviance from Margaret Atwood’s source material. The 1985 novel describes their clothes as striped, but Crabtree kept to solid colours for Gilead uniforms to distinguish scenes set in the series’ present day from flashbacks to the real world’s present day. “You want to see pattern in the past only [or] you’ll be confused as an audience.”
To that end, she drew inspiration from the look of Bea Arthur in “Maude” for the aunts’ uniforms, as well as the First World War and even Adolf Hitler. Crabtree modeled their necklines to resemble vaginas and admitted the impracticality of the flaps, in contrast to most Gilead uniforms.
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