The Crown season two is finally out. And the costumes get more fabulous by the episode. We’ve all marvelled at Claire Foy’s perfect evocation of Her Majesty’s every plummy, liquid-eyed expression – impersonating a living monarch is surely up there with King Lear as the acting challenge of all time. And season two is racier and pacier than ever. Following the death of George VI, the bell is tolling for Princess Elizabeth – it’s time for her to emerge from her blissful newlywed cocoon with Prince Philip and step up to the plate (with Prince Philip now forced to walk a few paces behind her, as per protocol) as the new Queen. Meanwhile, Vanessa Kirby comes to the fore in her star turn as Princess Margaret, developing before our very eyes into the hard-living jet setter she became after the heartbreak of her father’s death and the enforced end of her doomed affair with Group Captain Peter Townsend.
There are glamorous cameos for key contemporary figures aplenty – including Jackie Kennedy (played by South African actor Jodi Balfour).
None of these award-winning turns would have rung true without pitch-perfect costumes. The attention to detail that goes into Queen Elizabeth II’s iconic style moments is second to none – stand-out colours, location-appropriate tribute details, weighted hems to avoid embarrassment on windy tarmacs… So the planning involved in The Crown costumes makes dressing Beyonce for a world tour seem like a piece of cake. Throw in the fact that the series has a huge cast of major and minor characters and spans so many years and you’ve got a major costume challenge for Jane Petrie, the woman behind the wardrobe.
‘Colour is incredibly important, I use subtle changes to tell a story,’ she says. ‘For example, Tony Armstrong-Jones often wears a light blue shirt, unbuttoned at the top, to contrast the “proper” crisp white shirts of the palace.’