Friday, 16 March 2012

Richard Armitage and Period Costume

John Thornton
There is no denying that there is something very attractive about a man in period costume, the big question is why, exactly? And I should mention upfront that not every actor who appears in period costume develops a legion of adoring fans, so what is the difference between those who simply play a period part, and whose who make us have very some impure thoughts while playing a period role?

I recall Richard once saying how the costume of John Thornton, with it's stiff high collar and cravat, made him hold himself more upright which helped him inhabit the somewhat “stiff” character. Indeed as he also pointed out, the moments when the cravat come off are some of the most telling in the series. (His comments on Thornton's costumes here, at about 2.30)

He also said of his character Percy Courtney
“The costumes are surprisingly more restricting than other dramas I’ve done; they make sure every single little hair is in place.” [Hat Trick Productions press pack ]

Percy Courtney
So perhaps it is this very “stiffness” and the resulting restrictions they place on a character and actor that makes these costumes so very appealing, for both the actor, and consequently the character is bound within their costume, which can be seen as a metaphor for the restrictive morals and etiquette of the day.

Where as modern drama might convey sexual attraction with a wink, a smile or perhaps a suggestive remark, the period actor cannot be so forward. Sexual attraction must instead smoulder, just below the surface so that society cannot pass judgement.

The good actor will still be able to show interest with his eyes, with his voice, with every fibre of his being without needing to resort to more modern overt methods of flirtation. I believe it is this very tease which makes period costume so very appealing; we the viewer are allowed a glimpse of the desire and are drawn in by it, desperate for more. After all, if a character can show that much emotion just with his eyes and the set of his shoulders, imagine the depths of the passion that could be lurking below that prim exterior!!!

And now for some gratuitous screen caps of Richard Armitage in Victorian costume, which let's face it, is really why you came! 

Thornton with top hat! Yum!

Percy got a little bit of variety and branched out from the usual black

Thornton, sans cravat.

And Percy in grey.

Okay, so Thornton got to mix it up a little too, with a gold (cream? vanilla?) cravat

I must say, prefer Thornton's sideburns to the moustache


Other FanstRA blogs you may be interested in:

Didion | Phylly3Rose Gisborne | Fedoralady | IngeD3
 ChrisB | jazzbaby1 | Melanie's Musings | John Thornton | Itsjsforme | Agzy | Jas Rangoon


  1. Oh my makes me wish he was playing my love interest is this dang production instead of the one I got.
    Richard please come and show him how it's done!!!!!
    time for an ICE bath!!!!

    1. What production are you in, if you don't mind me asking?

  2. Those John Thornton screencaps are very appealing, especially since I feel I know the character so well from the book and TV series.

    1. Well I do try and present him in a good light, even if he's playing bad guys! ;)

  3. The period drama white shirt when the cravat comes off is far more appealing than the buff shirtless chest for me. I've never worked out why. I love all your pictures of Thornton and confess that I've never seen Miss Marie Lloyd.

    1. I think men in clothes are far sexier than naked men (with exceptions to things like shell suits).

      I don't know why, but even shirtless John Porter doesn't get my pulse racing (though I would like to see if that effect differs in reality. You know, just for scientific purposes!)

      My favourite clothes are 1) a white naval uniform. 2) a Tuxedo and 3) a well tailored suit.

      I saw a quote on facebook a while back that said "Suits are to women, what lingerie is to men". So true!

  4. Very insightful post. I agree with everything you say, especially the smolder underneath the very stiff and formal clothes. I think that's much sexier than leaving nothing to the imagination.
    I think also that some actors, Richard being the perfect example, feel at home, feel real, in whatever period of time they are playing, and that adds to their appeal. There are other actors who look like they're wearing fancy dress for a party and not really of the time. Oh, and I actually like RA as Percy. He's a rake and a cad, but he does it very well :)

    1. Thank you.

      I loved Percy to begin with but his later actions completely turned me off him. Still, I must admit that RA played him to perfection, the good and the bad.

      And I didn't like the brillcreamed look to his hair, that's never flattering.