First…I have to get this out of the way.
Deep breaths, the blowing of the nose, the wiping of the eyes and the splash of cold water on the face. (Season 3 is the final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events.)
I’ve composed myself. (Sob!)
Now back to work. Three D’s.
Costume design for all three seasons of A Series of Unfortunate Events, divine.
An opportunity to design for a show like this? Does it come from divine intervention?
Yes and no. Yes for increased production value, larger budgets, and extended labor, but no, because what actor or designer who hasn’t heard this? As a part of any production, we’ve been gifted these two words at least once to guide either in that brevity or as the core of a concept statement as the illusion of the first time…
“Period, not period. I’ve decided I want this play to be period not period.”
But what really does this mean? Period, not period. Period, not period? Here, not here. Theatrical but realistic. Synonym, but antonym. Oxymorons for everyone!
But this illustrates another reason why I love this show, this design, this designer, and her focus on the final, fourth “D”.
(OK, it doesn’t begin with D and I am overly in love with alliteration, but the phrase has a D in it. Grant me a pass.)
“The [Snicket] books are written through the memory of children… And so if you think about that when you’re a young child, and you’re remembering adults, or you’re remembering places, what you’re remembering is … pictures,” Summers explains.
“And it’s not always accurate as to what you know. Instead, it is more how you remember it. So, the costumes are based on reality from a time period, but it’s through a child’s filter.”
The surreal quality of A Series of Unfortunate Events was challenging for Summers not only because of this memory perception filter
but also because the setting of each adventure changed completely every two episodes, meaning a new set of costumes was suddenly required.
You have the same characters, but they’re in different towns,
and different scenarios.
And so you kind have to have them adapt or stand out greatly from the situation they’re in.
What this amounts to is nothing short of visual and cinematic time travel.
In “The Ersatz Elevator”, the Baudelaire orphans are stuck in a Forties-era metropolis in which every single character is wearing pinstripes, even if you don’t notice at first glance. But, just two episodes later, in “The Vile Village”, they’re basically in a Western.
Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of A Series of Unfortunate Events can be found on Netflix.