There are so many levels on which you can enjoy the latest season of The Crown. There are the historical elements which can lead you into a internet deep dive about events like the tragedy at Aberfan or Prince Charles’ investiture as the Prince of Wales. Then you’ve got the soap opera elements about the messy, dramatic, dysfunctional drama going on behind the palace walls, what with possible coups, love quadrangles, and royal marriages falling apart. But one of my favorite aspects of the show will forever be the hair, makeup, and styling.
We got to chat with Cate Hall, the show’s hair and makeup designer about what went into the incredible hairstyles of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, Camilla Shand, and even Prince Philip and Prince Charles. Currently in production on season four (when we will finally meet Diana), she spilled all of her onset styling secrets and the incredible amount of research and meticulous detail that goes into recreating the looks of some of the most famous people in the world.
“I spent months doing picture and video archive research to build a library of chronological reference books to include our principal royals and also our extensive supporting cast of recognizable faces,” she says. “Using these ‘bibles’ of images, one for each royal and one for each block of episodes, I was able to track how their looks evolved over the 13 years covered in season three and start to make a plan for how we might represent these changes on screen. I wondered if going to the bother of having photo books printed was a waste of time but was so gratified to see the whole team and also the cast checking back in and referencing them throughout the shoot.”
It sounds like a totally fascinating process. “Of course, we pay attention to the finer details, and they inform our wider choices, but where typically we start by giving the actor everything we can that might work, for example teeth or plumpers (an appliance set inside the mouth to change the shape of their face), we nearly always then gradually strip these layers away until we reach a point that is believable and real,” Hall explains. “We actually deliberately avoid too literal a representation of the character, since being too verbatim also rings false. Because we are dealing with human beings not mannequins, we have to make choices that sit and move naturally with the actor. Every choice we make has its base in trying to create a comprehensive story world that the viewer can lose themselves in without anything jarring or sticking out; the less noticeable the hair and makeup, the better.”