The Emmy-nominated crafts team said goodbye to post-war austerity and introduced more color to Season 2 of “The Crown,” which ushered in the Swinging ’60s. That meant isolating Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy) in Buckingham Palace as she struggles to become relevant, and liberating her younger sister, Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby), who hooks up with bohemian photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode).
“Slowly the two sisters are diverging and we were able to contrast Elizabeth in the palace and Margaret moving out and meeting Tony for the first time,” said production designer Martin Childs (nominated for “Beryl”). “Suddenly, we’re able to introduce color quite a bit. It was liberating. I was able to run more variation of color of stone, and actually introduce some red and modern, boxed shaped cars.
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“People started wearing color and that gave us license to do the interiors in color. But at the same time, because Margaret was breaking free of her establishment role, it meant that I could be subtle with the modern world and save a few bits for Season 3 [with Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies stepping in as Elizabeth and Philip ].”
In “Beryl,” it was a balancing act of contrasting familiar palace sets of the Queen (shot primarily at Lancaster House in London and Wilton House near Salisbury). “I’ve always been very interested in the idea of isolating someone so that they look like the richest person in the world, playing with scale and silhouette. We did it at the Wilton House. She can’t have a proper relationship with her husband [Matt Smith’s Prince Philip] or her sister. And so to isolate her in large rooms seemed to be an important thing.”
For Tony’s’ studio, Childs did forensic research and then pushed the bohemian world. “There’s the fun of parking his motor bike in the elevator. It was creating one, consolidated, interesting world with garish colors and his stark, black and white photographs. We had our first avocado and people didn’t know how to eat an avocado, they were using a knife and fork. It was fun to introduce the cultural shift.”
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Visualizing the cultural shift was fun for cinematographer Adriano Goldman as well. He was also nominated for “Beryl,” and got to extend the classic look for scenes between Margaret and Tony. “When Margaret visits the studio for the photo shoot, there was something really new and fresh,” he said. “There are brick walls and a motor bike. In terms of tone, it’s a little bluer set at dusk, And in the dark room, it’s a monochromatic red environment, so I did play with color more consciously.”
Goldman also experimented with the zoom for the sequence when Margaret rides on the bike with Tony. Utilizing a camera in a car with a stabilized head, he pushes in on her face when she hugs him. “But because the whole thing is in motion, it’s an interesting use of a tool that we never use on the series,” he said. “But there’s a reason for it.”
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Costume designer Jane Petrie (who replaced Emmy-winner Michele Clapton, back in contention for “Game of Thrones”) was able to draw clear distinctions between Elizabeth and Margaret with fashion and color. “With the outside world moving ahead and leaving behind austerity, I tried to show that Elizabeth was becoming part of the palace,” she said.
“And I often deliberately used color in a way that she would be similarly dressed to the surroundings. There’s a yellowish dress that buttons up the front that matches some of the colors of the room perfectly.” With Margaret’s bohemian outfits, such as a casual blue print blouse and trouser, Petrie used color in a more theatrical fashion that was still believable.
But in Petrie’s nominated episode, “Dear Mrs. Kennedy,” the Queen’s famous sky blue dress looks almost ridiculous compared to the chic gray gown worn by Jackie (Jodie Balfour). “It’s so old-fashioned and stuffy, but those decisions were being made by the men around her,” she said. “When she starts to take more control by the end of the season, we see more of her personality in some of the clothes. She finds herself in that period.”