V143: Madame de Pompadour in “Dr. Who”

As some of you know, Madame de Pompadour made an appearance in 2006’s “Doctor Who,” Season 2, Episode 4, “The Girl in the Fireplace.”

Is it just me, or were the gowns in this production ridiculously awesome for a TV show?  I appreciate that they took the time to get it right, right down to the winged cuffs on one of Pompadour’s earlier gowns.  Go, BBC Wales!

Here are a few screenshots from the episode.  Enjoy!

Remember, you can get Pompadour’s style, at least in footwear, on pre-order right now at www.american-duchess.com .  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a free pair of Pomps, too – the winner will be drawn tomorrow!  Pre-Order ends June 1st.

Pompadours … the Pomp for Every Circumstance (even clockwork men trying to harvest your brain)


  • Emily Kate

    May 22, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    'The Girl in the Fireplace' is my all-time favorite Doctor Who episode! The costumes were definitely way above-average for tv… gotta love the BBC!

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    May 22, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Many of them appear on the Recycled Movie Costumes blog. I LOVE the idea of big warehouses of fabulous gowns from 50 years of movies. Wish I got to make them for a living!

  • Michelle Hamilton

    May 22, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    The BBC always does a fantastic job on there period piece costumes, they seem to "get" the sense of history in there movies and shows. American productions can't even do period women's hairstyles correct–so forget about the clothes!

  • NileQT87

    May 23, 2012 at 5:52 AM

    If you track down the relevant Totally Doctor Who episode (behind-the-scenes show for kids that aired during series 2 and 3–and I'm sure there's more costume porn in the Doctor Who Confidential), there's a whole segment where they talk about the costume house (in fact, they show it) and do a dressing session to show kids how the layers were all put on. I do know these costumes all close with hooks and eyes. I noticed that straight away. And they talk about the fancy gown being Helen Mirren's.

    (Oh, goodness, I'm a Whovian. I have these behind-the-scenes bits on my computer… Not to mention every single episode of the show ever–well, reconstructions for the missing episodes. I equally nerd over the 18th century Jacobite Highlander costuming in The Highlanders–Patrick Troughton's companions included a Jacobite and a Victorian lady… and Sarah Jane's Italian-styled kirtle from The Masque of Mandragora–you HAVE to see that dress. I want it so bad.)

    • American Duchess

      May 25, 2012 at 7:45 AM

      I can't be mad about the criss-cross lacing, lol. I suppose it is faster and easier for those who are dressing actresses … I know I've mis-laced my spiral laces many many times, and I know what I'm doing!

  • Anonymous

    May 23, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    I have been meaning to watch this episode for ages, now I definitely will! I did a couple of week's work experience at Angels costumiers in London, which is the biggest in Europe. They were supplying costumes for Doctor Who whilst I was there so they may have supplied these too. You can go and have a guided tour for anyone visiting London, but they do them on appointment only. Check out their site http://www.angels.uk.com/ and be prepared to drool!
    The place is even bigger in real life as the photos can't capture it all, basically an enormous aircraft hanger with rails two and three rows high! Its a must on the list for anyone visiting London!

  • NileQT87

    May 24, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Yep, it's definitely Angels (you can see the name in the top picture I posted from Totally Doctor Who).

    Among the costumes they show in that behind-the-scenes video are a bunch of the TGitF 18th century costumes, the Queen Victoria and other costumes (Isobel and a maid's outfit) from Tooth & Claw, the cat nun and Duke of Manhattan outfits from New Earth, etc… It's clearly their main costume house. Doctor Who has always been particularly good for historical costuming (going back to the abundance of William Hartnell's '60s historicals), as that's the BBC's forte.

    Neat that you worked there! It definitely comes across as huge in the video.

    The Reign of Terror and The Highlanders (sadly, the latter is a missing story and the former has two missing episodes–plenty of telesnaps, complete audio and a few clips–Jamie's historical kilt only survives briefly during episodes 2 and 3 of The Underwater Menace now–it ends up at the bottom of Atlantis) are both set in the 18th century, too. For medieval/renaissance, there's Marco Polo (all missing), The Crusade (half missing–w/ Richard the Lionheart), The Masque of Mandragora (late 15th century San Martino–da Vinci's studio makes a brief appearance in City of Death), etc… The Romans is Nero's Rome and The Fires of Pompeii was actually filmed on a set in actual Rome (it was cheaper than trying to build one). The Visitation is 1666. Black Orchid is 1920s fancy costume party and The Unicorn and the Wasp is also 1920s. The Talons of Weng-Chiang is vaudeville/Limehouse East End London in the late 19th century (very Jack the Ripper). The Evil of the Daleks takes place in a Victorian house with Victoria in her big crinoline dress (also seen at the start of The Tomb of the Cybermen). And of course, all the Classic episodes themselves are now a trek through miniskirts, Jo's many platform go-go boots, Zoe's hot pants jumpsuit with a big circle zipper (not to mention a PVC micro skirt), '70s bohemian fashions, Peri's Bermuda shorts and… Sarah Jane's famous Andy Pandy overalls. An interesting idea is in The Time Monster for how to make a busty Minoan dress not be R-rated if you're willing to bend historical accuracy just a bit! The War Games is your guide to war outfits throughout history (WWI, Rome, Crimea, Boar, Jacobite, Am. Civil War, Napoleonic, etc…)–that one loves parading the hats (such as the Pickelhaube–the German spiked helmet) and is pretty much the ultimate history mash-up. Speaking of hats, Patrick Troughton sported an early 19th century Paris Beau hat for several early serials (it's frequently misidentified as a stovepipe).

    If you go for Big Finish audios, The Glorious Revolution is actually really informative on a rather missing bit of history that you certainly won't be taught in school (James II's 1688 exile–grandfather of the Young Pretender, Bonnie Price Charlie–and the difference in how the "Bloodless" Revolution was perceived between the English and Scottish). I was thoroughly unaware of that bit of history, so sometimes the early old-fashioned Doctor Who historicals are basically Cliff's Notes when done well. Good on the BBC for The Highlanders, which is also a rather awkward topic for a mostly-English production. There was a stronger educational intent in the '60s before the sci-fi totally took over.

    Doctor Who is definitely a source for costume inspiration.

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