HBO are about to own all television again with their upcoming 1920s set series Boardwalk Empire. Period costume fans, set your jaw to dropped.
Adapted from Nelson Johnson’s well researched book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by The Soprano’s screenwriter Terence Winter, Boardwalk Empire is a prohibition era drama starring Steve Buscemi as Enoch Thompson, an Atlantic City kingpin who rules the infamous gambling playground by corruption and violence.
Seemingly with his sticky fingers in every criminal activity going, Thompson is dressed to the nines in rounded stiff collar shirts and pinstriped suits, a forerunner to the 1930s movie gangster typified by James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson.
The sharply detailed costume design (mark the contrast between cops and villains) is by John Dunn. Most notably he created the pilot look for Mad Men, though this is something he is often not duly acknowledged with.
Styling here is extravagant, as to be expected during such a hedonistic time, though subdued in tone with flashes of bright colour, like a blood red carnation or patterned silk necktie. Dunn is credited as costume designer for the first season run of twelve episodes. Already the show has been renewed for a second term, so expect us all to be going gangster chic and flapper mad by then. At least Dunn should get his kudos this time.
Boardwalk Empire is produced by Martin Scorsese, and unusually he also directed the pilot. If this, the writing credit, costumes and setting do not get you excited, then you clearly did not watch the trailer closely enough. First season is due in the U.S. in the fall.
© 2010 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.