Many thanks to Barbara Davies for the scan! The following article is from Radio Times 13-19 July 2019 Issue
Ruth Taylor, Southampton Costume designer Tom Pye tells RT: “I started with Anne Lister’s diary, which mentions all sorts of items of clothing, like waistcoats, a great coat, a spencer – the short military jacket [below] very popular from the turn of the century up until about 1830. Then I researched as many lesbians as I could! Two ladies of Llanelli, for example, from a similar time, wore all black and top hats.
“I work in pencil first… perhaps ten to 20 sketches before deciding on a design. Once Suranne was cast, we went to Cosprop costume house in London, where I persuaded the heads of both the male and female departments to dress Suranne up in a right old mix of men’s and women’s clothes. It was great fun. “Suranne’s striding was born during the fittings. Everything we put on her was marched up and down the corridor to see how we could make the clothes kind of billow around her. “Underneath she wore corsets and petticoats. Last year when we were filming it was a boiling hot summer, so it was hard for Suranne leaping off walls – corsets aren’t made to do that! I helped her out by putting stretchy ‘power net’ panels into the sides of the corset. “For contrast I went very feminine with the other women.
I used to make Sophie Rundle [Ann Walker] wear three stiff petticoats, some with thin rope sewn through. To get that fabulous bell shape, you need a lot of fabric underneath.
I’m a stickler for authenticity, so I I hunted the world for fabrics. But a lot actually came from Yorkshire -the mills still make fantastic wools and linens. “There’s nothing in the diary to say Anne Lister wore a top hat. but we took a bit of artistic licence. And the minute we tried it, the whole silhouette made sense. It really gave her that swagger we were after.”
But did the hat pose problems for Suranne’s hair? Make-up and hair designer Lin Davie says: “The inspiration for the hair was the top hat – it had to look great with the hat both on and off. For the bun we wrapped a plaited hairpiece around Suranne’s own hair, with two sets of curls either side. The lower ones are Suranne’s own hair, but the ones on top are fake – we set them on a dowling rod every night. She called them her croquettes!”
Costumes on show at Bank field Museum. Halifax, from 12 July, entry free