The great hair and makeup designer on season 2

“The Great” hairstyle and makeup director Louise Coles explains how she dresses Catherine’s court and how wigs and makeup affect the tone of the show.

One of the strengths of “The Great” is the way the Hulu series modulates its tone. It’s a hilarious show until it isn’t, and the show’s ability – particularly in the performances of Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult – to switch life and death issues to comedy. funny is at the heart of why “The Great, well, the rules. Weaving these disparate tones into a cohesive whole is the job of every department, but Season 2 found some of the more subtle and playful tonal pushes in the game. hair and makeup designer Louise Coles, who spoke to IndieWire about her work on the second season.

“Things turn and we go from a pretty shocking or dark comedic moment to calm and loving emotional moments,” Coles said. “So in terms of aesthetics, you can’t be one or the other… It’s a real treat, actually, the writing, because I do a lot of different genres at the same time.” Because one of the show’s ongoing themes is progress over traditionalism, the wigs of those characters that 21st century audiences might find most sympathetic (like Catherine and her most devoted confidante, Marial) are more naturalistic. , in lace, with extensions rolled out the way they are worn today. Meanwhile, the most antagonistic ladies of the court are dressed in hard-fronted wigs, more akin to true 18th-century style. This allows “The Great” to have its cake and eat it too, presenting a detailed and decadent world crossed by a modern sensibility. “I usually want to play with [the styling of the] surrounding world more than with the tracks, so we push it a lot with the background, ”Coles said. “While these things in the surrounding world can sometimes lean towards comedy, [then] I can keep our principles more grounded in reality.

Elle Fanning and Phoebe Fox in “The Great”

Gareth Gatrell / Hulu

Coles focused on two key sequences that really increased the level of period-specific ostentation in Season 2. During Catherine’s crowning streak in Episode 2, a lot depends on Catherine’s ability to win the Russian court thanks to the strength of his character. Catherine selects more on the basis of Russian iconography than the very French sensibilities of her court, a contrast that could either elevate her or reduce her to derision. Coles’ mission with the Catherine Coronation Look was to create something that both sounded even beyond the period of the series but left modern audiences stunned.

Part of how Coles got this reaction was the contrast between the way she styled Catherine and the way she styled everyone around her. “There is something about [Catherine’s look] being slightly from another world, which was important, ”Coles said. “We really pushed the characters around her at the coronation to let you know, they really dressed up for it. [and they’ve] narrowly missed the mark, especially with the ladies. It’s so done that it doesn’t quite work… This contrast really works with the way [Catherine] look at. Coles used textured makeup and modern highlights on the New Russian Empress in order to produce an ethereal look that no one could have achieved at that time and place. “But that doesn’t really matter on this show!” Coles excited.

The Great Elle Fanning Season 2 Nicholas Hoult Hulu

Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult in “The Great”

Gareth Gatrell / Hulu

In Episode 4, Coles was able to tweak the details of the comedy period during a baby shower streak. “It started out a bit small, and then I was like, ‘Let’s do it,’ Coles said. ‘Let’s do themed wigs. Let’s see what we can do … [for Tatyana] we started with the idea of ​​pom poms and gold, screaming cherubs and lots of little knots and things… The underlying tension of the scene is whether or not Catherine can win over a potential enemy by making herself sound funny to court and peter’s friends. So Coles took the wigs higher, the colors in more pastels and the moles to the deepest screaming: “We designed beauty patches in the form of teddy bears, rocking horses, all kinds of baby shower accessories, ”Coles said. The result was that, surrounded by so much excess, Catherine’s attempts to appear funny only made her appear simpler and smaller in comparison. Even in the midst of such elaborate overkill looks, Coles sets up the contrast to serve the scene and increase the tension – as well as the jokes.

Time and time again, the comedy and drama of “The Great” are rooted in its characters. Of the wealthy and very left-wing Tatyana, Coles said, “You know, her life at home is actually quite difficult. [So] she really goes for the style, the wigs, the makeup. But the reality of these beauty processes is tough enough for you. So there are times when we see her without her wig and we gave her a bald makeup application with a highlighter weave to show that her hair was thinning out, [to show] bald patches due to the use of lead makeup and the use of the wig. It’s not necessarily overwhelmingly poignant, there are only a number of times you see it. But I think the thing about Tony [McNamara]the writing of is that we were able to really develop very different looks for each character, [and] I think that gives something very interesting to the series.

This combination of writing and design provides audiences with inescapable logic on how the characters act, how they move and how they present themselves, working individually and in contrast to each other to create a living and believable world, even when it’s ridiculous. This invisible but clear common sense allows us to follow every twist in the story – whether we’re laughing or gasping.

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