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Julianne Moore and Nicholas Galitzine in costume in a still from Sky Atlantic's Mary & George.

Mary & George: Cutter and costume maker David Wood discusses working on Sky period drama

Photos by Rory Mulvey/Sky


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Sky Atlantic’s sumptuous historical drama Mary & George has taken the world by storm since its release in March.

Of the many elements that bring a period drama to life, one of the most crucial is the costumes. Something that Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) alumnus, freelance cutter and costume maker David Wood knows a great deal about.

“Everyone is fascinated by the historical element,” David explains. “When you go back and look at the fashion, the silhouettes are quite different to the modern-day – especially the womenswear.”

David also says that when it comes to drama, television and film, people want to get lost in another reality.

“Something that I always ask when I go on a project is ‘what world are we creating?’ Although Mary & George is set in Jacobean times, we weren’t quite historically accurate all the time. In the world of our design, we weren’t necessarily making it more modern but making it softer.

“I think that’s what people are fascinated by with shows like Bridgerton, Catherine the Great, and now Mary & George – it’s this transportation to a world that’s not day-to-day reality.”

In what he describes as “an epic job”, David explains that Mary & George required a new costume for every story date, for a story that’s told over decades. As Principal Men’s Cutter, he estimates that his team alone made 120-140 doublets.

“It was a huge production,” he says, “And none of Jacobean costume, or the design around it is basic. We’re talking about characters like the English King and his court, as well as the Spanish and French counterparts. Everything was quite intricate.”

The time pressure on the production was a key challenge. David recalls working for the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he’d get two weeks to make a doublet, whereas on Mary & George, this was whittled down to three or four days.

In his role, David worked closely with the male stars of Mary & George, Nicholas Galitzine and Tony Curran, who he describes as “really good fun”.

“It was nice to have that process with them and how they wanted their characters to be portrayed through the costume,” he says.

On the show, Galitzine played George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who was purportedly one of the male lovers of King James VI and I, played by Curran.

“Nick’s wardrobe, in particular, was just insane, because everything was made to follow the trajectory of his rise to power,” David explains. Some of the first costumes we made were not necessarily your beggar prince, but mushroom-coloured, to signify there was no money in the family. And by the time we got to the end, when he’s in Parliament and taking on the lords or going to Spain, we had really strong doublets with lots of decoration.”

The costumes were making waves long before the series’ release. Photos of Galitzine and Julianne Moore (who played his on-screen mother, Mary, Countess of Buckingham) in costume even featured in British Vogue last year.

“Vogue was quite special,” says David. “For me, Mary & George is the first time that the costumes have got quite a lot of traction – it seems to be everywhere. It’s always a bit weird when you’re on the tube in London and you look up and there’s a massive billboard with a costume you’ve made on it.

“It helps to get people to appreciate the costumes and the hard work that went into them. It’s not easy what we do, which people seem to forget.”

The production of Mary & George brought together several AUB alumni, including David, who graduated from AUB in 2015, as well as his assistant cutter, the crowd wardrobe mistress, and five or six makers.

“There is a camaraderie from going to AUB,” explains David. “Everyone has that shared experience there, but then going out into the workforce, everyone knows you’ve come from a good course; you have the same skill set, so there’s a good foundation. I know when I’ve brought members into my team who are AUB graduates, it’s a bit of a confidence boost for me.”

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