Has anyone ever seen one of these up close? I'm trying to figure out the best material to use for the braiding/piping.
Has anyone ever seen one of these up close? I'm trying to figure out the best material to use for the braiding/piping.
I have not seen The Village "wear" costumes, however the Portmeirion "The Prisoner Shop" sells replica Number Six-style blazers, on their website. Regretably the largesr size which they stock is US Size 44...
I have one and they did a nice job. Im currently in a middle of a move. When I get settled in I'll post pics.
I'm not a big fan of the "official" blazer - the lapels have a weird shape, and the braiding is unbroken...I know that McGoohan's did this in "Free for All", but I much prefer the notched braiding he wore the rest of the time. Plus, for a hundred and fifty quid, I dunno...
The blazers used on The Prisoner were custom-made regatta (or boating) blazers, dark brown in color with cream-colored braided trim. They were made from a fuzzy-textured material (probably melton wool) and had narrow lapels, three patch (not jetted) pockets, two front buttons, one button on each cuff, and no vents. The blazer used for the first location shoot in Portmeirion had continuous piping across the lapels, but for the rest of the production the blazers had a break in the piping at the lapel notch.
Finding a suitable blazer in dark brown is almost impossible, but since the blazer was designed to "read" as black with white piping on film, I think you're fine using a black blazer -- it's what everyone expects to see, after all.
As for the trim, I've found that using pure white comes off as a bit cartoonish, so I'd recommend going with something a bit off-white. I have a good close-up picture showing the texture of the trim on McGoohan's costume -- I'll scan and post it if anyone's interested.
Normally, I'm all for being as accurate as possible to the original costume, but in this case, I've had the image of a black and white jacket in my mind for decades, I might have to make a black and white jacket when I eventually do this costume. I'm torn between reality and my memory! Oh, the dilemma.
A friend and I did these about 25 years ago.
As a fan of "The Prisoner," I have been following this thread about No. 6's blazer quite intently. Using the information that has been provided, I went down to a local thrift store and found a reasonable facsimile of the blazer. It is dark brown, appears to be wool, with narrow lapels. Only differences between this and the authentic version is it has 2 sleeve buttons, three front buttons, and a vent. Otherwise, it looks remarkably like the one worn by McGoohan. The jacket cost me only $6.99. So it is possible to find something similar to the classic Village jacket. I am now on the lookout for the braided piping. If anyone has any online hints as to where to find the material, please let me know.
What you're looking for is called "foldover braid." I got mine here, but they no longer offer Ivory, the color I used -- I've found that pure white is a bit too bright. The beige color they offer is too dark, and the ecru is too shiny. If you can't find any off-white braid, I'd recommend getting some white braid and dying it down just bit to take the edge off it.
The stuff frays like crazy, so buy extra and be careful to keep the ends taped at all times. (Also, be sure to wrap the braid with tape before cutting it.) If possible, I'd recommend closing the vent on your blazer. It'll make doing the back trim easier, and the rear of your jacket will look more screen-accurate.
Last edited by Dondragmer; Nov 26, 2012 at 12:26 AM.
Just going to bump this as we're finally getting round to it. Found a great dark brown fabric with the appropriate texture from an independent fabric shop here in Baltimore, and Joanne's had a good braiding. Getting the angle of the lapels I think is going to be the biggest challenge.
Any movement on this...? I'd be interested in a near screen-accurate blazer.
Wonderful source of information here re the Blazer, but how about the rest of the outfit? Looks like cream chinos to me, and is that a navy t-shirt or sweater? I actually used to have a pair of runners (trainers) that were black with white shanks.
The rest of the costume is easy: The trousers are tan with slightly angled front pockets (worn with a belt), and the jumper is a navy blue turtleneck. Shoes are lace-up navy blue deck shoes with white soles, white welts, and navy blue laces. Socks are brown or navy blue.
The Prisoner costume is black.
Dondragmer's information is correct. Something that strikes me as very odd in many webpages dedicated to the Prisoner's blazer is that someone, somewhere, way back, introduced the idea that the melton wool blazer is a dark shade of brown. This is wrong. The blazer, which is typical of 1960's English school blazers, "Abbeygate" Blazers being one of the common brands from that time - identical to the Prisoner blazer, is black. ( Of course, there is no such thing as black in nature - black is a dark shade of grey which is itself a blend of all colors in the spectrum, but the shelf name for the blazer is indeed "black". Call it charcoal grey if you really want to, but that's getting very technical -- it is black.
And it is not unusual for black clothing to contain a hint of red fiber which tips the color toward a warm hue as opposed to a cold one if the incidental fiber were blue, for example.
(Brown would never come off as blueish in night conditions but Black does, which is why some people actually also believed that the costume was dark blue).
The warmer hues of film emulsion may occasionally have caused the color to appear as a lighter shade of black subjected to whatever environmental light but any photographer or cinematographer will tell you that black is always a tricky color on film. That said, BluRays now settle the matter easily enough.
I work in film and I am used to seeing colors transformed through color grading - the jacket is definitely black - Black often reflects blueish hues or warmer greys which can appear under certain conditions as brownish. All colors read differently on film and are always greatly affected by light.
It is not unusual for art directors and costume designers to modify their textures and colors after the cinematographer does a grading test. Clearly in the case of ITV, things were shot rather fast, and with little attention to grading details - the entire show The Prisoner suffers from mismatched color grading. And mismatched costumes.
But there's more: while visiting a friend in the UK, I was introduced to a relatives of a man who'd been a stand-in for McGoohan during filming in Portmeirion, and who wore one such jacket, who confirmed that the principal jackets were indeed black and no other shade, as far as Prisoner's costume was concerned.
It's a mystery to me why the Portmeirion shop strayed away from the correct materials and pockets - I can only assume that a careless person deemed the job 'good enough' for undiscriminating tourists. Part of the problem is that they focused on an auctioned artifact which they believe to be the real thing but whose origin is highly disputed aside from the fact that it is old.
What appears to have happened is that a first jacket (with continuous piping) was used to shoot the Portmeirion exteriors of the pilot episode. all the interior shots in the pilot, which were shot later on the MGM lot, have a different "non-continuous piping). This alternating motif continues for a few episodes, suggesting that all the exteriors of the initial episodes were shot on one trip. What complicates the analysis is that several shots which appear to be "exteriors" are in fact studio shots in which small set pieces of village sections were reconstructed (sometimes with painted backgrounds - this is especially visible in the "old folks home "outdoor set" which is fake from the second episode onward. Prisoner's exterior apartment is also a set in many shots even though it is modeled perfectly after the Portmeirion exterior, which further complicates the identification of which costume was used where and when.
They were clearly mismatched but to be fair, no one at that time paid any attention like we do today. And no one could stop or replay sequences ad-nauseum.
Once one identifies the "fake" Portmeirion exteriors (which are in fact later segments shot on stage) it is easy to see how one jacket design was rethought and appears a bit later. After what seems to be a second trip to Portmeirion to shoot more exterior pick-ups, the "broken piping" jacket appears in the actual Village to replace the original design.
Ironically, the best way to make a Prisoner costume is to use a blazer from that time period and place, and not try to remake it from scratch.
Last edited by dustyroadz; Oct 26, 2015 at 5:36 AM.
Aside from the conclusions about color (I am certain the blazer was actually brown), I’m in complete agreement with dustyroadz’s comments. To go into specifics:
As production began for the first location shoot in Portmeirion, only four scripts were ready, at least to point where principal photography of exterior locations could begin: “The Arrival” (“Arrival”), “Free for All”, “The Queen’s Pawn” (“Checkmate”), and “Dance of the Dead”. At the very end of that shoot, the crew managed to squeeze in handful of exteriors for a fifth script, “Chimes of Big Ben”, but for the most part that episode made use of the studio mockups dustyroadz mentions, as did most of the later episodes. For the exterior sequences in those first four episodes you’ll see McGoohan wearing a blazer with continuous piping, but he wore a blazer with broken piping for everything photographed after that point in time (including interiors on those four episodes).
The piped blazers were custom-made for McGoohan by John Michael of London, and conformed to the current fashion trend. As dustyroadz says, blazers of this precise style were extremely common in the 1960s, the only difference being that the blazers used on the production were exquisitely hand-tailored. They were not black, however, but a very dark shade of brown. Solid blacks and whites didn’t read well on 60s film stocks, so film and television productions tended to avoid using them. (That’s still true to a lesser extent today.) Another example is McGoohan’s “civilian” black suit from “Fall Out” – it was actually charcoal grey.
Why am I so certain the blazer was brown? Jimmy Millar, Patrick McGoohan’s personal dresser, kept a number of costume pieces from the series, including one of the iconic blazers. It’s been publicly displayed several times over the years, most notably at conventions run by fans of the The Prisoner. While I’ve never seen the blazer in person myself, I’ve spoken to many who have, and they all describe it as dark brown in color. What’s more, Bonhams sold it at auction back in 2005, and their description of the item included the following:
“The colour of this jacket is very dark brown rather than black.”
But as I said earlier, it’s extremely difficult to find a dark brown blazer in the proper style, and since the costume was designed to appear black on screen, I concur with dustyroadz's recommendation to use a suitable black blazer.
I yield the floor to Dondragmer on the color issue, but...
I also recall reading the comment from the auctioneer at Bonham's... I wondered about it, but it seems to me that as an auctioneer (not an artist), it would be his duty to disclose any specifics about his perception of the color to prospective bidders, and since those prospective bidders are not schooled in either photography or costumes, it is a fair guess that it would be best, from his perspective, to underscore that the jacket did not really look "black" up close - black doesn't always mean what people think of as "black" (just as with white incidentally)...
I also know from experience that although most people are not color-blind, these areas of color perception tend to get mired in issues of subjectivity because we all have different retinas and sophisticated tests show that most people do not perceive the same subtle shades in-between color families.
It is possible that this jacket is creating one such Rorschach effect.
I suppose that the point I was trying make (since this thread seems to be about helping fans recreate a proper #6 blazer) is that if you go into the challenge looking for a patch-pocket single breasted melton wool jacket with a properly sized boutonničre lapel, and boutonničre sleeves, and look for it as a "dark brown", hoping to find something that will look like what you saw on TV or in the photos, you probably will never find it. On the other hand, if your search criteria is inscribed as "black", you just may find the jacket.
Another way to frame the question is "were you to address a tailor or a costume designer, would you ask for a brown or a black jacket?" - "would you ask him to find the proper shade of black, charcoal, or "brown"?
Dondragmer and I both seem to concede that "charcoal" is a more correct term, and artists also use notions of warm gray, that vary up and down the Pantone scale to black. Every shade has a warm and cold hue and gray can travel all the way to black, going through a shade that is likely to be that of the John Michael of London design.
Another "for instance" is that in advertising art and animation, warm gray and charcoal gray tones are used to color-in tree trunks, despite the fact that untrained artists think of a tree trunk as "brown"... I know this is all a bit technical, but costume design is indeed technical, and as Dondragmer points out, rightly, costumes designers never use the darkest shade of black for films because the darkest shade of black would never reveal any textures. All films use shades of gray to portray black. Quite often, costumes are made in different shades to correct for alternating lighting conditions, too. (It didn't happen with the Prisoner, apparently, which was produced fairly cheaply.)
Some scenes in the Prisoner, show McGoohan stepping outside in bright sunlight, and in those rare instances, you get to look at the jacket in its most unaltered image. There, you can see what its color appears in natural conditions and judge for yourself.
At the bottom line, for anyone interested in recreating the jacket, I wanted to illustrate that asking for "brown" or "dark brown" off the shelf, when discussing a melton wool jacket will not get you as close to the real deal as asking for black. Even though, true enough, you don't want the dark shade.
Dark Warm Gray, or Dark Charcoal, is probably the best description you can give anyone tasked with finding the right color for you, but understand that if you score "brown" your jacket will not look anything like what you are after, even if you've ticked all the other boxes.
We now come to the next level in the challenge: the piping.
I checked-out the link offered by Dondragmer (sewbizfabrics dot com) and I do think that the foldover bias is a good option, but their materials have a unique weave pattern which doesn't match #6's braiding.
To me, the jury is out on where to best match the pattern of the fabric which in many angles looks almost like a gros-grain horizontal pattern.
In Europe, I found a couple of samples which look close, but it is hard to tell exactly what was used in the TV series - here are some examples (They are not "foldover" but the foldover feature, though seemingly convenient, may restrict choices considerably)
-- In my view, it is important to look for a woven pattern which generates a horizontal motif when positioned properly.
This recent discussion has made me want to stick my neck out to locate an ideal piping, and I will post again soon, in the interest of helping others who may want to make a Prisoner jacket, if I feel I have found something to offer in addition to Dondragmer's links.
The samples (above) show various finds displaying levels of "off-white" from cream to bone, and "ecru".
The strip on the left comes closest in terms of pattern. The second strip is "grosgrain" which gives off a pattern similar to #6's although it is not accurate.
The other 3 are cotton braids. Also close, but no cigar... (More to come, later, as I get closer to the correct braiding.)
Below is a better look at the weave/pattern on the braiding from the series:
Last edited by dustyroadz; Oct 26, 2015 at 6:25 AM.
MORE ON THE JACKET'S BRAIDING: I wanted to add some recent findings about the braiding used on the Prisoner jacket.
I had been on an extended hunt to locate the most convincing sample I could find for the sake of accuracy, and, in the process, discovered quite a bit about braided fabrics. I had a couple of film costume designers look at a selection of shots from the Prisoner series and we came across one particular close up of Patrick McGoohan in the episode "Checkmate" (at time-stamp 10:04) an episode which is largely shot on location, and uses the "broken piping" jacket in one out of every two exterior shots in which the jacket is featured (indicating that much of it was shot completely out of order).
This particular close up is interesting because it's captured with a very sharp lens, in natural light (presumably indirect morning light, based on the angling of the light on #6's face, anyone familiar with the layout of Portmeirion will know that the "shop", northern most point in the Village, is lit exactly in this manner, from that camera direction, near 9:00 or 10:00 AM depending on the season) and only seems to be lit with reflectors which are white, rather than electric 100K Arcs typically used for outdoor fill light in those days, which contain a tinge of warmth (yellow). In this shot, the braiding is seen remarkably clearly and the two (horizontal and vertical) patterns created by the weave in the brain are at their most visible when #6 turns his head to look at the doll in the window behind him.
Based on this photograph, we identified the braid as Viscose Rayon or cellulose, which is a silk-like fiber made from Mulberry Bark, and determined that the color in natural light is indeed plain white. It seems as though the illusion of a tint (off-white, or bone color) comes mostly from the electric lights in the interior settings. The braid clearly shows a slight sheen that wavers in the outside light.
It also appears that in several episodes, the white appears dulled down to a darker shade nearing warm gray, which may be an optical illusion partly caused by the fact that the sheen in the viscose is seldom picked up on Kodak film stock as anything other than a 'dirty' gray, when it merely reflects darker tints. The best way to evaluate a color in fabric is to sample the lightest pixels and assume that anything else is caused by shading.
Again, the close up photograph of Patrick McGoohan in this section gives clear information on the braiding, color, and woven pattern.
Of course there were more than one jacket in use: The crew call-sheets published in the BluRay box set of The Prisoner clearly indicate the presence on set of 2 or more identical jackets for McGoohan and doubles, particularly for scenes on the beach or scenes in which stunts are involved, like physical scuffles.
Throughout the series, other characters are also seen wearing varying styles of linen jackets which use similar braiding in different colors. In Hammer into Anvil, for instance, we can see a blue variety, in Schizoid Man, we see a black version over a white jacket, etc. - thanks to BluRays, the fine details are fully visible.
Anyway, I will post (below) a photo of the best braiding I have found. This one is a white, 2.7 centimeter wide (a bit over an inch wide) braid custom made in Paris, France for a designer fashion show. Although the width is 2.7 centimeters, the fiber stretches quite easily when sewn-on as a fold-over, and one can easily gain one or two millimeters across, leaving an approximate 1 centimeter strip on each side of the jacket, since Melton wool has a certain thickness to its texture.
Costume designers apparently use a warm iron to create the fold on a cellulose braid and can also stretch it using the iron so as to help it adjust to the width needed.
In the case of #6, the strip cannot be much more than 1 centimeter wide because of the 2 button holes on the jacket. They cannot be covered-up and cannot conceivably be farther from the edge than 1.5 centimeter. If you count the vertical ridges in the braiding in the #6 photo below, you will find that there are roughly 8 vertical ridges which amounts to 1 centimeter's worth on the sample I found (see below).
This braid was created in the style of materials seen in a traditional 19th century military outfit. Most braids of this type are military.
The shop who created this braiding (Tre-Mode, Paris France) may be able to produce more of it but only in fairly large quantities.
Last edited by dustyroadz; Oct 31, 2015 at 7:54 AM.
ABOUT THE JACKET'S LINING, and other "inside details":
It is worth mentioning that although much is being said about the exterior features of the jacket, the "official Village shop" knock off also fails in mimicking the inside of #6's jacket.
In the episode "Free For All" the second shot of the film shows #6 hastily putting on the jacket.
If one stops the frame, one can see two interesting details:
1 - The jacket's lining is made of a silk-like fabric, whose color appears to be gray-mauve (again, depending on the light, we may arrive at some shade of gray that can be debated)...
2 - The sleeves are lined with white cellulose or cotton, as were many jackets in that era.
Last edited by dustyroadz; Oct 26, 2015 at 6:19 AM.
The original Prisoner #6 jacket. (Broken piping/"Notched" braiding version)
For what it's worth, this is a recent photograph of one of the original jackets fitted for Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner. This one was auctioned off in 2004. It is the monogrammed "P. Mc Goohan" made by John London in 1966, and presumably one of 4 or 5 that were tailored for the filming of the episodes.
Photoshop fans can easily sample sections of the color with the eyedropper tool and analyze the nature or the hues involved to determine what, in their view, is the proper color of the wool, since this photograph is shot under tungsten light and doesn't bear the warm grading of the TV show.
It shows pockets and seams rather clearly, and might help in identifying the correct texture, shape and proportions for anyone interested in copying it.
Last edited by dustyroadz; Oct 26, 2015 at 6:27 AM.
Tough ones, those.
Finding an exact button is always painful. Thankfully, this one UK dealer seems to have the exact button used on the Prisoner jacket.
Two hole buttons are rare enough, and they are usually used on children's outfits and women's outfits - rarely on men's jackets - the outer ridge and center 'dip' are an exact match to the ones found on #6's jacket!
There are two sizes - 2 buttons for the cuffs: 23 Ligne = 14.8mm = .559 Inches
And two for the breast boutonničre: 30 Ligne = 19.0mm = .748 Inches
These are more expensive than standard resin buttons since they are made of horn. The likely color is "dark gray"... though these are also available in 'navy" and "dark navy blue" or black, all of which can arguably be correct.
Last edited by dustyroadz; Oct 26, 2015 at 9:09 AM.
FOR NERDS ONLY: The Prisoner jacket braiding -- some final thoughts...
It was hard to finally locate the correct braiding for the Prisoner jacket, I thought I'd offer some further elements I used in order to help others who require more explaining.
This is all a bit nerdy, and I understand that most people might simply want to approximate the jacket, as they are not that obsessed with getting things 100% right, but for those of you who do, read on.
One of the most confusing things for me was the way the braided pattern appears to give-off different weaves depending on angles of vision throughout The Prisoner.
At times, I thought the principal pattern was that of a horizontal weave (like grosgrain ribbon) as in the photograph below:
At other times, I saw a crisscross pattern with a distinct vertical stripe created by the weave as in the picture below:
(Above: #12's jacket from The General)
But the rest of the time, I saw this:
(Note the distinctive pattern as it appears in this shot in The General)
The braid almost looks different in different shots throughout, yet, as #6 moves about a scene, it is clear that the braiding changes appearance and is indeed one and the same all through and through.
Furthermore, although #6's costume shows a braid that possesses a "shiny" fiber in some shots, it can also look dulled-out and matte in some other shots, which has led people to think that its color was off-white, bone color, or ecru.
Here are my conclusions, and it gets a little bit tricky:
I believe I was able to locate the proper fabric and pattern, but I did not know it for certain until I attached it to the wool jacket, after carefully folding-over the braid with a warm iron.
I discovered that the braid looks quite different, once you fold and sew it on, than it does when you look at it flat in the shop (This is very important).
And what's more, if you iron it too much, or too often, the viscose material gradually loses some of its shine and turns dull, with a look that begins, under electric lights, to resemble off-white cotton instead of its original viscose material.
(Viscose is a man-made fiber that uses tree bark to replicate a process similar to what worms do when they make silk - it is a very fine and delicate fabric which is heat sensitive and will turn slightly beige when exposed to heat repeatedly.)
Here's what I think happened:
For the first trip to Portmeirion, the initial jackets used for the location shoot had a continuous braid. The exteriors of several episodes were shot (at least the first 4) using that continuous design.
When, a month later, the unit returned to MGM near London, for whatever reason, the initial braiding was replaced with a "notched" style, using the same fabric (viscose). One of the possible reasons is that the continuous piping style is very hard to achieve and sew on properly and may have caused too many delays with the costume department whenever repairs or new jackets were required (keep in mind that this was still a fairly low budget shoot)... One of the indicators that this was done on the cheap is that the sewing job is quite sloppy in most instances if one looks closely at #6's jacket as well as others (fraying fibers in some episodes, less than straight lines, etc.)
It's a safe to assume that costume assistants spent many a sleepless night trying to mend the braiding as they were going through production.
So, for whatever reason, all the interior shots (done in studio) used the notched (broken) piping and for this reason, the first few episodes are mismatched between interior and exterior takes.
As the show progressed and the unit returned to Portmeirion, they evidently brought back the notched jackets this time, and for that reason, only the notched design appears in later episodes.
But the episodes did not all necessarily air in sequence, and this is where things get a bit complicated. In some episodes, like Checkmate, the braiding is clearly brand new - perhaps it has been freshly replaced and looks like this:
In other episodes like The General, #6's braiding looks all flattened out from excessive ironing and looks duller than the jacket of #12, which is clearly brand new and "shiny".
If you look closely at the above (first) picture, in the lower LEFT hand corner, you will see that the braiding on #6's jacket is dull and warmer in appearance than the braiding on #12's jacket (catching some frontal light) which, for the duration of the episode, looks brand new - the "shine" is evident whenever he moves. You can also clearly see (Pic #2 above) that the color "white" is reflecting the cool blue hues of the studio lights.
This seems to explain the discrepancy, and this makes me pretty confident that the exact braiding to look for is indeed made of viscose rayon, is plain white, 2.7 Centimeters wide, ending as a 1 centimeter wide piping once sewn-on, and looks like this up close:
These are the final results on a recently made jacket which is a near 100% knockoff except for the color which is "blacker" than the one in the TV series. The jacket I found was a secondhand Melton wool model, with the same narrow boutonniere narrow lapel, no vent, single breasted, 2-button hole, 3 patch pocket model from the '60s. I could not find a "charcoal-black" and settled for black.
The lining is also made of grayish-mauve cellulose. The inner sleeves were done with white cellulose material to match the original design:
The lad who sold me the elusive braiding is a small indie French supplier from Paris. I looked there because Paris is the Pręt-a-porter capital of the world, but you may find the same thing in any city, large or small - He sold me an end tail of some old stock, and for that reason, I cannot link you directly to a place you can purchase it "as is".
If you cannot locate any, and want to try and talk him into making more, contact me and I will put you in touch. When I asked, he said he could eventually create more, but would need to produce a minimum amount of feet of it to make it worth his while.
Voila! With the all the elements in the thread above, including perfect 2-hole buttons, you should be able to make a Prisoner jacket ranging from "close enough" to "spot on, old chap!"
Eat that, Village shop, with your sloppy "official replica" for tourists!
Last edited by dustyroadz; Nov 2, 2015 at 8:44 PM.