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 had a look at the prisoner shop, unfortunately they dont do an XL version which is what I would need.
I notice the colour quoted for their blazer is black. I understood it was actually dark brown as mentioned in this link.
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 25, 2012 at 11:26 PM.
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.
(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.
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 double breasted melton wool jacket with a properly sized boutonničre lapel, and boutoničre 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 match, but their materials are very synthetic. There are several potential problems with this, not least of which that this sort of polyester material breaks up and loosens easily.
Generally, a synthetic piping will also not look very convincing on a melton wool jacket which is very "classical" in texture.
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 pattern on the piping from the series:
Last edited by dustyroadz; 1 Week Ago at 5:55 AM.