untung99.biz: The Surprising Secret of the Costumes on Tom Jones

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When Hazel Webb-Crozier first landed the job designing costumes for Tom Jones, the new adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel airing now on Masterpiece on PBS, she thought her biggest hurdle might be learning to work with 1700s fashion. “I had never done an 18th-century piece before,” she explains. “So, it was exciting for me, but I had to do an awful lot of research just to know what it even was they wore.” But that wasn’t her trickiest situation by a long shot.

Once the designer figured out just what she’d need to clothe the actors in director Georgia Parris’s story, it was clear she’d need to borrow period-appropriate pieces—suits and gowns for London and the countryside, wardrobes for the highly born and not so much—from a costume shop. But there was a problem: “While we were shooting, there was another big period piece that had gone into production, so we had a bit of a panic,” Webb-Crozier explains. “I was sitting home thinking what on earth are we going to do because we can’t get these dresses anywhere, so I thought let’s try making them.”

Costumes on Tom Jones, like this one worn by Sophie Wilde, were often made by hand by designer Hazel Webb-Crozier, who taught herself the era’s styles.

Steffan Hill

Thus began Webb-Crozier’s journey to make, well, almost everything for the cast of Tom Jones. The project wasn’t exactly easy—pandemic-related delays and quarantines for actors meant limited time for fittings, and the designer and her team were learning about making period costumes as they went—but to hear her talk about it now, it was worth every bit of worry. “We were sewing the whole time,” she says. “I really never stopped, but I loved every minute of it.”

Hannah Waddingham plays Lady Bellaston on the series. “She was able to wear really bold colors,” Webb-Crozier says, “and we could go mad with the decoration on her clothes”

Steffan Hill

Of course, the difficult part wasn’t just making the costumes by hand but making sure each was appropriate for the character wearing them. Sophie Wilde’s character, Sophia Western, was meant to float across screen and dress simply, even in a time when more was considered more, and Hannah Waddingham’s Lady Bellaston was there to pick up the slack. “Hannah is very elegant but also very tall, and nothing worked off the rack,” the designer explains. “We made all of her dresses because we had to. But she was able to wear really bold colors and we could go mad with the decoration on her clothes. Sophie was supposed to be simple and not too fussy, that era was fussy so went to town on Lady Bellaston.”

Many of the pieces worn by Solly McLeod, who plays Tom Jones, were created in triplicate since the filming of the series would give them so much wear.

Courtesy Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece

Dressing the men, she says, was easier—except for star Solly McLeod, whose title character needed each of his costumes made in triplicate. “He had to have triples of everything because his outfit stays the same for a long time, and the pieces would get dirty,” she explains. “We also had to break the pieces down to look lived in or washed out.”


With the series on the air now, and her own costumes soon to be available to others who might want to use them for film and TV projects, Webb-Crozier’s glad to have earned her expertise in the period—bumps and all. “It was a difficult job in a number of ways, and the actual making of the costumes is something I would never do again,” she says, “but I’d love to work more within this period. I know it inside out now.”

Adam Rathe is Town & Country‘s Deputy Features Director, covering arts and culture and a range of other subjects.