Any Human Heart: A look at the style behind the show

I blogged a few weeks ago about how excited I was about Channel 4’s adaptation of Any Human Heart. Unfortunately, mere days after I’d written that blog, Virgin Media canceled our TV and Internet as part of an almighty account cock up. Every day I came home and stared at the blinking AP:52 screen (it’s the screen of doom) on our box, wondering when television would once again be a part of our life.

Missing Wagner was bad enough, but missing the only tv series I’ve been excited about in months? It sucks. What made it even better was the fact that both Andy and I said on several separate occasions, ‘oh well, we can just watch it online later’, only to remember that this option wasn’t available either.

Anyway, last night a hero of a technician (he said, “you must have wanted to kill yourself without the internet” – how did he know?) came around, and made everything better. The first thing we did, then, was watch Any Human Heart.

And, as promised, here are my thoughts on the styling. Be aware; spoilers ahead – but only for episode one!

The first woman in Logan’s life is Tess; his best friend’s girl. She is supposed to be a simple, slightly comely country girl, and her first proper scene in this floral tea dress pretty much spells that out, particularly when presented against the red brick cottage walls and ivy. English Rose to the core.

Here’s Tess breaking it to Logan and the boys that she’s pregnant. She’s still the simple country girl, and while it’s 1926 and the fashionable types are running around in cloches and feathered headbands, she’s wearing a different type of hat. It’s cloche-ish, but tweedy with a floral trim, and a lot less sophisticated than the women Logan will soon be socialising with.

In Paris, Logan sleeps with Anna, a prostitute in a maison de tolerance. She’s meant to be Russian and a lot older than him; hmm, not sure on this one, but she certainly has the courtesan feathered gown down.

Land Fothergill is Logan’s first love. A sophisticated Oxford undergraduate from a wealthy, intelligent family. Her sharp bob and of-the-moment cloche hat separate her from Tess, and demonstrate his changing taste as he grows older. She’s not a classic beauty, but smart, funny, and unlike any women he’s come across before.

Here’s Land taking in Logan’s first flat. Her camel knit dress even matches the wallpaper, and let’s just take a moment to admire the bob. And sneer.

Hanging out with the smart set, Logan soon finds himself enjoying a weekend in the country shooting, hanging out in a library, talking politics etc. Here he meets Lottie, an Earl’s daughter who is a bit, well, dumb. She’s a naive character (to start with at least), and this frou-frou girly dress, cardigan, and pearl combo reinforces that. Even her hair at this point is a bit, well, simple. However she takes a shine to Logan and then…

At dinner, she looks like this! My interpretation is that she wants to impress Oxford-grad, well-to-do Logan, and dresses like the women she thinks he socialises with. It’s a true flapper style, but feels just a hint try-hard. And note the pearls – not the ropes the flappers wore, but still a demure, safe, string.

Logan marries Lottie, and off they go on honeymoon. It’s a seemingly blissful scenario, but I think we can afford to read into it. Lottie appears, looking a bit mermaid-y, with her original long blonde curls, looking like the simple child she is. Couldn’t be much more different to Land – Logan’s first love, and the woman he dreams about when he’s in bed with Lottie.

Here’s Lottie shortly after giving birth to the first Mounstuart offspring. Even though she has a nanny to do all the work, she’s still adapted a very matronly feel to her look. The blouse is unflattering and plain, and even her hair feels ‘set’.

While working abroad, Logan meets Freya. Soon to become his next conquest, she’s a world away from Lottie too. Although she doesn’t look like Land, she’s a serious brunette, who puts her career before everything else. Contrasted against plump, mumsy, Lottie, at home in the country with a baby, Freya easily fits the mysterious, chic, other woman mould. I love the quirky little accessory here – can’t remember exactly where this scene is set , but it’s somewhere hot and abroad and they’re both in the British embassy; yet she’s got a fascinator with a pom pom. Not quite what you’d expect from this cool BBC researcher.

Even though she’s a modern, career-minded woman, Freya still wears gloves and a floral dress, and lets Logan light her cigarettes. Is she is as modern as she likes to think??

At a BBC event with Freya, Logan bumps in to Land. She’s just about to join the Labour party, and as if we didn’t need reminding that women in politics are BOOOOORING, she now has drab plaits and a tweed blazer. Is this a big glaring clue as to why she turned down his engagement? Bit anvilicious, to me.

Hey, got the message that Logan doesn’t fancy Lottie any more? How about a bleak, cold house, her in an another matronly outfit, and a camera angle that makes her look like his mother? And if all else fails, the next scene when he couldn’t get it up in bed might give you a clue.

A quick note on Logan’s Uruguayan mother. She’s more on-trend than anyone with her stiff, deeply fingerwaved hair!

Gillian Anderson plays Wallis Simpson, who Logan has his first meeting with early on. She’s portrayed as all the things she was said to be; unattractive, charming, and sexually aggressive. This sharp golf outfit and eye contact-destroying dark glasses just about do it.

Logan spends Christmas with Lottie and family, and she’s opted for quite a chic look. It’s sort of like she’s back in control of things, but also, again, feels to me like she’s trying to be someone she isn’t – especially as she’s back in that saccharine peachy shade, in an era when the bright young things were being risky and wearing black for the first time.

And so we come to the end of episode one. Logan is off to cover the Spanish Civil War, pretty much risking his life just to get away from Lottie. Freya comes to see him at the station in an interesting outfit. Her long hair is up and she’s wearing a man’s hat; is she in disguise, in case anyone sees them together, or is this outfit her and the wardrobe department’s way of saying she’s his masculine equal? She works hard in a career she’s good at, and isn’t begging him to stay like Lottie does – she’s tough and she’ll deal with it.

HMMMMM, many issues, many outfits, many hairstyles. As with any TV show, are they actually trying to tell us half the story through wardrobing, or am I just reading too much in to it? You tell me. Roll on episode two, where we should get to meet a few more interesting folk.

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