Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dressing the Captain

After writing a post about Vivian Drew's attire, I would be remiss if I did not address that of Captain Hook. (And if she throws mugs at me to get her post, I don't want to think what he might do.)

J. M. Barrie mentions the captain's ruffled lace collars and his hair, which was "dressed in long curls, which at a little distance looked like black candles, and gave a singularly threatening expression to his handsome countenance." And he describes Jas. Hook as adopting "the attire associated with the name of Charles II, having heard it said in some earlier period of his career that he bore a strange resemblance to the ill-fated Stuarts."

Hook as pictured by contemporary artist Maxim Mitrofanov.
I can't find the year he  illustrated Peter Pan, or worse,
how to get my hands on  a copy of the book.

Ah, Charles II, the "merrie monarch" who took the throne after the puritan reign of Oliver Cromwell, who rescued the tradition of playing cards and reintroduced the celebration of Christmas as we know it today. And whose tenure is wonderfully summed up by Mathew Baynton in BBC's "Horrible Histories" (watch and sing it for hours, and then watch the rest of the Stuart episodes, and after that, just keep going through the many eras of Britain's history).

At first it seemed obvious that James would wear a red coat, but the more research I did, the more I realized this was a later convention, and one not necessarily adhered to by contemporary artists, either. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the first depiction I've found of Hook in red is by Roy Best in 1937, a look popularized by the 1953 animated Disney Peter Pan. Before that Captain Hook was depicted mostly wearing blue, and sometimes gray. Aha, I thought--red coats must be for battle. And so, in The Stowaway, they are.

Anne Graham Johnstone's Hook, 1988

Bilious green, I'm afraid, was too unflattering to be a serious option, as no doubt the Captain figured out for himself early on.

Peter Pan playing card issued
 by Pepys in 1910 with art by
Charles Buchel, 1904

The Captain would also have quickly found knee breeches with stockings and buckled shoes impractical for working on board a ship, and I see him trading those in fairly quickly for sturdy trousers and knee-high boots. Yet he would continue to revel in his brocade waistcoats and full-skirted coats with their ornate embroidery and deep cuffs to better display the the lace ruffles at his wrists. Vivian Drew points out--rightly--that James's wardrobe, elaborate as it is, rather resembles a uniform. He cannot disagree. Yet, within those parameters, he is every bit the clothes horse he encourages her to be.

And while this is not directly related to my research into the clothing choices of Jas. Hook, I can't close this post without sharing the art of Charlotte Whatley in her unusual and delicious steampunk paper doll version of Peter Pan.

There. Now I've shown James in his underwear too. Happy, Viv?

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