As the third season of HBO's gritty original Prohibition-era crime drama "Boardwalk Empire" draws to a close (Episode 12, "Margate Sands," airs Dec. 2), you can look forward to seeing bright red blood-spillage and costumes that sparkle as usual.
When I caught up with Emmy-winning costume designer John Dunn, he said the bright colors and deep gold tones will always factor in. "We're so used to looking at that period in black-and-white films and sepia photos. Not a lot of the original color survived the years. But if you take apart a hem or a seam in a vintage garment, you're like, 'Holy cow! Look at that color!' It was not a drab period at all."
Season 3, alternately costumed by Dunn and Suzy Freeman, featured some absolutely glorious numbers -- perhaps the best of the series. Several episodes actually hinged on what the characters were wearing and foreshadowed intrigue and skullduggery to follow.
In the season premiere, "Resolutions," Nucky (Steve Buscemi) and Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) throw a New Year's Eve party in their mansion with a gala Egyptian theme in honor of the recent discovery of King Tut's tomb. Celebrating on the grave of the 'Boy King' is fitting for the man who murdered one in the Season 2 finale.
Party entertainment includes Eddie Cantor and newcomer Lillian 'Billy' Kent (Meg Steedle), a well-heeled young actress who becomes Nucky's mistress. Throughout the series, as she floats from the stage to the love-nest, she's fabulously costumed in everything from Cleopatra gold to boudoir blushing rose. As usual, authentic fabrics and beads (nothing that did not exist in the 1920s) are used to get the proper period weight, texture, and flow.
Episode 7, "Sunday Best," takes place on Easter and most every man is dressed to the nines while the ladies and girls don their most elaborate, frothy bonnets. Freeman took center stage for this one, and she did a beautiful job running the gamut from a children's egg hunt in the front yard in the morning to men looking for treasure of another kind in Gillian Darmody's (Gretchen Mol) brothel by night. Gyp's (Bobby Cannavale) suit jacket, and a historical military hat on display, also figure prominently in this episode.
If you missed any of it, "Boardwalk Empire" Season 3, to date, is available on HBO on Demand.