Dancing on the Edge follows the story of a jazz band as they pursue their dreams in the famed aristocratic world of London in the 1930s. The series is highlighted by the dazzling costumes that help showcase the band’s journey from their humble beginnings to their wild success. Costume designer Lindsay Pugh, who is known for her work as costume supervisor on Closer (2004), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Quantum of Solace (2008), approached the ambitious project with all the excitement in the world.
Pugh prepared for the shoot by diving into the world of 1930s’ society. She poured over history books and especially found relevant inspiration from the era’s photography. “For that time there are some incredible photographic imagery because photography was popular, but not so massively popular at the time that there were lots of useless images. All the photographs were just perfect,” said Pugh.
The color palette was brilliantly used as a tool to help tell the story. In the beginning, as the band is starting out, the colors are darker and grittier and the color range is cool. As the band becomes progressively more successful, the color range moves to a more jewel tone base. Pugh painstakingly fleshed out each character’s journey through their costumes, and she enjoyed seeing her work pay off on the screen. “The thing that is exciting about costume design is its ability to tell the story. One of my favorite moments is when we first see the band and they’ve just come off stage and they’re hot and sweaty. They’re enjoying a drink and they’re ratty and undone. I loved to do that because it tells a story.”
All six episodes of Dancing on the Edge were shot at the same time due to the tight budget. This massive undertaking was a challenge that Pugh embraced. “It was eight hours of film that we had to take into account, and be prepped for, and be ready for, and have designs for,” she explained. “It was hard to plot for everybody, all of these different stories, all of these different character arcs, from beginning to end and be ready for each one at any time with quite a short prep time.”
The global search for the perfect costumes was another challenging area. Pugh traveled all around the world, from Italy to Canada, searching for the right costumes to dress every character in a way that made them stand out and appear distinct.
All the challenges involved in the project brought Pugh and her team closer and built a sense of camaraderie among the group. The working experience was a highlight that especially inspired her. “My fondest memory is my costume team, because we worked so incredibly hard and I thought it was very humbling to have all these people who were very skilled working so hard and so happily to an end. That was a tremendous gift.”