Hannibal fans beware: within this post lurks a few spoilers.
The image of a young woman in a red riding jacket often brings one thing to mind, a ittle girl being tricked by a wolf disguised as their grandmother. The Red Riding Hood story dates back to the 14th century. In the original tale, the wolf serves up the grandmother’s flesh and blood to the little girl, who unwittingly eats it before climbing naked into bed with the wolf.
For those of us who grew up with an axe man to save the day, the image of the wolf bedding down a little girl with a belly full of cannibalised flesh seems carnal and vicious. This type of violent fiction is certainly fitting for a show like Hannibal which takes many of its visual cues for its macabre aesthetic from both art and the grim stories. Hannibal even takes on its own Red Riding Hood in Margot Verger, a young woman who has grown up under the abuses of both her father and her brother, both of whom are notable in the pork industry. Brother Mason has managed to raise a line of pigs that eat live human flesh and itches to feed Margot to them. Having grown up around the casual violence and slaughter of the slaughterhouse, he takes a sick pleasure in discovering new forms of violence. We come in, not to save the day, unfortunately, but to dress Margot.
For the pivotal scene in which Margot is presented before the flesh-eating pigs she need a red riding jacket. Of course, as cliché as it may initially seem to liken a vulnerable woman to Little Red Riding Hood, both executive producer Bryan Fuller and actress Katherine Isabelle take the Margot Verger character into territory that is anything but vulnerable. Despite a long history of being victimized by her brother and having a grim future ahead of her, Margot strives to not only survive but also supercede Mason. Even though she fears Mason and his intentions towards her immensely, nothing stops her from playing her hand at manipulation. Margot proves herself to be a surprising threat to Mason, even with her vulnerabilities. The riding jacket has a history, too. Riding jackets initially came into fashion for practical reasons -- so a woman could ride a horse astride. However, they remain a notable item in fashion history where women’s fashion styled itself so deliberately after men’s fashion. Equestrian hobbies like riding have always generally been out of the reach of the lower and even middle classes, given the expenses of stabling and keeping horses, so the riding jacket instantly speaks of the wearer’s place in the upper echelons of society.
To emphasize this, on Margot’s riding jacket, we elected to give it a fuller pleated skirt and embellish it with over twenty steel buttons stamped with a coat-of-arms. We also reflect Margot's dark side with a contrast collar in black cashmere. Hannibal’s costuming director, Christopher Hargadon, paired the jacket with a white turtleneck and had the jacket buttoned up completely giving Margot a prim yet stifled look which emphasizes her discomfort in the scene with the man-eating pigs. Even though that discomfort doesn't last too long.
As Hannibal fans would know… this little red riding hood will be taking her revenge on the wolf very soon.