John Merritt III
Costume Designer · Crafts Artisan· Wardrobe Supervisor· Stitcher

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HENRY V: BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE 

A Theoretical Class Project by John Merritt III

Design Statement 

After analyzing the text of another William Shakespeare play, this one proved to be different from the other ones I've read. Initially reading, I was immediately inspired by the thought of The War of Roses, its historical setting, and the Battle of Agincourt itself. I started studying landscapes, the actual site of where the battle happened, and I became mainly inspired by artistic accounts and paintings of the battle itself. I became inspired by a specific painting, that depicted Henry V bravely speaking to his army before going into battle. I was mainly inspired by the colors of the painting. The obvious blue and red of the coat of arms between the English, but the background battlefield, the sky and the landscape. The darker earthy colors also spoke to me along with colors from other paintings, that show the horrific aftermath of the war. These colors were very distinct that I incorporated them into my color palette of my final designs. In terms of fabrics, I was drawn to very textured fabrics and thicker fabrics that would have been used at the time. These fabrics, have the earth-like quality to them, that I associated with the characters. I incorporated these nature themes among the costumes to imply that everyone was directly affected by the war, and the outcome of what happened after. 

Conceptual Research 

Inspirational Paintings of Henry V speaking to his troops 

Henry V

Concrete Research and Rendering 

Catharine of Valois 

For Henry's costumes, I wanted to historically represent what he would've worn in battle, and afterwards. I spent hours digging up books that represented him in paintings, and drawings. The battle armor, sporting the coat of arms for his kingdom, and the armor that comes along with it. For the wedding, I chose a shorter houppeland (with parts of his armor still on)   The fabric consisting of the houppelande is very textured and the palette corresponds to the historical paintings in my conceptual research. The red fabric is the sleeves underneath the houppelande, that function more of a bishop sleeve. 

Concrete Research and Rendering 

For Catharine, I researched actual paintings and prints of her to get an idea of what she actually looked like. I decided to put her in a long dagged houppeland in the beginning of the play that has a strong red floral print to it. I decided to go with red in the beginning to signify the bloodshed that happens in the war, with a feminine floral motif. For the wedding dress, I decided to have her wear a white (with small floral detail) cotehardie and a green surcoat over the top. This goes along with the whole natural elements that are within the characters that i expressed in my color palettes. 

King Charles VI and The Dauphin

Concrete Research and Rendering 

After understanding a little bit better of King Charles VI, and The Dauphin and what they were about, I had a solid idea on how to approach them. I was drawn to the whole fiery concept of The Dauphin, and when he mocks Henry V with tennis balls. So I found this thick apholestry fabric that looked reminisicient of flames and searched out the hat that looked like flames. As for King Charles, his behavior did remind me of his son, but I incorporated deep reds within to signify bloodshed. 

Lord Grey, Lord Cambridge, and Lord Scrope

Concrete Research and Rendering 

For Grey, Cambridge and Scrope I decided to render them as a trio because of them being singled out as a group, as they betrayed Henry V. I researched royal court members and decided to put them in different sizes and styles of houppelands. This color palette I strongly associated with the second painting in my conceptual images. This painting, shows all the fallen soldiers on the ground, either wounded or dead, and the strong colors along with this painting, specifically of the ground, I represented in the trio. The colors of this ground, symbolizes their death in the play. 

Archbishop of Canterbury and Duke of Exeter 

Concrete Research and Rendering 

The Bishop of Canterbury, or historically known as Henry Caville, I based on real historical accounts with him also. The Duke of Exeter, I researched common men who were affiiliated with court and based my research of of him. His houppeland is ankle length, and based my color palette from the paintings in my research.