July 24, 2015
Ever since King Tutankhamun’s nearly intact tomb was discovered in 1922, the world has been fascinated with the legacy of ancient Egypt.
Now “Tut,” a three-episode series on the Spike network chronicles the young king’s dramatic rise to power. Starring Avan Jogia as King Tutankhamun, Ben Kingsley as Ay and Sibylia Deen as Ankhe, “Tut” was a massive undertaking that required more than 6,000 costumes, said Costume Designer Carlo Poggioli.
“It was my dream to do Egyptian costumes,” said Poggioli from Rome.
He has been a frequent visitor to Turin’s noted Egyptian museum, Museo Egizio, and has held a lifetime fascination with the country’s ancient history. The exacting documentation of Tut’s tomb was a precious resource for the designer, who painstakingly handcrafted jewels, fabrics, shoes and more.
“In the Turin museum, you can look at the real fabric. I tried to use the real fabrics, that for them was linen, and some gauze and cotton that you have still today. Probably the difference is they pleated everything,” he said. A team of six women worked morning to night for months to hand-pleat the fabrics. “You can see the results. It is not an industrial thing. I tried to respect the way that they made the costumes at the time,” he said.
To achieve the appropriate colors, about 80 percent of the fabrics were hand-dyed. “We were dyeing and aging every day for months,” he said. “You can see that all the colors, that they are really natural.”
Poggioli aimed for authenticity.
“For the armor of Tut, I copied exactly his real armor,” said Poggioli, who marveled at the system of overlapping pieces that helped repel swords.
“I couldn’t believe when we made it, but by following the real stuff that I saw at the Egyptian museum, or in reference books, we reproduced a real thing…a system that worked.
“If you look carefully, you see that they are one on top of the other, but in the end, the armor is very light…which was very practical. The actors could move very easily,” he said
Armor is an important element of Tut’s war costume, which consists of leather strips assembled in a vest with extensions to protect the shoulder and groin. A pleated tunic is underneath and a leather, wide-collar necklace anchors the neckline.
For the bulbous war crown, Poggioli had ample sources.
“I took inspiration from the real one that you can see in many, many references about Tutankhamun. The crown design was also on the wall of the tomb of Tut, and I found many sculptures of Tut with this war crown,” he said.
Everything except some of the enameled jewelry was made in a huge Moroccan workroom — shoes, armor, fabrics–even gear for the horses.
“Of course, we did use a little bit of fantasy. We have to tell a story to an audience. You have to add something, of course,” he said. So Poggioli built in comfort, sex appeal and practicality to the many draped, wrapped and effortlessly light tunics and gowns.
“I want the audience, when they look at the film, to say, ‘I want to wear that.’”
“Tut” aired on Spike and is available on Amazon Instant Video.