The Gormenghast Collection: The Prunesquallors' Wardrobe
Doctor and Irma Prunesquallor
John Sessions, actor:
I'm like the March Hare, in a very Wagnerian costume: with a smoking jacket and a certain chino-Victorian touch to the whole thing. The wig is a cross between a Brillo pad and Bobby V, who was a marvellous singer from the early 1960s. It just plonks on like an old tea caddie, and it is glued on. The make-up is very basic, I slip in some teeth and I put some glasses on.

Fiona Shaw, actress:
... There is a bit of Irma Prunesquallor in everybody, I think. She is that person turning to frustration... her features are not enough to carry her entirely through a glorious life. I think that she behaves well in difficult circumstances, with a brother whose every second phrase is 'How ugly you are!' in some form or another. The best thing that literature or films can do now is to be compassionate, and I really hope that this is. Before we filmed every scene I read the chapter of that scene. The detail is phenomenal, and there is a kind of innocence.

Odile Dicks-Mireaux, costume designer:
Fiona stood so that her nose stuck out a lot, and her neck... in the book it's all about her swan-like neck. We tried to emphasize all her features. And so she became much narrower and much more upright.
View Peake's original sketch of the Prunesquallors

Detail of Irma Prunesquallor's Dress
Odile Dicks-Mireaux, costume designer:
[Irma's] dress with the embroidered parrots is a specific dress in the book. There is an illustration of it with thousands and thousands of ruffles around her neck. We tried to recreate that feeling. It was the dress of all dresses for Irma.

Irma's Trusty Hot Water Bottle
Fiona Shaw, actress:
I gather Mervyn Peake was very fond of Irma. He certainly writes her very well... To make herself beautiful she pads herself out with a hot water bottle. People are driven emotionally to doing terrible things physically. But there is something much more innocent and much more sensible about using a hot waster bottle than getting plastic implants put into your breasts which we do now. That's saved Irma Prunesquallor thousands of dollars. Who is madder -- Irma Prunesquallor who puts them in for one night of enhancement, or these people in Hollywood, or wherever, with their implants?

Doctor Prunesquallor
Odile Dicks-Mireaux, costume designer:
He was a bit of a dandy, slightly more effete. But I think his colors go with everybody's else's. He has a sort of purpley Chinese waistcoat and then a kind of golden one for his vest and then a black one for when he's a doctor -- darker when he's doing his doctoring. But he's a bit of a peacock really, isn't he?

Some text excerpts courtesy of HarperCollins Entertainment, The Art of Gormenghast by Estelle Daniel (2000)

 Costume Design:
Fuchsia | Lord Groan | Gertrude | Prunesquallors | Steerpike | Twins

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