From M. Night Shyamalan, Servant follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home. Starring Lauren Ambrose, Toby Kebbell, Rupert Grint, and Nell Tiger Free.
Dorothy Turner (Lauren Ambrose), Sean Turner (Toby Kebbell), Julian Pearce (Rupert Grint), and Leanne Grayson (Nell Tiger Free).
The film Ali: Fear Eats The Soul by Fassbinder, and explosive pattern-on-pattern. Bold choices in palettes and patterns were created for each character to either contrast the key location of the home, or feel like part of the furnishings and house setting. Palette and pattern parallel their psychological journeys within the home, one that they never quite leave during the course of the series.
THE LOOK IN A FEW WORDS
There is a heavy, moody look to Servant that also feels theatrical. Heavy handed and texturally exaggerated, heightened, rich, and saturated fabrics are either in competition with the house, or feel like a part of the house, all depending upon the moment.
SYMBOLIC WARDROBE MOMENTS
Dorothy's shoes. Dorothy would never take her shoes off in her own home and has a very traditional mentality about always looking good, even at home. She needs to project the sense that everything is perfect, and part of her armor includes having her shoes on at all times. She takes up space and makes noise when she walks. In contrast, Leanne is often barefoot in the house. The clothing in the attic helps tell the story that the house has been in the Turner family for almost 100 years; it's an odd mix of family clothing through the decades. It represents Leanne's forlorn desire to play dress-up on her own terms, after having been forced to be in pageants during her youth, and it also represents Dorothy's desire to dress her, seen in season one. Leanne always wears a glass and mustard seed necklace that represents "the smallest kernal of faith" according to the Bible.
THE COLOR PALETTE
In seasons one and two you see jewel tones and golds, with colors getting brighter and patterns getting wilder in season two. Yellow has symbolism in Jericho's onesie when he died, and Dorothy when we first meet her is wearing rich marigold. Yellow book-ends the color story, and everything else in between is saturated and textural jewel tones. Leanne has a very different palette in pale, pallid pastels and neutrals.
THE PRINTS + PATTERNS
Patterns and palettes were created for each character. Where Dorothy can be an extension of the wallpaper, Leanne is faded and wispy. Patterns always start with florals, and there are a lot of 1960's-style patterns. Dorothy’s costumes, distilled into their purist form, are comprised of florals. Her floral patterns either "bloom" or are staid, given her circumstance. Fruit patterns on Dorothy are also very symbolic. Leanne has almost no pattern at all, and if she does, it's a very sweet polka dot. In contrast to Dorothy, Leanne is almost completely devoid of pattern. Julian has a lot of plaids and tattersals; large scale paisley. Julian's love interest Natalie is hippie-chic and aspirational, with a lot of Etro pattern. The Turners are very east coast in their palette and texture, and Natalie has a West Coast kind of whimsy. As mania and moral ambiguity builds, it's pushed through the pattern in season two.
The series is very textural overall. For Dorothy, a lot of sheen, silks, satins, fabrics that catch the light; velvets. Leanne is gauzy, knits, with houndstooths, mohairs, wools that feel 30's. Julian is cashmere; Sean is "relatable" cottons.
KEY ITEMS + ELEMENTS
Leanne always wears her charm necklace of a mustard seed, as well as capes, ponchos, midi skirts, and pleated skirts. Dorothy sports strong florals, vibrant coats, bold and patterned dresses, and a lot of velvet—-reminiscent of the furnishings you'd find in her home. Sean is buttoned up with a bit of motorcycle and rock and roll, and is all about denim--in both jeans and aprons. Julian is accessories-focused. He never takes his scarf off, and there’s always a pocket square.
Coats act as an accessory for Dorothy, and shoes are key for her. Leanne always wears a necklace. Sean wears a denim apron. Julian is never without a scarf or pocket square.
THE BRANDS + RESOURCES
Liberty Of London fabrics, Etro, Ganni, Ted Baker, Splendid for pajamas, Erdem, Miu Miu, J. Crew, Brioni, Isaia, and more.
Prior to Servant, M Night Shyamalan was pattern-shy, so the use of pattern was an exciting pivot for him as a storyteller. Lead character Sean Tucker is a chef who works out of his home, the key location for all of Servant. For a scene in which a pregnant Dorothy Turner is craving fried calamari in bed and she turns to husband Sean to supply her snack, series Chef Consultant Andrew DiTomo prepared the dish, which went on to become something that Executive Producer and Director M. Night Shyamalan loved and consistently asked for while on set.
NOTES ON THE PROJECT
"I love finding the humor in and the humanity of the characters in this dark story. The actors' characters make a lot of bold choices, so it's been a lot of fun to see the them get excited when I make bold choices for them too". -Caroline Duncan
HOW TO GET THE LOOK
Spice up your tops, and wear them paired with jeans and sneakers. Find them in bold jewel-toned color and pattern, with a pussy bow collar. Wear a coat that makes a statement. In contrast...simplicity: cardigans and sweaters with sweet lace collars. Buy lace or velvet trim or grosgrain ribbon and add it to an old J. Crew cardigan. To channel Sean, cuff your shirt and roll your jeans for his clean look. To get Julian's look, wear fair isle and dress in layers--mix, match and clash your patterns.
COSTUME DESIGNER CAROLINE DUNCAN
Caroline Duncan most recently designed Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed, Emmy nominated series, When They See Us, and M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV+ series, Servant. She has two upcoming Universal films due out this year, Shyamalan’s Old, and Cat Coiro’s Jennifer Lopez film, Marry Me. Duncan graduated from Yale University with a degree in English, and subsequently earned a degree in Fashion Studies from Parsons School of Design in New York. She started in the costume department working on such films as The Lovely Bones, 27 Dresses, and Little Children. Duncan has designed multiple televisions series, including Rescue Me, Royal Pains, NYC22, and 666 Park Avenue. Her film credits include J.C. Chandor’s Oscar-nominated film, Margin Call; James Ponsoldt’s Off the Black; and Dare, directed by Adam Salky. Duncan designed Showtime’s critically acclaimed drama The Affair, the pilot for the popular Showtime series Masters of Sex, directed by John Madden, and American Odyssey for NBC. She also designed the USA series Falling Water, New Amsterdam (pilot), and NBC’s Rise.
Food has a presence like a character itself in Servant, particularly in season two. The recipe below is one of many created for the series by Chef Consultant Andrew DiTomo. This dish created for a scene in season two, episode 3 reminds us that calamari is truly crave-worthy.
From Chef Consultant Andrew DiTomo of AppleTV+‘s Servant
3/4 cup squid
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup 00 flour or AP flour
1/4 cup rice flour
4 tbl cornmeal
salt to taste
1/3 cup whole leaf Italian parsley
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 ea garlic clove
2 tbl Huy Fong chili garlic sauce
1 tbl chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste
grapeseed oil, enough for frying
To get things rolling, make sure to rinse your squid under cool running water and remove any hard piece of chitin found inside the mantle. Cut the mantle a.k.a. the tubes into half inch rings and mix back with the tentacles.
Take your now cut tubes and tentacles place in a bowl and pour the buttermilk over to marinate. They shouldn't really be swimming in buttermilk, just enough to coat. Put the marinated squid back into the fridge and let chill for at least 30 minutes.
While your squid relaxes in the fridge, break out another mixing bowl and combine your flours and set aside, make sure the bowl is large enough to have room to mix in. Start heating up the oil in a high walled, heavy bottomed skillet. There should be at least at inch and a half of oil so that you can achieve a deep fry. Use a thermometer and heat your oil to 350°F, be sure to take it slow and be super careful.
We are also going to whip up our sauce real quick in the middle her too. In a mixing bowl, add the mayo, chili sauce, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. Then, grab a microplane and zest the garlic into the sauce. Mix all together.
Once your oil is up to heat take your squid out of its marinate and place it into the flour mixture. Now, here's the fun part, mix the squid into the flour mixture making sure that the flour gets into every little nook and cranny of the squid. Make sure none of the little tentacles are sticky together and all the insides of your beautiful rings are generously coated.
Now for the frying. Take the squid out of the flour and shake off any excess flour. Using a slotted spoon or a kitchen spider gently lower the squid into the super hot oil. After 15 seconds make sure that the pieces are not sticking together. Allow to fry for 2-3 mins or until the squid becomes golden brown. Have another mixing bowl ready and as soon as the squid is looking good and ready, strain it out of the hot grease and allow the excess grease to drip off and then dump into your mixing bowl. Quickly season with salt and the whole leaf parsley.
Plate your fried calamari in a beautiful serving dish and serve it alongside your sauce and maybe a few lemon wedges immediately.