Moe Ferrara writes for Bleeding Cool;
A few weeks ago, Bleeding Cool ran an article entitled “Do We Give A Crap About Captain Jack’s Coat“. It got me thinking, especially as a costumer, the costumes are something I pay attention to and do care about. As a response, I decided it was only fair that we have the other side of the coin… Why we *should* give a crap about Captain Jack’s coat.
Because I’m a costumer and a cosplayer, looking at costumes is something I do… even without thinking about it. My first reaction, when I heard about the new costumer, was wondering what was going to happen to Captain Jack’s look.
I think it’s safe to admit Jack has an iconic look with his RAF greatcoat and braces. Even last week at the BFI launch of Torchwood in London, one of the Q&A questions was if Jack was still wearing his braces (suspenders for the US folk) so people do care about costumes. If you know Torchwood and Doctor Who, you know Jack. Jack’s first Doctor Who appearance was in full military dress and, while he changed costumes during his travels with the Ninth Doctor, once he was turned immortal, the greatcoat became part of his look. I know when I think of Jack, my iconic image is him atop a building in Cardiff, greatcoat waving in the wind. Even when I cosplay Jack, if I slip the greatcoat off (face it, an all wool coat inside a convention centre is a bit warm), only the hardcore fans still recognize me. Put it back on, and it’s instant recognition.
Certain characters become iconic. There are some of us who, when we think of the Doctor, automatically think of things like a long scarf, celery on a lapel, or a long brown coat and converse. Other fandoms have the same iconic images. It wasn’t that long ago that Wonder Woman had a new look and even one who doesn’t follow Wonder Woman heard the outcry from some who disliked the new look. Even more recently was the bru-ha-ha over the new costume of Superman. In other words, people do care about the look of characters they love and dislike seeing that look changed in any way, shape or form.
Suffice to say, when a character has taken on an iconic look, there are people who do care about what happens to their characters when a new designer takes over. I, and more than a few of my friends, waited for the first on set photos to be released with bated breath. We did care if the good captain would be wearing his greatcoat or if he would be wearing something completely different. It was nice to have the information about the new coat released (even if the historian in me takes issue with the distance between the individual strips of rank braid on Jack’s coat) as a way of telling the fans who care, “don’t worry, the coat is safe”.
On a personal note, as a cosplayer, and one who primarily does Jack Harkness (face it, who wouldn’t want to ‘do’ Jack!?), the moment I heard there was a new designer, my first thought was the coat. I have, over the years, spent countless hours scouring eBay and charity shops to recreate the costumes by the original designer, Ray Holman. I waited to find out if the new designer would keep that same iconic look created by Holman.
Yes, I was relieved to see Jack still in the coat. While the new coat has been taken in at the shoulders and is made of a different material, Jack Harkness will still be able to stand on top of a building, his greatcoat flapping around him in the wind. And let’s face it, Jack wouldn’t seem as much the big damn hero without the coat flapping as he runs after the bad guy.
Moe Ferrara is a cosplayer from the US and UK convention circuits. She is the former costume assistant at the Erie Playhouse and is currently in her third year of Law School. She loves Doctor Who, Torchwood, and any sort of fantasy you could throw at her.