The Collection: historical drama will captivate fashionistas and historians alike
The Collection series launches the first of seven episodes on Masterpiece PBS, tonight at 10pm! Don't miss the chance to see Tom Riley's tortured but talented Claude Sabine.
What makes the eight-episode The Collection ideal escapism is its devotion to serious glamour and understanding of the allure of refined style. Its main theme is fashion rescuing France from the trauma of war. Throw in the secrets and betrayals and dark hints about a dead body buried somewhere, and you have the perfect circumvention of the present, this alarming time of horror, strangeness and dread. The Globe and Mail
“The Collection,” set amid the resurgent fashion industry of postwar Paris, will become a guilty pleasure for many once it starts rolling down the runway, zipping, tugging and pulling itself together. Wall Street Journal
In preparation for his role as Claude, Riley told TV Drama Weekly that he attended a few fashion shows. While there, he discovered that fashion was “more than just something that’s thrown away every season” and came to appreciate that “there is a real craft … an art” to the intricate work of fashion design.
The artistic spirit is what propels Claude, though his wavering confidence and sporadic devotion to his work make promoting the family business quite the challenge for his brother. The family dynamics truly take precedent in “The Collection,” as Paul puts the family’s reputation above all else, often suppressing the defiance of moral and societal norms in order to protect the family’s name. Claude doesn’t make this easy for Paul, as he struggles, in Riley’s words, with being “such a tormented little individual.”
Claude lives up to the tropes of the struggling artist, all the while being a modern man worthy of empathy, given the restrictiveness of an era still largely bound by traditional expectations and not yet ready to accept, for instance, Claude’s homosexuality, which must be kept undercover. Meanwhile, Paul’s burden lies not solely with being his brother’s manager and caretaker, but also struggling to establish his own identity through leadership, given that his own success lies in Claude’s talents. In this sense, both brothers, despite their squabbles, need one another if they are to ever leave a lasting mark as an iconic Parisian fashion house. Beyond the history of fashion, “The Collection” touches on the lasting effects of World War II in a still recovering Paris. The distrust and secretive nature of the war lingers amongst the citizens of the city, who find themselves constantly analyzing every pen and person to determine wartime allegiances. Acts of survival become devout signs of national betrayal as Paris regains its footing and longs to purge itself of all remnants of a Nazi-ensnared Europe. Different characters struggle with their own secrets of the war, and look to justify — or bury — their actions, and an ambitious business must tread lightly to excel beyond rumors and toward a lucrative future.
Fans of “Masterpiece” can rest assured that this latest addition to the PBS lineup is an exquisitely welcome one. “The Collection” offers the familiar esthetic and feel expected of the network’s other period dramas, while at the same time transforming preconceived notions of post-war Paris. The in-depth, heightened focus on the rise of a fictional fashion house provides a gateway into the transitory nature of Paris’s social classes, where entrepreneurial spirit slowly snuffs out the advantages of old money. The modern feel of this historical drama will captivate fashionistas and historians alike, when “The Collection” makes its way down the PBS prime-time runway starting Sunday, Oct. 8. Sentinel Record