Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present, across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!
A cabaret dancer, a socialite, and a con woman. These are just three on-screen examples of women looking incredible in tuxedos and pantsuits. Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, and Cate Blanchett put a feminine spin on menswear spanning decades. The suit has also long been a staple of the red carpet for women, including Jane Fonda when she won an Oscar in 1972, Julia Roberts going oversized in 1990 at the Golden Globes, and more recently Evan Rachel Wood at every fancy event she has attended.On television, there have been a number of fantastic dedicated followers of the pantsuit trend across a variety of political, legal, and crime shows. Powerful women, power dressing. When Hannibal returned for its third and final season three years ago, it wasn’t just the titular character who dressed in the finest tailored suits. After surviving getting shoved out of a first-story window, Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) was ready to come up against the man who'd once shared her bed. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) wasn’t the one who almost sent her to her death, but he was the reason. He stepped over her broken body in the pouring rain as he made his super chill escape, not giving her a second thought.
Prior to this event, Alana’s signature style was dominated by patterned Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses. She was warm, idealistic, and nurturing. There was a brief kiss with Will (Hugh Dancy) and a full-blown relationship with Hannibal. She got stuck in the girlfriend role. Alana was the one who had the wool pulled over her eyes. She doubted Will. And then she got pushed out of a window.When Alana got out of the hospital, costume designer Christopher Haragdon ditched the jewel-tone wrap dresses and pencil skirts for a wardrobe inspired by her ex. And if you’re going to take anything from time spent with Hannibal, better his sartorial prowess than his penchant for human flesh. This was after Alana had learned the hard way that you should never accept homebrew from Hannibal. Pantsuits tailored to perfection in heritage check, stripes and bold red were in. It isn’t uncommon for someone to change something about their appearance after a bad breakup — a haircut, some new clothes. But the dissolution of this relationship altered Alana’s moral compass on a fundamental level, as well as her taste in clothing.
To get to Hannibal she had to start to operate like him, and manipulation is part of this. Boundaries are blurred. The pantsuits are part of this change, as her edges have hardened. She has been poisoned by Hannibal; there is no returning to the way things were. In “Digestivo” — which aired three years ago this week — Alana Bloom comes face to face with Hannibal for the first time since she made the decision to be brave in his hallway. She must make a compromise with the devil to save Will. This is after Will has told her: “You have to evolve, Alana. You have to spill blood. By your own hand or someone else’s.” The blood that is spilled is Mason Verger’s (Joe Anderson) in order to save Alana's girlfriend and soon-to-be wife, Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle). One aspect that Hannibal hasn’t completely destroyed is Alana’s capacity to love.A time jump of three years takes place between this and the next episode, which kicks off the Red Dragon arc. In that time, Hannibal, through his own choosing, has been locked up. Alana is the one with the keys. She is also married and has a child with Margot; Alana chose not to be blind as Hannibal had implored. Instead she sits with a pane of glass between them, talking over a glass of wine — his taste in the finer things helped pinpoint his Italian location — as beer is definitely no longer on the menu on account of the secret ingredient. Alana wears a scarlet ensemble for this encounter, a bold color to assert her dominance.
Suits are new to Alana’s closet; red is not, as it has always been part of her costuming palate. But it seems even stronger in the final season — a coat, a blouse, the color of her lipstick. In a show with this much blood, it is notable that both Alana and Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) are often clad in tones of crimson. It doesn’t just symbolize death. These women can’t be beaten so easily.
In the following episode, “... And the Woman Clothed With Sun,” a black and white blazer paired with white pants and a white vest gives off the air of a ringmaster or referee; at this moment, Alana is in control. This isn’t just any ordinary game they are playing. That particular blazer is also one of the more overt visual links to an item in Hannibal’s Italian closet. He is now in a drab jumpsuit, and Alana taunts him with tailoring.But this is not a danger-free zone. Hannibal reminds her of not only their intimate past, but also his threat to kill her. A promise made when he told her to leave the house of horrors in the Season 2 finale or suffer the consequences. Everything she has with Margot is a gift from him, or so he claims. Alana is the one who didn’t let herself drown in the insidiousness, the one who found Hannibal. Although Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza) has something to say about this through his lipless mouth, Alana knew exactly how to protect her life at the risk of his.
Hannibal’s escape in the series finale does pose a fundamental threat to her family. The last we see of Alana, she is making her way to a helicopter with her wife and son, leaving before Hannibal follows through on his promise.And if you are looking to get in on the suit trend without a hefty price tag, then you are in luck! There are a lot of options in menswear-inspired fashion, which has trickled down from the runway to affordable brands. Some are Alana-adjacent, including this bold striped number from Topshop; meanwhile, Zara has you covered in the scarlet department, as well as check.
If Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal were ever to make a return — here’s hoping — with a spin on Silence of the Lambs, Alana Bloom and her suits should come along for the journey. It isn’t safe for her to be back in Hannibal’s orbit, but if Clarice Starling needs an experienced mentor I can think of an impeccably dressed candidate — one who isn’t going to eat the dinner guests.