B5 Costume/Prop Ramblings
I’m a bit obsessed with costumes and props, and more specifically with the artistic inspirations and processes of how they get created.
Nothing about Londo’s look should work, yet everything does. That cannot be an accident. Something specific has been bugging the hell out of me since I started watching this show. See that big decorative-looking bit on the right- hand side of Londo’s coat (Londo’s right)?
It’s too grand to be inspired by an ordinary broach/ cloakpin.
It’s still there when he switches to his black coat:
Alien though he may be, his costume designer definitely was not, and that thing looked maddeningly familiar to me. And I think I’ve figured out why.
See this guy:
That’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand. His assassination started WWI. That thing on his chest is called a breast star. It marks the bearer as having been awarded an order of chivalry generally to do with some sort of meritorious service.
Here’s another fellow from a little further back in history:
He’s Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. If you’re American, you have probably heard of him. He was a Major-General of the Continental Army in the American Revolution. He also wrote an incredibly dull manual of military drills I hope you never have the misfortune to read. But look just there on his chest, a star of some order or other.
Now this fellow here is Frederick the Great, who developed Prussia into a powerful state. He’s wearing one too. His is, I believe, an Order of the Black Eagle.
I have only been able to find one breast star with a gemstone in the centre:
This is the star of the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun.
As you can see, the exact design of the ‘star points’ and the central disk varies widely, but generally it’s all the same idea.
And better still, in solving the mystery of why Londo’s ornament looked so familiar, I just happened upon this:
This is Frederick the Great’s actual waistcoat, tunic and bicorn, and doesn’t it just have the most fascinating silhouette?