Withnail & I (1987) - 30th Anniversary
Bafta & Emmy Award winning Film Designer
October 2017 is the 30th anniversary of Bruce Robinson’s cult film Withnail & I, starring Richard E Grant and Paul McCann. Alongside sterling performances by the two principle actors features the iconic coat devised by the Bafta and Emmy award winning film designer Andrea Galer.
The inspiration for the family background for Withnail came from Antonia Fraser’s 19th Century frock coat which belonged to her great grandfather. Only worn by members of The Scots Guards Club, established in 1810 and woven in colourful but subtle Scottish tweed.
The Hattersley Domestic Loom was the mainstay of the Harris Tweed Industry for the best part of the 20th century and a few still remain in use today.
Introduced after WW1 it helped ex-servicemen who had lost hands and arms to earn a living through weaving. Its rate of production was superior to the wooden hand looms that preceded it and was capable of weaving more complex patterns.
The loom was powered by foot treadles and the shuttle was thrown automatically as the tweed was woven. The first 30 of these looms arrived on the islands in 1919, of 36 inches reed space and single shuttles and was added to, with the first six shuttle, 40 inch red space looms which arrived in Stornoway in greater numbers in 1924. It is this version most commonly used loom in the islands and in use today.
Basically, no two looms feel the same to weave - they all have distinct personalities and sound - and this is where their charm comes from.
In the mid 1960s Crofter Tweeds were brought out by a Stornaway Orb spinner. This move by an Orb spinner/manufacturer of single width tweed constituted a new dimension in the industry if he were to improve imitation Harris Tweed double-width.
“It was Bruce Robinson’s brilliant script which led me to design the costumes to create a sense of deep love and hate for tradition to reflect Bruce’s vision.” Andrea adds.
To celebrate 10 year after the film was released in 1996, Andrea Galer decided to reproduce the Withnail Coat when 10 years after the making of Withnail & I became a ‘cult classic’.
About Andrea Galer:
The BAFTA and Emmy award-winning costume designer was born in Cambridge and lives in Archway. She is a film-maker with 30 years’ experience in fashion for film and TV. She designs garments for her fashion label Andrea Galer and offers a ‘bespoke’ service on items based both on Period and Contemporary designs.
Her film and TV credits include Mansfield Park (1999), Bleak House (2005), Jane Eyre (2005), Garrow's Law (2009) and Whitechapel (2011), Dickensian (2015). The Lady Vanishes (2013) and The Politician's Husband (2013), both BBC mini-series.
Further afield, Andrea is involved with installations and exhibitions, including Pink Floyd’s “Their Mortal Remains” exhibition at the V&A, London. She also produces films and events which celebrate arts and crafts using her fashion collections, costume design and historical knowledge. Andrea’s “Dressing For The Way We Live Now” has exhibited at a variety of beautiful locations across the country such as Fenton House, Haddon Hall, Ham House and The Jane Austen Centre. Within these projects Andrea promotes the ‘nurture and support’ of British manufacturing and its artisans, whose skills are rare and constantly undervalued.
Notes for Editors:
Andrea Galer set up Coat Tales to fulfil the demand for bespoke replicas of the iconic coat Withnail Coat with buyers from around the globe. Price £1,500.