‘Domina’: How Italian Sculptor Antonio Canova Inspired Wigs and Hairstyles in Roman Drama Series

‘Domina’: How Italian Sculptor Antonio Canova Inspired Wigs and Hairstyles in Roman Drama Series

MGM+’s “Domina” actress Joelle goes by one name like Madonna and Cher. She steps back in time this season and into a Roman world, post Julius Caesar as Tiberius’ wife Vipsania.

In the series, Joelle worked with the hair and makeup team to create a look fitting for the show’s themes, death, manipulation and a battle for control over the city.

Through her looks, a story was being reflected.

Speaking with Variety, Joelle, who has appeared in “Dune” and “The School for Good and Evil” says, “In the beginning, Vipsania is at her most innocent, she’s young and in love and hair department head Claudia Catini chose a playful golden red wig for the first three episodes.” Together they collaborated on her evolving look and most importantly how to incorporate the actor’s natural look (the actor was diagnosed with alopecia universalis at the age of 8 and is an ambassador for the British charity Alopecia UK).

In episode 6, a defiant but helpless Vipsania, desperately in love with her husband Tiberius remains trapped, but needs to regain control of her fate and her husband’s fate as Augustus (Matthew McNulty) puts out the order for Tiberius to marry Julia (Liah O’Prey).

Joelle says she and Catini dove deep into the history books. “We learned that Romans preferred to cover up baldness with wigs and dye their hair. Vipsania is no exception.”

In private scenes with her husband, Vipsania removes her wig and when out in public, she wore wigs. Catini says, “My inspiration for her look came from the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova and, in particular, from his work, ‘The Tree Graces.’” She was also inspired by paintings of Roman women and would incorporate looks that included parting in the middle and a bun made of braids.

In those moments when Vipsania is with her husband, the wig came off. Says Joelle, “This is where she is her true self and so doesn’t wear a wig.” She adds, “It was important to show these two sides of Vipsania, how private her and Tiberius’ relationship is, and signifies how deeply they love and care
for each other. This also added another layer of Vipsania being an outsider of society and not believing in the usual conventions of Rome.”

Costumes also helped narrate Vipsania’s state of mind as her husband is forced to make a choice about his future and whether he bows to Augustus or not.

Gabriella Pescucci, the show’s costume designer, built all the gowns from scratch. She also curated the jewelry, which was inspired by nature. Says Joelle, “She wears dragonflies, snakes and frogs, as she dreams of escaping the city.” Those animals were incorporated into her costume choice which start off bright. Adds Joelle, “Over time they get darker, as she loses control of her fate.”

A post shared by Joelle (@joelle)

Joelle is a member of Equity in the U.K.

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