MIPTV: 'The Collection' Producer Talks Amazon's "Sexy As Hell" New Fashion Drama
Ahead of its MIPTV debut, Lookout Point CEO Simon Vaughan discusses Oliver Goldstick's upcoming series that dives into the "evocative world" of late 40s Paris.
Among a number of high-profile British period dramas taking a bow at MIPTV, The Collection — being shopped by BBC Worldwide — perhaps arrives with the most impressive wardrobe.
An ambitious eight-parter delving into the world of haute couture in post-WWII Paris, the series comes from Lookout Point, most recently behind War & Peace, and is a co-production between France Televisions and Amazon Prime, marking the streamer's first original U.K. drama.
Ahead of its MIPTV debut, The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Lookout Point CEO Simon Vaughan about swapping the Napoleonic battlefield for the fashion studio.
Lookout Point has been behind the Ripper Street series and — more recently — the acclaimed War & Peace. What was it about The Collection that sparked your interest?
It gave us chance to do something that’s got that real artistry, creative intelligence… it’s politically thoughtful and at the same time it’s really fun and entertaining. It’s written by Oliver Goldstick, the showrunner who writes Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty and Pretty Little Liars. These are smart, sassy, fast-paced American style shows. So it’s doing an American-style narrative with the craft and the class and the sophistication of a quality period drama. To me it feels like a bit of an interesting fusion.
There was a period show on U.K. TV in the early 90s — The House of Elliot — about the fashion industry, but there hasn’t really been anything since.
It’s interesting. Sometimes the best ideas are right there in front of you. It’s interesting that nobody had really tackled this for a really long time. Fashion and people’s veracious appetite for fashion is probably bigger than it’s ever been. But it isn’t really about fashion — the fashion is the backdrop. It’s about family and it’s about loves and losses and rivalries and ambition. It’s about all those human emotions and qualities. And ultimately it’s about great writing and characters, set against the backdrop of fashion. My hope for it is that it transcends fashion. It’s just a great drama, told on a big ambition canvas that’s sexy as hell. Who doesn’t want to go to that evocative world of Paris in the late 40s?
How big are the hats?
The hats are big! And the trick is that it’s not all about the hats.
I’m assuming there’s scope for more after the initial eight-part first season?
We hope so if all goes well. Like all returnable series we hope that it will run and run. I think Oliver has a vision that goes out to five season or more. So we’ll see.
You teamed with the Weinsteins for War & Peace. How did this deal come about?
I like to try and find things that are constructively disruptive. Not just for the sake of it but to move the conversation on, to get on the front foot of the way that drama is being financed and to think about the next move. Getting Harvey on board War & Peace… he wanted to get more involved in TV and War & Peace was a project that he loved.
War & Peace was very well received critically. Was it a financial success?
I think it’s worked out very well for BBC Worldwide, from a sales perspective. But we were very proud of the way that people responded to it, that we could produce an epic period drama, shot in Russia, with Napoleonic armies and not go over budget and not blow our brains out. It was a success in that sense.
What else in on the cards for Lookout Point?
The next big event piece that were doing, with Andrew Davies who wrote War & Peace, is we’re just starting to develop Les Miserables as a TV drama. It’s back to the book, it’s Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, no singing, no dancing. Not that there was dancing in the film. And that’s an event mini-series, but we're in early stages.