The Queen’s Gambit was one of the surprise TV hits of 2020. Not least because the Netflix mini-series achieved the unlikely feat of making chess stylish, addictive and very, very cool.
One of the major factors in the show’s irresistible appeal to a wide audience was its evocation of the looks and fashions of the 1950s and 1960s, the period in which it’s set.
So we’re very proud indeed that the man responsible for all the hair and make-up in The Queen’s Gambit was Daniel Parker, one of the directors of TattooedNow!
The series tells the story of Beth Harmon, an orphan who discovers a phenomenal talent for the ancient game of chess and – spoiler alert! – overcomes her humble beginnings and battles with alcohol and drug addiction to beat the best in a male-dominated world.
Her journey begins with young Beth sporting a micro-fringe. Daniel’s research found plenty of old photographs of kids in orphanages who were given this hideous haircut.
As Daniel told the British edition of Vogue magazine, the way Beth looked was essential to the plot. “She goes from being baby Beth to grown-up Beth. The make-up and hair had to tell that story.
“They have to age her; to show her becoming more mature; her becoming an alcoholic drug addict. It’s the make-up and hair that you see in all the close-ups. If that’s wrong, if it doesn’t move forward correctly, then it won’t work.”
One of Beth’s most striking features is her glossy bright red hair, which marks a huge departure from the original novel on which the series is based, in which she is a brown-haired girl.
It's a switch for which Daniel can claim the credit. “It came from reading the script. To me, she was always a feisty redhead. The funny thing is that when I met the director, Scott [Frank], and said, ‘There is one thing, I think she should be a redhead’. He said, ‘Absolutely, I agree’.”
As Beth grows up and becomes more confident in herself and her extraordinary ability to win games of chess, her looks change too.
She exudes an old-school glamour that was inspired, says Daniel, by some of the most iconic movie actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
“The main inspiration behind Beth’s hair was Natalie Wood. You also have Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall, and the sleekness and beauty of Grace Kelly.
“It’s a wonderful era – the powdered look, the eyeliner, the lips, the blusher that’s put on really beautifully. It’s perfection without being overly made up.”
One of the most memorable scenes in The Queen’s Gambit sees Beth applying eyeliner really badly, a move that betrays her desperate mental state. As Daniel told Marie Claire magazine: “It’s really difficult for make-up artists to do make-up that’s meant to look bad. It goes against the grain.”
But that attention to detail is what makes Daniel one of the most sought-after make-up artists in the world – and it’s behind the work he and his partners are doing to boost the reputation of TattooedNow! to new levels.
In fact, you could say his work on a series that’s given chess a new high profile proves he’s king of the castle.