Red Baron, White Scarf

Probably one of the most iconic “looks” is that of the aviator/aviatrix: leather jacket, shearling collar, flying helmet & goggles, and white silk scarf:


It’s associated with figures from Amelia Earhart to Snoopy. But did the knights of the air really wear exclusively white scarves? According to the costume designer of The Red Baron (2008), whom I would certainly assume to have done her homework on the subject, there was much more variety.

As you may recall from previous posts, I am something of a jacket aficionado, to the extent that certain films tend to get classified by me as “jacket movies”. The Red Baron could easily fall into this category…. The leather jackets! The uniforms! But even more than these, what stood out to me costume-wise was actually the scarves.

So, given that it’s been a while since I did a Wednesday Woollens, here is a post on a “scarf movie”!

Check out this shot from early in the film:


(If that’s not a Style Snapshot, I don’t know what is!)

Scarf-wise, yes, it’s true that our “hero” (or at least our protagonist, since the allegiance gets rather murky with an ambiguous figure such as Von Richthofen) is wearing a white scarf. And interestingly, it’s not silk – at least not flat silk – but rather some sort of delicate knit:


However, it was his compatriot’s scarf (below, on the left) that caught my eye:


That just begs to be copied by a knitter!

Here’s another knitwear beauty, this one worn by Richthofen’s friend, Werner Voss:


With regard to Von Richthofen’s iconic white scarf, it acts as something of a “talisman” in the film, being referred to and passed around by Manfred himself, his sometime-nemesis Roy Brown, and the nurse who – in this fictionalized version – does all kinds of anachronistic things like [*spoiler alert*] walking brazenly out of his tent in a dressing gown, and standing in the field for all to see. (Pretty careless of her reputation, for a woman in 1918!)

Interestingly, though, it’s not the white scarf that becomes Manfred’s favourite flying accessory, but rather a red-white-&-blue one:


My co-viewer and I attempted, unsuccessfully, to determine whether this scarf is also hand-knitted, as the others so clearly are. If so, it’s a much finer knit, as the stitches aren’t visible (although the end tassels are).

What I found curious was the idea that the Red Baron would wear the same tricolour emblazoned on the wings of the British & French planes:


(Yes, that’s Joseph Fiennes.)

I wondered if perhaps this was intended to convey the cinematic Von Richthofen’s growing sympathy for “the enemy”, as evidenced in his speech late in the film, denouncing the entire conflict and claiming that all the warring nations are equal? How I wish that had been the case with the historical Von Richthofen! But apparently this film took various liberties with historical accuracy, including creating this fictional meeting between Von Richthofen and Brown:


Excellent opportunity to wear one’s tricolour, if nothing else!

And since this post is knitting-centric, I would be remiss if I failed to point out the gorgeously textured wool sweaters worn by both Von Richthofen and Voss:




Happy Woolly Wednesday!

~ costume designer: Gudrun Schretzmeier ~

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