While there were compelling stories on big screen this year, A lot of period films made to the forefront. From50s to 20s to mid 1800s from various geographical areas and timezones made this year quite a reflection on the past century of how the fashion has evolved over time. Transformations, character arcs and even playing pivotal roles in stories and narratives, clothing is one of the outer reflections that help judge the audience what the director wants to convey about a certain person on screen.
The 50’s period drama is not the contemporary 50s that we saw in Revolutionary road, yet it evokes the similar realism that the characters crave in their lives. The high life socialite Carol’s wardrobe is laced with pastels, fur jackets and polished dresses, quite the contrast to the young upcoming photographer Therese who keeps it simple, age appropriate and sometimes a bit awkward (which goes completely with her character). The Academy award winner Sandy Powell referenced quite a bit of early 50s body hugging silhouettes, as opposed to Dior’s ‘new look’. From the costumes one can pretty much feel how the clothing itself has a certain air of restraint esp. for Carol and the societal constraints she had to adhere. The devil lies in the details that the designer comes up with, the pointed bosom, the hips, the certain waist were all finer details that deserved a second look. The execution of the dress worn by Carol during the women’s first interaction..the fur coat, pink hat was executed to perfection brought out to life from the book flawlessly.
THE DANISH GIRL
Eddie Redmayne makes for a much more beautiful woman and the whole journey of going through the procedure, clothing played the crucial role within the story. It was infact a silk garment that triggered Elbe’s journey towards Lily. Lily was usually polished to the nines with drop waist dresses yet flattering to the figure. Kudos to Paco Delgado who achieved that using vintage fabrics, dresses and references. He makes the transitions from sharp suits to flowing dresses seamlessly. From dutch to Parisian, the clothes did reflect a certain freedom and a more fashion forward candour within the look. Elbe’s wife was quite the contrast to her husband Lily. More free, unrestricted and had a certain bohemian air about her even within the galm 20s jazz age. Her looks were more carefree compared to the careful put togetherness of Lily. Providing a beautiful contrast, the story definitely has how something as clothing can play such a pivotal role in finding oneself.
From animal hides and jackets to native americans and their look, the costumes for this story of a fur trapper had many layers (literally) from furs to wools and leather, the movie demanded a research within an unmarked territory and costume designer Jacqueline West comes through with flying colors. The authentic grizzly skin, the bear…fake bear grease, were all present. She created close to ‘twenty different iterations’ of the costume worn by Leo, within various stages of deconstruction, that is when the bear attacked him and how it would rip, and reconstruction, how Leo’s character would have done a crude job of stitching it together. The process, reminded me of how Sabyasachi made different stages of same costume for Aishwariya during Raavan. Jacqueline used different animal for every character relating to their backstory giving them a sort of persona, while telling a story of humans and animals and their survival against Nature.
The other spectrum from Carol’s fifties, is the movie Brooklyn. Set in the fifties, the movie’s costumes display the costumes of its young lead complete with Dior’s new look. The cinched waist, the fuller skirt with the perfect ‘tea length’ hemlime, Saorise Ronan explores them all. The coming of age story of a young immigrant, is very visible from her few clothes that she packed for her trip, to how her wardrobe moves from utilitarian pieces to gradually include her brighter surroundings in form of prints and color in her wardrobe. The designer for the film, however was also aware of the young woman’s economic conditions in the post war era thus, one saw many repeated outfits, gradual changes and mix and matched pieces of the lead.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
The adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel, might not be the best one, but does give us more than the usual corset dramas that we are used to.The heroine Bathsheba Everdeen sports quite a few statement pieces from 1880s (even though novel is set in 1870s), her silhouettes are much more sleeker and streamlined for a no nonsense farm runner. The embroidered gown after wedding, the long buttoned coat she wears when running away to marry are more noteable pieces. However, she wears a variety of Victorian gowns in plaid and prints to suit the rural setting. Her three suitors, with their own characteristic are styled to suit just that. Boldwood prefers darker suits, Oak is the rugged scruffy strong farm guy in rough peasant garb and the Troy in his military uniform or a very sleek dandy striped suit. For most part Bathsheba is styled very rustically with her braided her that works for her farm lifestyle with occasionally formalling it up.
The one murderous scottish play that I had been waiting to be adapted for quite a while after Maqbool, was this Shakespearean adaptation. The prime reason, the actors. But more so, it was the cinematography and the costumes that took my breath away here. The stylish adaptation of the 17th century play of the murderous scottish pair, has stark and textural costumes by Jacqueline Durran. Creating one of the most enigmatic palette in costumes this year, Durran’s reference point was primarily informed by the scottish landscape and basic forms , paring things down to elemental pieces, with basic shapes and tapping into the core ideas of clothing to then suit the characters. The Dark ages, medieval period and Vikings also served as prominent references fr the male cast, esp Duncan, the King and for Macbeth it was a mix of samurai shapes and T shaped garments. For lady Macbeth however, a woman laced with superstition, her outfits as queen were usually in raw material with ‘little to no embellishment.’ Only during her coronation does she wear white beaded roasaries and pear headband. Most of her outfits have pleating – the basic form of ancient embellishment. The Cartridge pleating, a chunky hand pleating was widely used with a neutral color palette from black to cremes. The designer and her team kept things simple to show the geographic nature of these people being primitive and distant from the rest of the world, but with very intense layered personalities of this volatile story.
A movie about fashion changing lives and Kate Winslet had to feature on my list (sue me for being a biased fan :P). The costumes featuring Australian attitude, Parisian haute couture influences in 1950s Australia is a worthy study by Margot Wilson. Creating the impression from the onset when Tilly arrives in the town of Dungatar, ‘My design- Dior inspired’ sets the tone of the movie. Tilly is worldly, sensual with perfect hair, lips and shapely curves in gorgeous dresses, makes her the perfect accent to the earthy tone of the people of this wheat belt town. Tilly is a well informed fashion woman. As much as she knows about Dior, she knows about Vionnet and Balenciaga. Tilly herself was more structured with strong silhouettes and bold colors – a dressmaker who moves into being portrayed as a designer putting her own spins to the regulars. Tilly’s rich brocades, broderie anglaise, delicate french muslins and thrilling skills, helped her transport the people of Dungatar out of their tea colored palette, one piece of haute couture at a time. A full effect seen during movie is when women around town are going about their everyday business in head to toe, haute couture. It is glamour with capital G. Kate Winslet winning an AACTA award and a Museum displaying the movie’s costumes for an exhibit speaks for its success.
With such hyped expectations, I was quite a bit disappointed to be honest by Cinderella’s wardrobe. Ever After did a much better job with Drew Barrymore in that department. There Cinderella was much more headstrong than here – Having courage and being kind just does not cut it. However it was Blanchett that made the most of her wardrobe and flaming red hair styled and sculpted to perfection. Her butterfly skirts and silk blouses enhanced her form and gave her the sleek vintage appeal of a vamp. The fuller skirts in embroidered and jewel tones helped blanchett play the deliciously evil lady teramine without batting an eye lid.
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