Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fashion in Films: W./E.


     Sometimes I feel like an old soul living in this modern world of Twitter, hash tags, and emojis. I believe the term that was used for this nostalgic-denial in the Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris, is called "Golden Age Thinking." Which is the "erroneous" yet albeit romantic notion, that a different time period is better than the one one's living in. I would've loved to have lived in Paris in the 1920s or New York City in the 50s and 60. I would've, without hesitation, totally worn proper white gloves everyday like Grace Kelly, walked around the city in my Givenchy and Salvatore Ferragamo confections like Audrey Hepburn, and I would've definitely donned a pillbox hat and tweed Chanel skirt suit like Jackie O. So it should come as no surprise that I'm a huge fan of time period movies and television shows (which explains my undying love for Downton Abbey and Mad Men.) And Arianne Phillips's work in the film W./E. is no exception -- it was phenomenal. 


headpiece by Stephen Jones




     I'm not a fan of Madonna at all, but I thought this movie was fantastic -- but then again you can never go wrong with a Weinstein production. The screen play was crazy good all on top of an amazing cast and fantastic costume design by Arianne Philipps. For those of you who haven't seen the movie (and if you have Netflix, watch this movie right away and then come back to read this blog post ready to discuss) it tells the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII and twice American divorcé and socialite Wallis Simpson. It was the greatest scandal of the time. The newly ascended King of England, Edward, abdicated his throne to be with the woman he loved -- basically, royal family drama and politics that he was forbidden to be with, let a lone marry, Wallis therefore stepping down and giving the throne to the second successor of the line, and his brother, Albert (King George VI, aka present day Queen Elizabeth's father, aka Prince William's great grandfather) So long story short, Edward gave up his throne to be with Wallis and then the rest of the story continued on with the movie, The King's Speech. The film is actually a lot more romantic and complex than my synopsis (it consists of a second modern day parallel story of a woman living in New York City named Wally Winthrop played by the actress Abbie Cornish) but let's just get to the point, the clothes! 





     First of all, the woman who played Wallis Simpson, the English actress Andrea Riseborough, did an incredible job playing this daunting role. It's almost too eerie how both women resembled each other so much and how well an English actress captured the demeanor, mannerism, and style of speech of an American woman who lived in the 1920s. But then again I'm sure Arianne Phillips's costume design easily helped her get into character and obviously lots and lots of research was done on her part. All of the ensembles that Riseborough wore in the film was exquisite -- the impeccable tailoring, the accessories such as the jewelry, the brooches, the fascinators, the gloves, and all other small details like the classic red pout and even her nail polish color --  all transformed her into Wallis Simpson in the flesh on screen. What's even more incredible about the costume design aspect of this film is that fashion houses like Christian Dior and Madeleine Vionnet recreated actual designs that were made specifically for Wallis Simpson. Wallis was actually a patron of the Paris couture house of Madeleine Vionnet in the 1930's. Her original orders are still held in the companies archives and recreations of four of those gowns were made by the fashion house exclusively  for this film. And the same goes for the house of Dior. Three dresses that had been previously made for the actual Wallis Simpson was recreated just for this film, which is incredible. Phillips also worked with the famous milliner, Stephen Jones, to create this one of a kind veiled (and horned! -- so appropriate for the scene when she was walking around town as the scandal of her relationship with Edward erupted in the tabloids) fascinator for the film along with jewelers Cartier and Alexis Bettar. The story is really good and the clothes are even better (over 60+ costume changes) so if you appreciate a good time period film filled with sumptuously designed period garments (and/or just love getting inspired by the fashion in films) or if you're looking to be transported to this incredible time in history and fashion for a couple of hours, then give this movie a go. I guarantee that you'll love it. 

Wallis Simpson on the Left and Andrea Riseborough on the Right



Love, KB

3 comments:

  1. OMG! I love this movie so much, especially the wardrobes! Very delicate and graceful.
    Perfectly enhanced the story, and depicted the persona of Wallis Simpson.

    Love your analysis, and this blog is just fantastic!

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