History-Inspired Costuming?

I really don’t like talking about the film versions of “Marie Antoinette” or the TV show “the Tudors” because for myriad reasons, but they ARE guilty pleasures of mine. Dislikes? That takes a long time. Why do I still indulge? That’s easy…they are visually stunning to look at and require no brain power. Besides, I did mention guilty pleasure, no?

It’s the costumes that I love the most. I know I’ve mentioned this before. Anyway, this week has been filled with easy posts because of my jury duty obligations. [wretching noise.] So I thought we’d have some fun doing a side-by-side comparing a few costumes with the historical documentation that surely inspired them.

this coiffure for the 2006 Marie Antoinette film was clearly copied from the French Fashion Caricature: the boat pouf

(left) Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resources (right) “Marie Antoinette” Sony Pictures, 2006.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Boat Pouf in the 2006 Marie Antoinette film was clearly copied from the French fashion caricature: Coiffure à l’Indépendance or the Triumph of Liberty (ca. 1778).

The following two side-by-sides are not such clear-cut copies, but they do bear a enough resemblance to make you think. Check out the bustle on the dress in the sketch and the bustle on Kirsten Dunst’s costume. (FYI, no irony here, that kind of bustle is referred to as a French bustle.)

the dress bustle inspired by 19th century sketch?

Switching away from Marie Antoinette for a second and going back to (what I feel like is becoming) the buzzword of the blog: kokoshnik. I couldn’t figure out some of the early costuming choices for Anne of Cleves on The Tudors. Exhibit A: Why does it appear that Joss Stone is wearing a kokoshnik? Was this intentional? What she’s wearing fits the definition of a traditional kokoshnik even more than what Grand Duchess Xenia is wearing for the 1903 Ball.

Grand Duchess Xenia and Joss Stone: Kokoshniks in "the Tudors"?

Ok, so they’re not exactly the same but you see where I’m coming from. It seems to be kind of a leap to just deck her out in Russian headgear. If anyone knows of a Germanic version of a kokoshnik/French hood, feel free to correct me.

Now we’ve come to my personal favorite. Instead of making a dress to match a portrait or a sketch, the costumer on “Marie Antoinette” did this:

marie antoinette's bedroom at Versailles and the wallpaper dressMarie Antoinette movie wallpaper dress

She had fabric made to match the actual wallpaper in Marie Antoinette’s bedroom in Versailles, then made a dress of it. Well, we don’t know if it was the costumer’s idea or Sofia Coppola’s but it’s much more visually striking in the film…or maybe I had a better photo of it once upon a time. Either way, I thought it was a pretty nifty idea.

What do you think? What other historic films with eye-popping costuming are your favorites?

About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
This entry was posted in Films, marie antoinette, period fashions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to History-Inspired Costuming?

  1. Great post. Great-looking post! It’s fun to compare the shots. I’ve always loved the costumes in “The Wings of the Dove” (1987) film (based on the book by Henry James). It was directed by Iain Softley and featured Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, and Alison Elliott. It’s a beauty. Sandy Powell was the costume designer. She was nominated for an Oscar. T. (I’ve always loved the boat pouf. Maybe I’ll create my own version. . .)


  2. Pingback: Throw Your Own Marie Antoinette Birthday! « tiaras and trianon

  3. Pingback: Windsors Aren’t Seth MacFarlane’s First Royal Send-up | tiaras and trianon

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