Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Costume Proof - The Duchess


In response to my last post on the film The Duchess, the specific costume pointed out from the UK article and the comment posted, I wanted to offer up some corresponding references that designer, Michael O'Connor, might have used for this particular costume.

I'm really liking the 1780s. I guess this comes from my first love of the 1870s Bustle era. So the blue bodice and fluffy cream skirt just took my breath away. One costume I'm dying to re-create is the green striped bodice and embroidered cream skirt as seen in Fashion by Kyoto Costume Institute.
This photo above is from their on-line gallery. In the book it is beautifully displayed with a cream sheer skirt embroidered at the hem and a tall black and green hat. You can tell from the display in the book it is very similar to what O'Connor created for Keira (blue jacket and cream skirt).


Now, in my research, I have not seen too many skirts/petticoats (as worn with bodices) with the overskirt and ruffle like you see in The Duchess. Most have been single layer. One could confuse the look of the movie costume as being a Chemise a' la Reine (see below) with a bodice worn over it to look like a jacket. But it is definitely a bodice and separate skirt with a fichu over her neck and tucked into the bodice.

Chemise gowns of the early 1790s were white, fluffy and airy - close to how the movie skirt is made up.


When I flipped through several pages of the Kyoto book, I quickly noticed that most of the bodice/skirt combinations were dated c.1790. So that clearly makes the costume circa 1790s too.

Another good picture from the book shows a blue silk embroidered jacket over a cream sheer skirt right next to a pink silk gathered neckline jacket over a striped cream sheer skirt. Both could have been used as inspiration for the film's outfits.


For further study, please look into the Kyoto book for more references to this look. If you find more examples of this particular design, please share!

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