Back when the movie came out I said that the frocks were really the star of the film, and seeing them in the material confirms that opinion – they are indeed gorgeous, which you can see for yourself at The Dressmaker exhibition at Rippon Lea House (until 31 July).
The costumes were largely designed by Marion Boyce, who is also the costume designer for the Phyrne Fisher television series. As with those costumes, the joy is in the details – the swing of a jacket; the shape of a collar; the buttons and button holes; the contrasts of fabrics and colours; the marvellous use of colour. And then there are the accessories – the period jewellery; the glorious hats; the handbags. Marion must be the ultimate bower bird, collecting such beautiful things from around the world and hoarding them until the right ensemble emerges.
The other costume designer involved is Margot Wilson, whose credentials include a host of great movies – Bran Nue Dae, The Road, Jindabyne, The Proposition, Lantana to name a few. Margot designed the wonderfully seductive outfits worn by Tilly (Kate Winslet) – my favourite being this one:
The audience was 100% female, all oohing and aahing over these glorious creations. You could tell the dressmakers amongst them as they inspect each garment in minute detail and can be heard muttering to each other about the stitching, the drape of a skirt, the fabric.
If you love a good frock, and appreciate the transformative power of clothing, don’t miss this exhibition.