If you take into consideration how many of today's films that are most notable in fashion for their costumes are set in the 18th century it is surprising how this era often seems overlooked. Of course, with it being such a long time ago it is difficult for a modern woman to relate to every aspect of life back then but it is still recent enough for it to not be entirely alien to us. It would of course be a struggle and a huge set back in women's rights if we went back to living how they did in the 1700s . The class divide was huge, but the wealthier females (the ones who the films tend to be about) would have worn corsets everyday and large skirts that would often leave scarring like the wedding dresses in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. The fashion goes against everything Coco Chanel stood for but there is still such a storybook fairytale like intrigue with 18th century style. Practicality aside, there is such a magical ambiance around an extravagant (if not entirely uncomfortable) 18th century gown.
Marie Antoinette and The Duchess; two modern film interpretations of two influential, interesting women in the 1700s. They are both too similar. They marry a rich man with a title and lead miserable life due to this man. Women are so suppressed by heavy gowns and society's rules that there is nothing Marie or Duchess Georgiana can do about their situation. They remain rich girls in pretty clothes, who lead scandalous lives that make brilliant 21st century movies. Of course, it is the clothes that really make them so brilliant. Marie Antoinette is written and directed by Sofia Coppola in such a glamorous way. It really is modernized but not in a tacky ruin-the-whole-story kind of way but a chic, fabulous way. From the opening scene of luxury with modern music to the mischievous way that Marie Antoinette is portrayed; it has all the ingredients for an award winning film. And that it was with an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design among others mostly for either costume design or directing/writing. The Duchess is much to do with fashion because Georgiana was very much an 18th Century British style icon. She was witty and intelligent and always setting the new trends. I have bought the book of The Duchess and will let you know when I have read it. I am hoping that her love of fashion will lead to vivid description of costumes like the ones in the film.
There are two ways in which to channel the modern 18th century woman. A bit of a contrast right? How do you blend today's women with a woman from 300 years ago? Well, the first way is the maxi gown. These have been abundance for the past two years now and this season is no different. Luxurious fabrics and rich tones are the most opulent and upper class. Think couture gowns like these beauties from Alexis Mabille, Maxime Simoens, Dior, Elie Saab and Armani Prive. I think it is fair to say that Dior is the gown guru. Ever since the world famous "New Look" Dior has been building up its collection of gowns. Coco Chanel hated the label because she brought back everything that she had fought so hard to get rid of; corsets, extravagant dresses etc. Coco Chanel might be legendary and inspirational but she could not get between a girly girl and the allure of a fabulous gown.
The second option for 18th century dress code is slightly more pro feminism. The 1700s was when pirates were at large (cue the next movie to discuss; Pirates of the Caribbean.) The below catwalk photos are all actually from 2007 but they provide general swashbuckling style inspiration for when you want to find your inner pirate in a more legal way than sailing the seas and taking hostages. Military jackets, skulls, knee high boots and oversized feathers all add a touch of the high seas to high fashion.
Which look do you prefer?
What good films have you seen set in the 18th century?