Neo-Victorian Movie Fashions – Part One

joan-bergin-costume-designer-scarlett-johanson-wearing-the-outfit

Joan Bergin  was the Costume Designer of this stunning outfit from the movie, The Prestige. Scarlett Johansson played Olivia Wenscombe; she looked like a dream come true when wearing the outfit. It has some very classic Victorian features.

the-prestige

The outfit is made from a combination of fabrics in different colours and designs.  Stripes were a favourite of the Victorians, and the use of stripes and florals in the outfit is certainly not out of step with the era’s fashions.

dress-ca-1875-bunka-gakuen-museum

Dress mixing stripes and florals from 1875. Image from the Bunka Gakeuen Museum. Even the colours are from the same family, tans/golds and blues,  as The Prestige costume. I can’t help wondering if this dress was the inspiration for the movie costume.

lace-and-embroidery-dress-from-the-philedelphia-museumdetails-of-the-costume-that-scarlett-johansson-wore-in-the-prestige-02

The  Prestige outfit also combines lace trims and floral embroidery details. This combination was a favourite with Victorian-era fashionistas. Nothing says outrageous femininity like lace and flowers.

lace-and-embroidery-dressy-circa-1885-from-the-philedelphia-museum

Lace and embroidery on a dress from 1885. Image from the Philadelphia Museum.

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The pleated chiffon ruffles trimming the movie costume are also a Victorian-era fashion. It wasn’t unusual for these pleats to be decorated with ribbon or lace.

french-silk-evening-gown-1888-gold-damask-with-gold-chiffon-ruffles-02

French silk evening gown with chiffon ruffles, circa 1888.

Note that the pleats aren’t as crisp as in the modern costume. I am putting that down to ageing fabrics.

ruffles

Wedding gown, circa late 1870s and early 1880s.

details-of-the-costume-that-scarlett-johansson-wore-in-the-prestige

The main problem with this costume is that The Prestige is set in the early 1900s, and all these fashion trends are from around the 1870s and 1880s. As well, tasteful dresses didn’t have every type of trim thrown onto the one outfit, though it works here due to superb styling by the costume designer. I suspect that the modern fabrics are easier to work with, but I am not a seamstress and can’t make that call.

However, seen as a Steampunk costume for a Steampunk fantasy film, this costume is magnificent. It wouldn’t be hard to add a bit of gadget magic to this ensemble, if a cosplayer decided to recreate this dress.

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Filed under Cosplay, Fashion, Movie Costumes, Steampunk, Steampunk Cosplay, Uncategorized, Victorian-era Fashion

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