Category Archives: Neo-Victorian Retrofuturism

Neo-Victorian Movie Fashions: Part Two

 

Helena Bonham Carter is the Corset Cosplay Queen, as she has played many characters in historical movies that have required her to wear the most gorgeous costumes. The 2013 ‘The Lone Ranger’ movie was set in 1869, and so Red Harrington  – the character played by Helena Bonham Carter – wears Victorian-era inspired costumes. Red has red hair and wears red clothing; in Australia, we would have nicknamed her ‘Blue’.

lone ranger helena bonhamcarter costume by Penny Rose.jpg

Red Harrington’s costumes were designed by Penny Rose.

Red went through a series of costume changes. Rather than try to break own the accuracy of every costumes, I have chosen two main outfits to discuss. Oh, and we will also discuss the major Steampunk prop of her costumes: the prosthetic leg that was also a gun. This was actually to the most Steampunk gadget in the movie.

THE LONE RANGER

Neo-Victorian Costume Number One.

As previously mentioned, the movie is set in 1869. Crinolines were the dress-shape of the fashionistas of that era …and Red’s costume is certainly the right shape.

red-silk-dress-from-the-late-1860s

Red Silk walking dress of the late 1860s. The silhouette is very like that of Helena Bonham Carter’s costumes.

Red’s crinoline is also in the right colour range for the era, and ruffles were a popular way of decorating the skirts of a crinoline. There had been a time when a hoop skirt would be absolutely enormous, but in the late 1860s the worst of these excesses were in the past. In the next few years, crinolines would be replaced by the bustle. Red does not appear to be wearing a hoop, and she should be. (However, she is also well away from the centres of fashion and may have resorted to petticoats instead.)

1871

Note how quickly the crinoline was replaced by the bustle. Ruffles never went out of fashion. This dress was the height of fashion in 1871.

1860-photograph-of-crinoline-with-ovecoat-hat-and-muff

1860 photograph of a woman wearing a crinoline, an overcoat, a muff, and a hat. The style of Red’s hat, shrug, and dress silhouette is closer in fashion to 1871 than to 1860.

The little lace jacket that is part of the movie costume appears to be a boudoir jacket being worn as day wear. Above are a range of jackets:

  • a boudoir jacket circa 1860;
  • 1861 lace jacket over a mourning dress;
  • A mantle/caplet from 1888.

As you can see, the boudoir jacket is lacy like the little jacket that is part of Red’s outfit, but the cut of the jacket is more like a modern shrug or a caplet.

Red’s buttoned shoes are spot on for the era.

Helena Bonham Carter plays Red Harrington in The Lone Ranger.jpg

This second outfit also sports a strange little caplet trimmed with lace, over a dress with at least three visible layers. As you can see, this dress does loosely resemble a high fashion gown from 1870, from the House of Worth in France. The Costume is a mishmash of fabrics and colours compared to the Worth dress, but that can be put down to Red’s flashy tastes. The parasol is spot on for the era.

1870s-house-of-worth

1870 House of Worth gown.

The closest equivalent period garment with dramatic sleeves I could find was this tartan dress below. However, those style of sleeves turn up again and again in the Victorian era.

royal-stuart-tartan-with-green-fringe-late-1860s

Royal Stuart Tartan Dress circa late 1860s

lone-ranger-red-shotgun-leg-movie-is-set-in-1869

Red Harrington’s prosthetic leg with hidden shotgun.

It was this clever gadget leg that inspired me to look harder at Helena Bonham Carter’s costumes in ‘The Lone Ranger’. For me, it is the gadgets that really make the Steampunk Aesthetic. As a cosplayer, I would wear a ‘tattooed’white stocking and a modified shoe to mimic this prosthetic leg.

gun-leg

The problem for costumers is that people forget that the Victorian era was lo-o-on-ng. Fashions changed. It is hard to put together an authentic historical outfit, particularly when the accuracy of the outfit hardly matters in a fantasy Western/Steampunk movie. I think Penny Rose did a great job of using Red’s outfits to give the audience a deeper insight into her character. That is inspirational work.

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