Yorgos Lanthimos made a statement about gender roles with the costumes in The Favourite.
The Greek director’s new film is already an awards season winner, scoring a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award for Olivia Colman, and also picking up Best Acting Ensemble at the Critics’ Choice Awards.
He worked closely with triple Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell to get the historical outfits just right, with stars Olivia, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, and Joe Alwyn perfectly pulling off the Stuart setting of Britain’s Queen Anne reign.
“Yorgos definitely was making a statement,” Sandy explained to Variety of the men’s flamboyant outfits and the women’s pared-back looks. “He wanted them to look like they were wearing clothes that belonged to them, and he didn’t want to see make-up on the women’s faces or look like they were wearing wigs. On the other hand, he wanted the men to look like the posturing peacocks, overdressed with make-up, with wigs, with heels. Actually, the look of the men was completely historically accurate for the period.”
After being tasked with designing historically accurate pieces, Sandy decided not to make carbon copies of clothes worn by Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch, who ruled until her death in 1714.
Instead, she approached the job as if she were a designer in that period.
“We couldn’t have made clothes that are exactly like the portrait because they would have been made from materials we can’t get now,” the designer pointed out. “It would have been much more ornate in terms of decoration, with embroidery, embellishment, and jewels. We didn’t want to do that stylistically. Adding more white was the equivalent of adding more jewels or adding more expensive elements.”