Black is King
For Beyoncé’s headline-making visual album to accompany her 2019 The Lion King: The Gift, stylist Zerina Akers curated a sartorial spectacle of fashion’s emerging and established talent. The dazzling showcase included a line-up of brands and designers including Burberry, Balmain, Loza Maléombho, Erdem, Molly Goddard, Valentino, Alon Livné and Alessandra Rich. In her celebration of “the breadth and beauty of Black ancestry”, the style spectacular is much befitting a Queen Bey.
As season four of The Crown arrived on screen, all eyes were on the eagerly awaited newcomer, Lady Diana Spencer, played by Emma Corrin. Unsurprisingly for a woman oft-referred to as one of the world’s best-dressed, her debut brought the most scene-stealing costumes of the series. There are immaculate recreations of now-iconic occasionwear – the electric-blue ruffled gown for a gala in Sydney; a dotted red and gold ballgown for a premiere; and, of course, the most famous wedding dress of the 20th century. Her Australian tour enjoys a delectable array of brightly hued and floral-patterned dresses, while at home in London she is seen in checked co-ords, ruffled blouses and graphic knitwear, bringing much visual vibrancy to the royal household.
Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell is at the helm of the wardrobe department for Julie Taymor’s biopic of Gloria Steinem, starring Julianne Moore, which spans the feminist icon’s story from her 1940s childhood in Ohio to her leading role in the women’s liberation movement. From 1960s ensembles to her distinctive ’70s belted, flared jeans and T-shirts – some borrowed for the movie from Steinem’s own closet – fashion is rightly not at the forefront of the film, but it is completely enviable nonetheless.
Set amid the Golden Age of cinema, it comes as no surprise that Ryan Murphy’s period piece is dripping with 1940s glamour – with the costumes casting a gilded sheen over the show and its characters. None more so, however, than aspiring star-on-the-rise Camille, played by Laura Harrier, who is the epitome of Old Hollywood elegance in stole-covered gowns, elbow-length gloves and usually a statement red lip.
The Queen’s Gambit
The game of chess isn’t the only trend to have emerged from this addictive coming-of-age drama. Harking back to the 1960s, Anya Taylor-Joy stars as the brilliant chess prodigy turned professional player Beth Harmon. A reminder of just how fabulous the fashion of that era really was – with its A-line silhouettes, shift dresses and mini skirts, Peter Pan collars and boatnecks – her wardrobe is on a winning streak of its own. A dreamy collection of checked coats and leather gloves will make you wish for sub-zero temperatures, and her final ensemble serves utter Snow Queen splendor. Checkmate, indeed.
What she might lack in subtlety when it comes to her wardrobe, matriarch Moira Rose – played by Catherine O’Hara – makes up for in bucketloads of style self-confidence (and with a wig to suit any occasion). Her brand of OTT is just the sartorial tonic that we’ve all needed to get us through 2020. And – spoiler alert – her finale look of ivory Alexander McQueen, complete with bespoke bishop-esque mitre, might just be the wedding-guest outfit of the year.
Taking period dressing to even greater heights, Elle Fanning as 18th-century Russian ruler Catherine the Great tapped into the story-telling power of color palettes. The romantic pastels in which she arrives to her palatial marital home come in striking contrast to the rich jewel tones worn by the rest of the court. But as her strength and authority grows, so does the boldness of her garments. A visual feast to match the flamboyancy of the film’s comedic take on history, there are sumptuous silks and luxe velvets in sculpted, corseted silhouettes.
Another Ryan Murphy-return to the 1940s came in this chilling Netflix prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. With Sarah Paulson taking the title role as the petrifying Nurse Mildred Ratched, the show gives a lesson in color-blocking and the power of good tailoring. From her first mustard-yellow two-piece to plenty of strong-shouldered, cinched-in coat dresses – and particularly excellent sunglasses – this is a high-fashion take on uniform.
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