I've another 'Fabulous Film Fashion' post for you lovely lot, this time, I've had an obsessive ogle at Madonnas latest film release W.E.
To be honest this is a film I never really thought I would end up watching. I'd never really been that interested in Wallis and I had heard such lukewarm reviews of it, that unconsciously I'd discounted it. But as I was standing in Tesco's trying to find a something nice for less than a tenner in their DVD section, I saw that this film was on sale for a reasonable £6 so after a little deliberation, I popped it in my basket and took a risk.
In 1998, lonely New Yorker Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) is obsessed with what she perceives as the ultimate love story: King Edward VIII's abdication of the British throne for the woman he loved, American divorcée Wallis Simpson. But Winthrop's research, including several visits to the Sotheby's auction of the Windsor Estate, reveals that the couple's life together was not as perfect as she thought. Weaving back and forth in time, the film intertwines Wally's journey of discovery in New York with the story of Wallis (Andrea Riseborough) and Edward (James D'Arcy), from the glamorous early days of their romance to the slow unraveling of their lives in the decades that followed. (source)
I am so glad I did, as after watching this film now for the second time I can honestly say I enjoyed it. I'm not going to lie, I would have loved the film to have been purely set in the past, especially as Andrea's portrayal of Wallis is captivating. But let's face it, that's been done many times before (here and here to name just a few) so this was a certainly a unique approach which kept it from being too predictable.
One negative for me was that at times I found Wally's sections of the film a little slow, I could totally relate to her obsession and fascination with the past as an escape from her real life, but she does do an awful lot of teary gazing at things without saying much and perhaps her story at times seems a bit too coincidentally similar to that of Wallis.
The film has been heavily criticised for its lack of historical accuracy, the line between fact and fiction may well have been blurred, but I don't think (for me at least) it is a problem. As with most films you are viewing one person's interpretation of the story, so this is just Madonna's (or Wally's) take on Wallis & Edward and not necessarily the definitive story. Having known only a little about this infamous woman before watching W.E. my desire to learn more about the 'real' Wallis has certainly increased, which can be no bad thing.
Anyway, a film reviewer I am not. Obsessive costume watcher I certainly am and Madonna has certainly excelled herself in this department. Working alongside Arianne Phillips they have created sumptuous wardrobes for all of the characters, but my hat has to well and truly come off to them for their recreation of Wallis' Wardrobe. Which is stunning and must have cost a flipping fortune!
"Phillips forged relationships with Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels to replicate the cross bracelet and 10 other iconic pieces. For the gowns, undergarments, and dresses needed for the 60 costume changes in the film, Phillips scoured the Vionnet and Schiaparelli archives and then, with the cooperation of both houses, redesigned and (often re-imagined) Simpson’s clothing. “Some of the pieces that the duchess actually ordered I thought were hideous,” Phillips said. “Those wouldn’t work for the movie, so we modified and invented. Wallis wasn’t pretty; she was handsome, at best. In England, it was noted over and over how unattractive she was. But Wallis was a lot of fun—very entertaining.” [source]
I'll be honest I know very little about designers so I've just chosen some of my favorites, captured them as best I could with copious screenshots and a brief description of the outfits as I see them (I could be wrong). I've also added in a few quotes from Arianne where I could find them, so I hope you enjoy!
Warning screenshot heavy post !!
(click all pictures to make bigger)
Brown Suit & Green Tea Dress
|Screen Shots from W.E.|
A brown suit Jacket with matching brown wool toque hat (it does make her look a bit like a Crayola, but a fabulous one!) Underneath is a green floral calf length tea dress with pleating towards a high neckline, rear fastening with self-covered buttons which run down the back of neck to waist, finished with a pair of brown suede shoes.
“Initially, when we see her when she’s sick, in the car, and she and Ernest Simpson, her husband, are going to Fort Belvedere for the weekend—it’s the first time they’re meeting Edward, [so] I tried to keep her clothes more naïve,” Phillips explains. “She always had impeccable style, but as her means changed and her milieu changed, her clothes changed as well.” (Source)
Blue Velvet & Gold Lame Gown - Schiaparelli Inspired
|Screen Shots from W.E. capture by me Additional images from Here|
This is a dress little girls dreams are made of, well mine at least! Wallis is wearing a rich blue velvet gown with floor-length velvet skirt, gold lame bodice and with velvet under ruched/gathered (along inside seam) three-quarter length sleeves, trimmed with what looks like a lighter blue velvet chain brocade. Cinched in with a wide belt with a lighter blue embellishment, topped off with what looks like a fabric tiara headband.
“It’s actually a replication of a Schiaparelli gown,” Though the dress is not one that Wallis actually wore, to Phillips’s knowledge, “Wallis Simpson was a client of Elsa Schiaparelli and did wear a lot of her clothes in that particular period.”(Quote Source)
Blue & White Pinstripe - Arianne Phillips
|Screen Shots from W.E. capture by me Additional images from Here|
Floor length full paneled (bias cut) skirt, with each panel joining the bodice to form a V, button through bodice, interesting v-shaped yoke which is repeated on the back, mid length slightly puffed sleeves. This dress is a testament to the skills of the couturier, look at the way that all the stripes match up, just look at the bodice and sleeves!
" To host a luncheon, Wallis wears a crisp sundress. “Wallis wore a lot of graphic patterns. I wanted this dress to feel as formal as it could for an outfit in the South of France, so I loved the idea of the striped pale blue and white,” (source)
“I wanted a really striking day dress. This one was inspired by a lot of the photographs we had of her. It had this beautiful organza petticoat that just made it waft and float when she walked.”(source)
Blue & White Peasant Blouse & White Skirt
|Screen Shots from W.E. captured by me Additional image from here|
This outfit is so simple yet so striking! Slightly cream cotton peasant blouse with pale and dark blue embroidered panels around the collar, cuffs and down front on either side of the button band. Teamed with a simple white linen skirt.
Beige & Black Zigzag Suit With A Winged Vail Hat - Arianne Phillips
|Screen Shots from W.E. captured by me. Additional images from here & here|
|B&W image from here / Colour image from here|
'Wallis' Blue Crepe Dress - Replica Manbouchier
This dress is only seen briefly in the film so I have had to rely on the web for images of the original. Wallis original wedding dress was designed by Mainboucher, made from blue silk crepe in what was to be her signature colour of 'Wallis Blue', which was said to have been chosen to match her eyes, she had matching blue gloves. Her her blue straw halo hat was designed by Caroline Reboux.
"Most famous was the pale, "Wallis"-blue Mainbocher dress, in which she wed the Duke of Windsor in 1937. The original has not lasted well: "We were lucky enough to see it, but, unfortunately, the colour has faded into a dingy blue-green." So the dress Riseborough wears is a replica hired from Cosprop, a London-based costumery." (Quote Source Telegraph)
Gold & Silver Lame Gown - Madeleine Vionnet
| Screen Shots from W.E. capture by me Additional image from Here|
"She is wearing a dress made by Vionnet, bracelets from Anna Hu, hair jewels from Stephen Jones, and Madonna’s personal necklace. He is wearing a navy tuxedo with tails—his signature.” (Quote Source)
|Image on left from here / Image on right from here|
A Floor length halter neck silver & gold lame bias cut gown split down the front of silver outer dress reveals gold under dress, held in place with a wide gold metal leaf (?) belt.
|Screenshots of W.E by me Additional images from here & here|
Cream Chiffon floor length gown, with godet inserts in the skirt below hips to add fullness, V-neckline with ribbon tie at back. The dress is covered in cascading heart shaped leaves made from hand sewn gold & silver beads/sequins waist is accentuated with a matching silver beaded/sequined belt.
"The film W.E. gave Vionnet such a wonderful opportunity to showcase the exquisite craftsmanship and skill of the house," the label's ceo Matteo MarzottoVionnet for Wallis Simpson with precision and accuracy. Extensive research was carried out on fabrics and construction using original pieces from the archives at the Louvre." told Vogue. "We were thrilled to be considered for the project and it was so exciting to be part of such a lavish production that portrayed one of history's most intriguing women. The film, W.E., challenged us to utilise our extensive knowledge and craftsmanship to re-create the original pieces designed by Madeleine" (Quote Source)
White Blouse & Blue Skirt
|Screenshots from W.E. captured by me Additional images from here|
This suit is just so smart and couldn't be any more 50's in style! Grey wool Jacket with large collar, a natural peplum on a jacket, a mid-calf length skirt with rear slit and a matching hat.
"Andrea Riseborough is wearing a Schiaparelli "minute" suit with Cariter Pearls and medals. One medal was given to Wallis (by Edward) when her beloved terrior Slipper died—Price Edward liked to give her "memento" jewelry—and the other a is carved Ganesh. Cartier re-created the medals and pearls for us. Once the film comes out, Cartier will destroy all the copies it re-created for the production, so the originals will not be devalued." (Quote Source)
Well If you have made it this far I salute you!
If you enjoyed this you might like:
- Vanity Fair interview with Arianne Phillips about her work on W.E.
- A Grazia Interview with Arianne Phillips & Short Making of Costumes in W.E.
- Interesting YouTube Short about W.E & book 'That Woman'
- W.E. Vogue Promo Pictures