Features, Venue

The modern March sisters: the costumes of ‘Little Women’

Timothee Chalamet’s tousled hair wasn’t the only thing that caused a stir when images from Greta Gerwig’s film adaptation of Little Women were released. The colourful array of costumes has delighted movie goers and critics alike, with Gerwig retaining the classic period feel, whilst appealing to modern viewers with a wholly relevant approach to layering and styling, proving how often trends circle back around. With the outfits framed by the warm golden light and sumptuous scenery, costume designer Jaqueline Durran drew inspiration from classic 19th century paintings to inform how she dressed sisters Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg. Each sisters’ personal style is clearly defined, as Amy’s playful side comes out in her pastel striped dresses, whereas Jo’s rebellious nature is evident in her rejection of corsets and frilly frocks. The beach scene is one of many vignettes packed with sartorial delights, with lacy dusty rose dresses, chequered blazers and a multitude of wicker baskets to delight any Jane Birkin wannabe. Amy’s Parisian dresses provide ample wardrobe inspiration for the inevitable scenario of your wealthy aunt, who happens to be Meryl Streep, whisking you away to France for the summer to learn to paint and attend champagne fuelled soirees. She practices her art in bohemian linen shirts tucked into dramatic skirts, and goes dancing in dramatic black and gold dresses dripping in jewels.  

Whilst the March sisters’ gorgeous gowns take centre stage, the over the top white puffy sleeves that Chalamet’s character Laurie wears throughout the film, are what truly captivated viewers. You only need to look at the recent Golden Globes red carpet to see that powerful oversized sleeves are in vogue, and I dare say Chalamet rocks them better than any Hollywood starlet, with Durran styling them with a multitude of velvet and printed waistcoats. Even though the costumes are all true to the time period, an element of modernity still shone through while I was watching. With every outfit that appeared on screen, I saw hints of runway trends. From massive lace collars à la Shrimps and Louis Vuitton, to prairie dresses that rival The Vampire’s Wife collections and a pistachio and lavender colour combo which can be seen all over recent street style snaps. So when people talk about a 60’s revival, they might now be talking about the 1860’s? Consider me on board if it means I can embrace my inner March sister and hop into Gerwig’s cinematic masterpiece.

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Maya Coomarasamy

July 2021
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