Featured Post

Austenland: The Awesome Costumes of Annie Hardinge #book2movies

Jennifer Coolidge, Keri Russell and Georgia King in Austenland 
Sony Pictures Classics

I've seen a smattering of reviews for Austenland online; the only one I've read is this one by Michael Phillips at the L.A. Times but judging from the early results at Rotten Tomatoes, the critics aren't being kind.  Like 80% of Rotten Tomatoes audience responders, I still want to see the film myself. It's based on Shannon Hale's comic novel of the same name and if you read my quick take, you know I thought the book was delicious! Fun, frothy,a little silly and romantic. With a broad wink at all the Austen fanatics out there.

One of the great pleasures we get from period films is the chance to escape the present day mundanity of life - earnestly believing the past was perfect - and revel in another time and place. Next to the production design, the costume design is key to our transportation. While designer Annie Hardinge hasn't had to flex her muscle in a ton of period drama, she's best known for  Shaun of the Dead, Little Britain and Ali Gi, Hardinge seems to have risen to the occasion here, especially with the tongue in cheek opulence Austenland demands. 

The Style section of Time featured a spiffy Q+A with the designer; I've excerpted a couple of the extra good bits in Allison Berry's piece, and enhanced with images from the web:

Did you try to adhere strictly to this 18th century British style, or was it just a point of departure?
The baby-doll pastels are all froth and fun but check out those umbrellas! 
Image Source: aceshowbiz.com
"It was a point of departure as Jerusha Hess, the director, wanted to create a quirky look for Austenland and give the film a “heightened reality.” As the novel’s storyline is a modern take on the Regency style, we decided to use lots of color and to mix modern fabrics with period costume shapes, but to accentuate the look to create a parallel universe.

Georgia King, Keri Russell and Jennifer Coolidge 
Image Source movpins.com
How did you conceptualize the look of Jennifer Coolidge’s character Lizzie, particularly in contrast to Keri Russell’s Jane?
Jennifer Coolidge must have had a blast with her wardrobe; 
Lizzie's hat beats Jane's by a head.

"I kept Jane’s wardrobe as authentic and drab as possible with neutral colors and kept the patterns, trim and detailing on her clothes very subdued. As a contrast, Lizzie’s clothes reflected her big personality and her love of the color pink! All of her costumes were designed and made especially for Jennifer Coolidge with lots of embroidery, beadwork and opulent fabrics. The shapes of Lizzie’s dresses were authentic but slightly exaggerated, and I heightened her look by making each dress an homage to the color pink and by making each outfit as detailed as possible, especially emphasizing her extravagant hats and accessories.

Drab and dull per the designer; Keri Russell still looks pretty opposite Bret McKenzie in Austenland

Read the rest of the piece here and check out the trailer below.