The Dressmaker (2015) is quite possibly one of the most beautifully costumed films I have seen in a long while. The fact that neither of the brilliant costume designing duo of Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson received a acknowledgement from the Academy Awards, is an act of heresy.
Based on the best-selling novel by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker is a bittersweet, comedy-drama set in early 1950s Australia. Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet), a beautiful and talented misfit, after many years working as a dressmaker in exclusive Parisian fashion houses, returns home to the tiny middle-of-nowhere town of Dungatar to right the wrongs of the past. Not only does she reconcile with her ailing, eccentric mother Molly (Judy Davis) and unexpectedly falls in love with the pure-hearted Teddy (Liam Hemsworth), but armed with her sewing machine and incredible sense of style, she transforms the women of the town and in doing so gets sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.
Every single character is beautifully dressed, and all the dressed are expertly made. Among my personal favourites is the first dress created by Tilly in the film, for the dowdy Gertrude Pratt , whom Tilly transforms into the belle of the country town ball. This kickstarts a bit of a Pygmalion project for Tilly, not only does Gertrude’s wardrobe ultimately end up reminiscent to a 1950s Vogue spread, but also lands her the town’s most eligible bachelor. Gertrude again wears another of my favourites, a figure hugging black dress with some of the most enviable sleeves ever seen on screen. All in all, the gowns are what makes this film, they carry what is at times, an overly farfetched story, almost akin to an episode of Midsomer Murders. Yet for anyone with even the smallest amount of admiration for the work of the 1950’s fashion houses, it is well worth a watch.