Costume Luxe

On a recent rainy Monday night my younger sister invited me over for dinner and to watch some random episodes of Hercule Poirot. She is obsessed with murder mysteries having already exhausted a box set of Midsummer Murders; it was time to move to a more interesting era, fashion wise.

Death on the Nile was screened on ITV in 2004 and as far as I was concerned went completely unnoticed. I was probably obsessing far too much over the latest series of Big Brother to watch a mid-afternoon super sleuth series that I’d normally associate with being on in the living room at my nan’s house. I had missed a corker of an episode and the costumes alone were worth the 90 minute sitting.

Emily Blunt stars as the female lead as wealthy business woman, Linnet Ridgeway, complete with blonde bombshell Marseilles wave wig and an array of elegant evening dresses. There is a particular scene in which the group of VIP tourists are visiting the Pyramids of Giza including the leading lady, who is gracefully strolling along in her ridiculously large sun hat, floating striped summer dress and high heels proving that despite the situation in war-torn Europe, 1930’s fashion was still prominent for those rich enough to afford it. A note must be made about Poirot himself who is always immaculately dressed throughout the film in well cut linen 3 piece suits, weaved fedoras and  signature handkerchief.

Other notable female characters such as Jacqueline De Bellefort, the spurned lover of the male lead, wore classic mid length tea dresses, somewhat ordinary shoes and appears twice in a deep red silk evening gown. The class divide is emphasised through simple, less varied costume choices and with beautiful garments that cover a wide character range. I personally think that the costume designer, Sheena Napier has done an amazing job of really capturing the essence of this lavish journey and its individual participants.

There are some distinct trends evident in the film. Complex pattern cutting of luxurious fabrics such as silk and chiffon, combined with skilfully hand beaded column dresses was soon to be an indulgence of the past. 1940’s women and land girls also wore the floral dresses as seen in the film, however, their garments were cut from cheaper fabrics and were constructed using basic methods compared to their 1930’s counterpart due to the rationing demands of the war. What a difference 5 years makes.

For anyone who is interested in 1930’s fashion trends this TV film is a must, a feast for the artistic eye and an entertaining lesson in fashion history all wrapped up in a classic ‘who-dunnit’ format.

What more could you ask for on a rainy Monday night?

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