This awards season we're looking to the silver screen for more than just stories that move us. Sure, the thrilling plots, fantastic characters and previously untold stories have us running to the cinema each weekend, but the onscreen style is as delectable as the films themselves. Colette may be the most obvious source of sartorial inspiration, but we're also taking style notes from two of the most powerful women to have ruled our little island.
Queen Elizabeth I is portrayed by Margot Robbie in Mary Queen of Scots, while Olivia Colman takes a turn as Queen Anne in The Favourite. They're two of the most exciting films of the year for several reasons: both films have a strong female cast, depict historical narratives in a new light, and are brimming with fashion takeaways. Thought you'd never take styling tips from the 16th and 18th centuries? Think again...
"Elizabeth was queen of a very powerful and wealthy country, with a very sophisticated network of politicians and power structures," Mary Queen of Scots costume designer Alexandra Byrne tells Refinery29. "I wanted her to look like she had a Net-A-Porter account so I used colour to show her individual statement outfits."
And statement they are: ruffs frame her red hair, bodices are bejewelled, and necklines are dramatic. We've found ourselves reaching for square necklines more than once this season. From Preen by Thornton Bregazzi to Saint Laurent, the super flattering neckline was everywhere on SS19's catwalks. We're teaming ours with a puffed sleeve and lightweight fabric – the perfect alternative to last summer's Bardot style.
The Favourite is brilliant. Olivia Colman is genius as the inexperienced, naive and petulant Queen Anne, the fisheye camerawork brings a fresh perspective to the sometimes staid period drama genre, and characters throw around the C-word like it's going out of style. While Anne isn't portrayed as a regal beauty, the costumes are extravagantly detailed and used to demonstrate the power struggle between the women vying for their queen's favour.
Academy Award-winning costume designer Sandy Powell uses freshwater pearls of increasing and decreasing size to point to who is currently the favourite. Anne's are always the biggest – most noticeably, the thick set she wears around her neck – but Abigail Masham's (Emma Stone) get more opulent as she climbs the ranks. Lucky, then, that pearls have been fashion's jewellery of choice since last summer: brands like Wald Berlin and Natasha Schweitzer are making the best pieces, which we're wearing in our lobes and, like Queenie, around our necks.
Ruffs (Yes, Really)
Apparently, ruffs were originally worn to stop the wearer's neck sweat ruining their clothes (sorry for that unpleasant image) and, rather amusingly, they grew bigger and bigger as the 16th century went on. Realistically we probably won't be wearing full-on ruffs any time soon; instead we're dialling down the drama and donning high, ruffled collars, like the one Elizabeth is wearing above.
From Batsheva to DSquared2, the feminine neckline is a sweet, cold-weather detail. Victoria Beckham even wore one with a blazer at London Fashion Week Men's, proving it can be brought into the 21st century.
Sandy used artistic licence to keep the costumes in The Favourite mostly monochromatic – in her own words, creating a more "punk version" of the era's style. Although the perpetually ill Anne spends most of the film in a nightgown, for her rare address to court, Sandy wanted to introduce a regal air. For such an occasion, a gown embroidered with solid gold would ordinarily have been fitting; Sandy, however, chose ermine.
Our favourite element, though? Those puffed-up sleeves. There's nothing more dramatic than a ballooned, leg-of-mutton sleeve and thanks to The Vampire's Wife, JW Anderson, John Galliano and Kenzo, there's plenty of the statement style to snap up, whether you go full-on inflated or more subtle with a gentle pouf.
Alexandra used Swarovski crystals to recreate Queen Elizabeth's highly embellished looks. "She was incredibly aware of the power of her appearance (she replaced all iconography of the Virgin Mary with her own image) and in these symbolic portraits she was painted in incredible jewellery foiled-back diamonds," she explains. Alexandra worked with the jewellers to recreate the amazing array of red stones Elizabeth was so often portrayed wearing.
Not so long ago, wearing jewels in your hair was reserved for school discos and weddings. Now, though, thanks to the likes of Shrimps, Ashley Williams, Gucci and Simone Rocha, hair embellishment is back in a big way. Go sweet and subtle with pearl slides, or dramatic with crowns and jewels. Hair accessories quite literally fit for a queen.