Designed for Drama at Biltmore, Part II

Continuing on with my latest visit to Biltmore Estate, the next costume is from The House of Mirth.  It’s especially fitting that a film based on a work of novelist Edith Wharton be included, as Wharton was a friend of the Vanderbilts, and actually visited Biltmore in 1902 and again in 1905.  For Christmas in 1905, Wharton gave George Vanderbilt a signed copy of The House of Mirth.

The suit above was worn by Gillian Anderson in the 2000 film version of the book.  I like how the shoes are peeking out from the slightly shortened walking suit.  The view in the mirror is a nice touch as well.

I did not see Sleepy Hollow, mainly because I just could not imagine Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane.  His plain black suit is on the left, while the prosperous Baltus Van Tassel costume is on the right.

These two costumes were also worn in Sleepy Hollow, but not by a featured actress.  Background characters wore these, and my guess is that they were not originally made for Sleepy Hollow, but for another film.  Recycling of costumes saves time and money, and is still a common practice.

This tweed suit was worn by Jude Law in the role of Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

This ensemble was worn by Rachel McAdams in Sherlock Holmes.  It looks like a cape, but is actually a weirdly constructed coat-like garment with very deep sleeves.  It was much richer and more interesting in person.

George Vanderbilt was a great lover of books, and in his library are all the great books of his time.  Henry James was another favorite, and he too visited Biltmore in 1905.  The next few costumes are from the 1996 adaptation of The Portrait of a Lady.  Nicole Kidman as Isabel Archer wore the above dress.

Another thing to notice about this exhibition is how well the garments coordinate with each room.  I’m sure a lot of time was put into the decision of where to place which garments, as the dresses seem to be made for their surroundings.

I have not seen the 2011 version of Jane Eyre, mainly because I’m not a fan of the story.  But, I thought the costumes were very well done.  Above is a dress worn by Mia Wasikowska who played Jane.

We expect to see costumes by the main characters, but those worn by the supporting cast are also interesting.  On the left is Judi Dench’s costume as Mrs. Fairfax, and on the right is what Sophie Ward wore to portray Lady Ingram.

The last film featured is the 2012 version of Anna Karinina starring Keira Knightly.  Of all the movies shown, I found these costumes to be the most confusing.   Someone might want to help me out with the timeline of the story, but I thought it was set in the 1870s, the period in which it was written.  But the clothes ranged from full out crinolines of the early 1860s to the bustled and trained dressed one might expect from a mid 1870s setting.

The white dress above was worn by Alicia Vikander as Kitty, and the suit and coat was worn by Matthew MacFadyen as Vronsky.

Sorry about the terrible quality of this photo, but I had to use it as example.  The crinoline has deflated, with the fullness of the dresses all at the back.  I just could not wrap my mind around the differences in styles represented.

I really enjoyed Designed for Drama.  The Biltmore Company really does work hard to make sure all the aesthetics are covered.  What you can’t see are all the terrific floral arrangements which add to the overall experience.  It’s such a grand house, and a glimpse into a lifestyle that most can’t even imagine.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Designed for Drama at Biltmore, Part II

  1. Yes I am not gaga over Jane Eyre.. read The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys to really know the mad woman in the attic

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  2. How great to see this fashion among interior decor of a bygone era

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  3. Christina

    From all that I have read about this version of Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Duran the costume designer wanted to create a 1950’s inspired look for the film. I think that shows but I don’t think it worked.

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  4. Patricia

    Are these individual costumes ‘spotlighted’?

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  5. Lizzie, what a pleasure it was touring this exhibit with you, Suzanne, and Cornelia. And how nice of you to do all the work of reporting on our experience! Thank you ; ). I’m glad my favorite made it into your post — it’s the striped 1880 natural form gown worn by Nicole Kidman in Portrait of a Lady. If I could steal just one, that would be it.

    I am happy to report that the folks at Biltmore clued me in on next year’s exhibit. Sit down, please….

    Costumes from “Titanic!” You know I’ll simply have to do that one in costume!

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  6. Personally, I’m a fan of Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, it’s quite different, but I can accept it. In fact one of my favorite costumes from all time is in it, one worn by Christina Ricci’s Katrina for literally like two seconds at the very end of the film. A black and white stripe number.

    And I’m all sorts of in love with the piece McAdams wore in Sherlock Holmes! How neat to see what one in person!

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