Barcelona Cultura

From costume design in “The Favourite” to the Costumes collection at the museum

Since ancient times, human beings have altered the shape and appearance of their bodies with their clothes. Throughout the ages, different ways of dressing have been intimately connected with moral, social and aesthetic codes. Fashion imposes standards of beauty; silhouettes and volumes are modified and nature gives way to artifice. Clothes change the body's proportions and alter the wearer's relationship with physical space and other people. Due to this magic, it is gathered in the permanent exhibition of the Museu del Disseny "Dressing the Body. Silhouettes and fashion (1550-2015)".

"The Favourite", a feature film directed by Yórgos Lánthimos has been presented as one of the great contenders of the 91st edition of The Oscars, which will take place this Sunday, February 24. A large scale historical production, "The Favourite" has already accumulated 10 BAFTA awards and 10 Oscar nominations. The categories that stand out are Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Photography and, of course, Best Costume Design for Sandy Powell (who has already won 3 Oscars). The film, in addition to staging a universe of feminine power in which men go to occupy the secondary role that has historically been attributed to women, is also an ode to the dress.

An inversion of the patriarchy that ends up degenerating into a nightmare, the film is a work of visceral beauty. The costumes, designed to be historically inaccurate, consist of a succession of references to art and literature of the time and to the anachronistic allusions of the director: Dutch paintings of the XVII century and the film "Cries and Whispers", by Ingmar Bergman (1972). In addition, Powell uses the minimalist color palette present in "The Draughtsman’s Contract" (1982): "A costume of the time would have had more embellishments, more embroidery, more sumptuous fabrics and more colors but I decided to resort to basic and affordable fabrics to focus on the silhouettes", she explained to Fashionista.

That’s the power of the dress: it modifies the appearance of the body, it broadens it, lengthens it, profiles it, and uncovers it. It plays with silhouettes through actions that compress and free them, from the XVI century to nowadays. Check it out first-hand at the permanent exhibition "Dressing the Body. Silhouettes and fashion (1550-2015)" and in the online collection of Costumes at the Museu. And, if you have not already done so, we recommend you go to your nearest cinema to see "The Favourite".

Ajuntament de Barcelona