Fashion statement

How the “Suffragette” costumes reflect a social movement

Meryl Streep in the film “Suffragette,” which follows proto-feminists in London’s East End, fighting — at times with bricks and bombs — for the right to vote. Jane Petrie, the costume designer for “Suffragette,” used as many authentic pieces as possible, some almost 100 years old. (Steffan Hill/Focus Features via The New York Times)

The upcoming film Suffragette, which will be released on October 23, chronicles the militant activism of Britain’s proto-feminists. Jane Petrie, who designed the costumes for the movie, told the New York Times that she used as many authentic pieces as possible, some of which were almost 100 years old. These costumes, Petrie said, embodied the shifting personalities and politics of the film’s characters. The protagonist Maude, who is played by Carey Mulligan, works as a laborer in a laundry at the start of the film; her clothing is initially heavy and unstructured. “Everything has a sort of sag to it, but there’s no weakness,” Petrie explained. Once Maude aligns herself with the suffragettes, her wardrobe shifts to brighter fabrics and hats. For Emmeline Pankhurst, the real-life suffragette leader played by Meryl Streep, Petrie sought to recreate a long coat that Pankhurst had worn while she was alive. “The minute you see her, and she raises her arms, you can see the long sleeves of the robe,” Petrie said. “There’s almost a studiousness to them, a respect. You know that she’s there with something to say.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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