In the past two installments, we took a really good look at Mina Harker’s wardrobe and pointed out the historical elements. Now we enter an area that is, admittedly, more fantastical. Given the movie’s nature and theme, this is only understandable and especially since it taps into the more erotic elements of the vampire mythos and especially those elements that have grown around the Bram Stoker version.
First we turn to Lucy Westenra who, in contrast with the more virtuous Mina, oozes sexuality and breaks every rule of Victorian Era propriety and naturally, Lucy’s wardrobe reflects this. First we start with two dresses that are somewhat tame with just a hint with the off-the-shoulder sleeves:
Lucy’s dress was designated as the “Snake Dress” by the Costume Designer because of the decorative trim pattern. Also, as an aside, Mina’s dress on the right only shows up briefly and there’s no other documentation or pictures of it.
Here’s a better view of the Snake Dress:
This appears to be an attempt at an evening dress and while it’s somewhat suggestive of the 1890s, it just doesn’t work right. Combining a off-the-shoulder neckline with full Gigot or leg of mutton sleeves appears awkward and simply doesn’t work style-wide.
Above, we see Lucy in a dress that’s more reminiscent of the Romantic Era of the 1820s – 1830s and especially with the sleeves which are a combination of the Demi-Gigot and Marie sleeves. The off-the-shoulder neckline would most likely be seen with evening dresses and ball gowns although it sometimes showed up in day dresses. Here are a couple of examples:
The contrast between the demure Mina and the more forward Lucy and it shows in the dress. In both shots, Mina is covered up (especially in the one above).
Now, the bring things up just a bit, we have this:
Lucy is now in thrall to Dracula who is slowly turning her into a vampire and her outfit definitely screams that at the audience. Color-wise, this is not really a good match for a red head but, as more than one commentator has noted, it was probably selected because it shows up nicely for the night scenes. In terms of Victorian morality, Lucy has definitely gone off the rails here. Can we say “Vamp”? 🙂
And now for what is probably what is the most disturbing dress (at least for us) in the whole film: Lucy’s wedding dress. Here are the concept sketches:
The dress is an ocean of layered white fabric, tulle, and lace topped off by an extremely wide stiff lace collar reminiscent of an Elizabethan ruff. This dress oozes the concept of the virginal white wedding dress and it’s impossible for the viewer to miss.
In this picture, we see it in its most innocent guise when Dr Seward visits Lucy while she is being fitted for the dress:
Unfortunately, because these are screen captures, the dress is not that clear but one can still see the elements and especially the close, upright collar that was typical of many 1890s dresses. Here’s a closer view of the collar:
Here we see the pearl choker necklace, or “dog collar”, characteristic of 1890s style.
Now we shift to a darker guise after Lucy seemingly dies from being drained of her blood by Dracula. Lucy is then interred in a crypt wearing the wedding dress. However, as we find out, she’s now a vampire herself:
These images pretty much demonstrate the horror that has befallen poor Lucy and the dress underscores this dramatically. From what is supposed to represent the epitome of innocence and beauty has been transformed into a grotesque garment of horror. Here, the costume designer has succeeded brilliantly and it definitely supports the impact of the story.
In our next post we’ll be winding everything up so stay tuned and we hope we didn’t shock you too badly. 🙂
To be continued…
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