From Emily In Paris To The Duchess, These TV Shows Are Influencing What We Wear

Our new on-screen obsessions aren’t just distracting us from a global pandemic – they’re having an effect on our wardrobes, too.

emily in paris fashion

by Hannah Banks-Walker |
Updated on

At the beginning of this year, it was difficult to ignore the effect that TV shows such asKilling EveandSuccessionwere having on our wardrobes. This assertion wasn’t simply based on anecdotal evidence – Lyst reported that Villanelle’s wardrobe, in both the first and second series of Killing Eve, sparked a 1,060% increase in online searches year on year, while Google data showed that even Friendswas still proving to be a treasure trove of sartorial inspiration to us all. While it’s now only eight months later, life couldn’t look more different thanks to the outbreak of Covid-19. But rather than obliterate our interest in our favourite characters’ on-screen wardrobes, the pandemic has only seemed to strengthen it as we all look for distraction and inspiration among a bleak news cycle and ever-changing restrictions on our daily lives.

Katherine Ryan in The Duchess
Katherine Ryan in The Duchess

Netflix has, of course, been a frontrunner in terms of providing such diversion, which promises to only get better as we enter autumn. The Duchess, already streaming on the platform, is a new show from Katherine Ryan, who stars as a single mother trying to navigate work, a tween-age daughter, an ex-boyfriend and a relationship.

Katherine Ryan in a Zandra Rhodes dress in The Duchess
Katherine Ryan in a Zandra Rhodes dress in The Duchess

Described by Netflix itself as ‘raunchy, witty and irreverent’, the clothes have really taken centre stage thanks to Ryan’s usual sense of flair and flamboyance, which here translates to metallic Zandra Rhodes dresses,feather-trimmed Sleeper pyjamas, second-hand Dolce and Gabbana coats, Stella McCartney boots and someseriously impressive headbands made by Victoria Percival. The show was styled by Jennifer Michalski-Bray, who previously worked on Gossip Girl.

Sarah Paulson in Ratched
Sarah Paulson in Ratched

Ratched, meanwhile, acts as an origin story for Nurse Mildred Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Created by Ryan Murphy – the man behind Glee, Pose and American Horror Story – he ensured that Lou Eyrich and Rebecca Guzzi, the costume designers with whom he worked many of his previous projects, were available to lend their skills to this production. And what a production it is, with bold, bright colours and truly exquisite clothes that reference the strong silhouette of the 1940s, including Dior’s New Look. The costumes don’t just look striking, either, they are indicative of many character traits, especially when it comes to the titular character played by Sarah Paulson.

Cynthia Nixon in Ratched
Cynthia Nixon in Ratched

Speaking toWMagazine, Guzzi explained: ‘To Mildred, everybody has a purpose for her, so she dresses in part for that particular person or group of people to help her manipulate. Gwendolyn [played by Cynthia Nixon] is already a down to earth, honest person, so she doesn't have that goal. She has a secret, obviously—most of the characters do. But there’s really only the play between her private life and her work life as the governor’s press secretary. So she's very much presentable in the tailored women's suits of the time, with the gloves and hat women always had to wear when they stepped out in that era.’

sarah paulson ratched style
Sarah Paulson in another look from Ratched

Clothes play a similar role in the recently released Enola Holmes, another Netflix creation, albeit a film as opposed to a series. Set in 1884, just as the women’s suffrage movement was gaining steam, Millie Bobby Brown plays the 16-year old eponymous character, who is the sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Emboldened by her progressive mother, played by Helena Bonham Carter, Enola is bold, brave and flouts many social conventions, particularly in relation to how she dresses. The costumes are the work of Consolata Boyle, a three-time Oscar nominee known for her work on films including The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, Florence Foster Jenkins and The Iron Lady, both of which feature Meryl Streep in a leading role.

Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes
Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes

Speaking to Fashionista, Boyle said of the period costumes worn by Enola, ‘Even [though she wears] all the undergarments — the petticoats and bloomers — and the skirts of the period, she was still not limited by any of those.’ The character is free of the constraints of corsetry, which was so restrictive for women at the time. When she does put on a corset, it is as a disguise and it ultimately works as a knife-proof vest later on. ‘She doesn't allow all the impediments of late Victorian dress to stop her from kicking some ass,’ said Boyle. ‘She's really able to go for it and give as good as she gets.’

Billie Piper in I Hate Suzie
Billie Piper in I Hate Suzie

Grace Snell worked as the costume designer on Billie Piper’s new Sky Atlantic show, I Hate Suzie, showing Piper in the lead role of Suzie, an actor in her thirties whose phone is hacked resulting in private, nude photographs being leaked to the public. Piper explained the pivotal role that the costumes had to play: ‘She’s an actress so she has that world to consider in what she wears. But she’s also a chaotic woman and that needs to be reflected too.We wanted these sort of madcap fashion moments, but it always had to come from a place of truth – it couldn’t just be, ‘Oh let’s wear this fabulous coat at the end of episode one because we want to make it shiny’. It has to always come from this place of truth and we were both married to that idea from the beginning.’ The result is an array of relatable clothes which are still glamorous and aspirational, in the same way that Kate Moss’ style often is.

Billie Piper in I Hate Suzie
Billie Piper in I Hate Suzie wearing a paint-splattered faux fur coat

It would be remiss to speak of the importance of costumes in the new slew of TV offerings without mentioning Netflix’s upcoming show, Emily in Paris. After all, the costume department was run by the legendary Patricia Field, responsible for Carrie Bradshaw’s greatest looks.

Lily Collins in Emily in Paris
Lily Collins in Emily in Paris

Starring Lily Collins as an American marketing executive who moves to Paris for her job, the clothes are every bit as brilliant as you might expect from the sartorial brain behind_Sex and the City and__ The Devil Wears Prada_. Think Gossip Girl 2.0, with everything from ballgowns to bright coats, each as meticulously styled as the next. Available to stream from 2 October, it will certainly be a joy to see Field’s work immortalised on screen once more.

lily collins emily in paris fashion
Patricia Field was the costume designer for Emily in Paris

Whether you’re more drawn to the ‘40s silhouettes in Ratched, the flawed glamour of I Hate Suzie or the natty little outfits in Emily in Paris, it seems there’s a show for every style. Even Enola Holmes smacks of current trends, with high-neck dresses and longer hemlines, which can be seen on the wealth of prairie dresses populating new-season collections. Really, though, these shows and their costumes offer us all that much-needed escapism we all deserve right now. And just think – when we have true cause to dress up once more, we’ll have more inspiration than we’ll know what to do with.


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