Would Emma Corrin’s Lady Chatterley Shop at Reformation?

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Let’s be honest: The romance in period dramas is reliably great, but the fashion is rarely relatable or easily imitated. Shows such as Bridgerton and Downton Abbey tend to favor broad costume dressing, opting for creating pieces solely for the camera over scavenging out in the real world and curating garments. It makes sense for the escapist works. The chief goal is pulling viewers into binge-worthy pastiches of the past. But here’s the major trade-off: Rarely can you imagine yourself in the characters’ shoes. Literally. The clothes are meant to draw you into the rich, immersive worlds, not provide inspiration for your next haul. 

Netflix’s new adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s classic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover takes a decidedly different approach toward depicting fits of yesteryear. The film’s costume designer, Emma Fryer, says she was interested in a “fresher” visual interpretation of Lawrence’s enduring heroine. Fryer looked to a number of contemporary brands and inspirations, including Needle & Thread and Zimmermann, to outfit Connie Chatterley (Emma Corrin). The result of using buzzy contemporary brands for a period drama is an intriguing and occasionally off-kilter today-meets-yesterday aesthetic. Think 1920s by way of the 2020s. One can easily envision discovering a top with a sweetheart neckline at Reformation that exudes Wragby Estate energy. 

In the romance, which begins streaming December 2, The Crown star Emma Corrin plays Lady Chatterley, who, at the start of the novel, marries the charismatic and wealthy landowner Sir Clifford. Not too long after, Sir Clifford heads off to fight in World War I, where he sustains major injuries and returns home a wheelchair user. The development—remember this is the early 20th century—puts a significant strain on the couple’s frosty aristocratic marriage. Soon, a dissatisfied Lady Chatterley finds herself falling for the property’s gruff and mysterious gamekeeper, played by Jack O’Connell. What follows is a steamy tale of clandestine and forbidden cross-class romance and sex that, when first published in 1928, triggered obscenity bans in a number of countries. 

As a woman who reads James Joyce, speaks her mind, and prioritizes sexual fulfillment, Lady Chatterley feels like a modern woman. So Fryer decided it made sense to dress her with contemporary sensibilities. Connie dons a variety of bias-cut dresses and skirts in gem-colored velvets, silks, and chenille that could be found on Net-a-Porter and The RealReal. In one scene, the character wears an electric-blue-hued dress boldly accessorized with a hot pink sash. It’s something you might see in an Alessandro Michele–era Gucci ad. And a scene featuring Corrin in a star yellow velvet dress reminds one of past Sies Marjan collections (RIP). Fryer has masterfully adapted Lady Chatterley’s 1920s British genteel world to modern tastes. 

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