Movie Inspiration of the week – Orlando (1992)

Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.
― Virginia Woolf, Orlando
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Costume Designer Sandy Powell who has won three Oscars for Best Costume Design (Shakespeare in Love, 1998; The Aviator, 2014 and The Young Victoria, 2009) and is responsible for sartorially composing characters in some of my favourite movies.

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For it was this mixture in her of man and woman, one being uppermost and then the other, that often gave her conduct an unexpected turn. The curious of her own sex would argue, for example, if Orlando was a woman, how did she never take more than ten minutes to dress? And were not her clothes chosen rather at random, and sometimes worn rather shabby? And then they would say, still, she has none of the formality of a man, or a man’s love of power.

― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

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Yet again, though bold and active as a man, it was remarked that the sight of another in danger brought on the most womanly palpitations. She would burst into tears on slight provocation. She was unversed in geography, found mathematics intolerable, and held some caprices which are more common among women than men, as for instance that to travel south is to travel downhill.

― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

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Whether, then, Orlando was most man or woman, it is difficult to say and cannot now be decided. .

― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

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The film’s social commentary is never far from the surface, however, and “the sheer crippling unmanageability of Orlando’s bourgeois female attire… brilliantly conveys feminine physical and social constraint” (Pidduck, 106).

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To be born a woman has been to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men. The social presence of women has developed as a result of their ingenuity in living under such tutelage within such a limited space. But this has been at the cost of a woman’s self being split in two. A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself.

John Berger, Ways of Seeing

 

‘we are one with a human face’.

 

 

…not a blend of masculine and feminine characteristics, but an absence of them, and where androgynes are perceived to rely on neither masculine nor feminine behaviors.

Larin McLaughlin

 

Photos via Costume Captures

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