If there’s anything the pandemic has affirmed, it’s our need for escapism.
And what better form of fantasy than a delicious adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s most successful novel, 1938’s Rebecca? Luckily for us, the gods at Netflix have crafted just that, the fifth adaptation of the hit novel, which was last interpreted by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940.
Featuring both Armie Hammer and Lily James, Rebecca is a sordid tale of sex, murder, power, jealousy and gender and tells the story of a nameless ingénue who marries a wealthy widower and relocates to live at his sprawling Cornish estate, Manderley. Despite the seemingly romantic context, this tale is far from a love story.
James’ character, who intentionally remains nameless throughout the tale, transitions from frumpy to fabulous in practically the blink of an eye.
Kickstarting her character’s costume journey, James first appears in the film wearing a frumpy and lifeless brown skirt suit. Indeed, while the skirt suit was incorporated into a slew of brand’s recent spring/summer 2021 shows (namely Chanel, Dior and Mulberry), the two-piece wasn’t intended in this instance to evoke a trend.
“We started out with her as a bit of a dowdy lady’s maid and then she turns into a romantic figure as she falls in love with Maxim,” Rebecca’s costume designer, Julian Day, told the New York Post.
Day (whose previous projects include Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman) referenced vintage fashion photography when conceiving the film’s fashions and drew inspiration from the style icons of Old Hollywood including Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.
As James’ character develops, we see her transition from frumpy maid garb to light and breezy colours and silhouettes which reflect her new and evolving relationship with Maxim and, towards the end of the film (not to give any spoilers), as she asserts herself as lady of the manor, she introduces a coterie of sharp coats and power tailoring in an array of bold and unapologetic hues.
“I really wanted to get across this idea of a really strong woman,” Day explained in another interview, “Yes, she cracks and she stumbles, but essentially she is an incredibly strong character and I wanted to give her not necessary masculine silhouettes but something that reflected that power.”
The big collared blouses that have become ubiquitous in fashion? Rebecca has lashings. The power blazers we’ve been encouraged to buy for sharpened-up Zoom-dressing? You can expect lots of those.
Fancy replicating Rebecca’s sublime fashion? These are the pieces to buy now.
Get the look
All Saints Astrid Puppytooth Blazer, £129, buy now
& Other Stories Alpaca Blend Scallop Knit Sweater, £85, buy now
Arket Tapered High-Waist Trousers, £58, buy now
Pretty in pink
Get the look
RIXO Moss floral print tied-neck blouse at Farfetch, £205, buy now
2nd Day Fray trousers at Zalando, £95.99, buy now
Yuzefi Dolores Bag in Auburn, £460, buy now
Get the look
Paloma Wool Tere Intarsia Knitted Beret at Liberty London, £50, buy now
Acne Studios Oversized Wool Coat in Blue at 24S, £850, buy now
London Cashmere Company Gloves, £25, buy now