Maisie Barlow

⋅ Costumier ⋅

Lady Chatterley’s lover Lady Chatterleys Lover CAD book

Originally a book by DH Laurence, Lady Chatterley’s lover was published in 1928 and at the time was an extremely controversial story about sex, lust and love. Although ahead of its time back in the 20s, reading it now as a modern woman I found it profoundly misunderstanding of women and stunted in its ideologies. Therefore my concept when taking this forward as a production was that I wanted to view it from a feminist lens, highlighting the power of women’s sexuality in the modern age.

I chose this story as my final year piece as I wanted to get experience in complete historical accuracy for a piece. I spent weeks researching every area of 1920s clothing from the silhouettes to the fabric to the shape of a mans shirt collar. I made sure I also researched undergarments, accessories, hair and makeup to make a well rounded and historical accuratel piece. The story spans from 1917 to 1928 so there is a visible timeline of styles within my designs and a character arc especially form Lady Chatterly that shows her evolving from the innocent doting wife to taking control of what she truly wants and ending up with the man she loves.

My design objective for this project was setting it as a film in the original era post first world war and with historically accurate costuming. I took a film script of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and updated it to include Women’s Suffrage ideals. I wanted it to focus less on sex and more on the liberation of women. I took the suffragette movement and added it in to this story. As Connie’s character develops I want to her to support women’s suffrage. The suffragette movement was occurring at the same time this book was being written and actually the year of publish and the date of women actually getting the vote is the same year of 1928!

I decided to make Lady Chatterely's final dress from my production where she wears a classic 1920s evening gown to the final ball. I designed and printed the silk of her dress to reflect her story up to this point, the fluid watercolour print reflecting the stream where she meets Mellors by and the fluidity of her liberation. The colours of the fabric revolve around purple and green to reflect the colours of Women’s Suffrage. I fully draped the dress on the mannequin and paired it with a green silk slip underneath, embellished beautifully with jewels. The beading was most important to me in this piece, I wanted to make her costume powerful and strong, covered in symbols of her strength and liberation. The hand beading I achieved is in the same purple, green and white colours and takes the shapes of the 1920s and highlights the strong silhouette. I topped it off by making a pearl skull cap and a clutch bag with the beads that mirrored the dress. I can certainly imagine Connie Chatterley wearing this to a ball as she greets the men who treat her as ‘Cliffords wife’ with contempt.