Here’s hoping your Boxing Day is quiet—i.e., you’re closed, you’re closing early, and/or have little to handle as far as returns. If you do have some downtime, consider seeing the critically acclaimed movie The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz as Duchess of Marlborough Sarah Churchill, and Emma Stone as Abigail Hill. You’ll find that it’s superbly acted, costumed, and accessorized, and a pretty naughty way to spend a few hours.
The official trailer for The Favourite (courtesy of Fox Searchlight)
Pearl jewelry is used as abundantly on set as is the C-word throughout the script. What’s interesting is that Academy Award–winning costume designer Sandy Powell, who also looked after such exquisite triumphs of period fashion/jewelry as Shakespeare in Love, Far From Heaven, The Aviator, and Carol, freely admits (to Vulture and Entertainment Weekly) that she wasn’t going for authenticity. The movie is set in 1708 England, and yet the servants’ costumes are made of salvaged denim. The goal, says Powell, was to create a “punk version” of a sumptuous period piece, with liberties taken, and a generally libertine aesthetic pervading the party and hunting scenes, in particular. The rest of the film takes place almost exclusively in the queen’s bedchambers.
Powell favored a largely black-and-white palette—historically inaccurate, but helpful in visually communicating the hierarchy at court and what happens when a lady’s maid ascends in status (spoiler: plain black frocks explode into the flashy “vulgarity of nouveau riche”).
Pearls play an important role in this technique, with the most humongous strands and pendant earrings reserved for Queen Anne—you can almost feel the weight of them around her neck. Abigail’s jewelry—simple faux pearl drops on French wires, a delicate strand—are dwarfed in comparison but, like her gowns, become more opulent and engorged as the plot thickens.
Below, some “favourites” that give a flavor of the shapes, sizes, and colors on view.
There are also a number of tropes, details, and memorable moments that I’ve recapped—in jewelry form—below. I’ll try not to reveal too much, but stop reading if you now if you want to be completely surprised!
Top: Emma Stone plays maid-on-the-make Abigail Hill in The Favourite (photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight).