This spring has been hectic but so much fun! Last time I introduced the exhibition we have been working on. Today we are taking a look at the Bennets! First, a group from the 1995 BBC ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – perhaps the best known costumes by now. They were designed by Dinah Collin and we have to say her team did a wonderful job. This was the beginning of the modern Austen-era, so they had to make nearly every costume from scratch. It was a challenge to find the right fabrics, so they screen printed patterns on muslins, and used a lot of Indian sari-fabrics.
Jane Bennet´s cotton dress and linen spencer. Soft pastels suit Jane´s sweet disposition.
Elizabeth Bennet often wears robust, earthy tones. This is her silk dress and brown embroidered spencer.
These two ensembles are seen in the very beginning of the story when the Bennets are walking home from church, and Mrs Bennet is going on about a certain new neighbour. Susannah Harker played Jane and Jennifer Ehle WAS Elizabeth. Pride and Prejudice, 1995.
Lizzie wears the silk dress frequently. Perhaps you rememember it from the disastruous first proposal… The girls´gowns all seem to have buttons in the back, which was coming in fashion in the 1810´s.
It was nice to create the daily mess in the Bennets´ drawing room. The girls have different interests. Mary is reading or playing the pianoforte, Kitty and Lydia are trimming a bonnet, and Jane is embroidering. The portrait is the real-life countess Brahe who lived in Skokloster castle during the first half of the 19th century.
And then there is of course Mrs Bennet. Her light wool dress with printed floral pattern.
Mrs B wears a frilled cap, a matching lace shawl and a coral necklace.
The dress is front-closing. A narrow silk ribbon ties the neckline. Hooks and snaps (!) fasten the skirt. The gauzy chemisette is tied around the waist.
The mannequin lacks mrs B´s persona, portrayed so annoyingly and spot-on by Allison Steadman. It is easier to see the cap and frills here. Benjamin Withrow played mr Bennet. At first glance she is the demanding wife and he is the long suffering husband, but I have greater sympathy with her today. She is only trying to secure the girls´future, since her husband seems to have given up, spending his days in the library, or talking to her in a patronising tone…
This dress has been used in several other productions. Read more about it over on Recycled movie costumes.
This concludes the first of several rooms. The following two rooms are very different. Through a bedroom is the tower room packed with information for those who wish to learn more about the world of Jane Austen. There are interviews with Dinah Collin and Jenny Beavan, and a handful of Swedish experts on fashion history, English literature and of course Jane Austen.
This exquisite piece of furniture, ca 1750, doubles as ‘Jane Austen´s desk’. Piles of Miss Austen´s letters and manuscripts are scattered on the desk and chair.
Come back soon for more!