Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fashion in Film Blogathon: Barry Lyndon

Ulla-Britt Soderlund and Milena Canonero, Barry Lyndon's costume designers, won an Oscar for Best Costumes for their work on the film. Probably my favorite Stanley Kubrick movie, Barry Lyndon is one of the most gorgeous-ever films to watch. I'm still not sure it's a great movie, but it's beautifully done and the costumes are just one example. The detail work is astounding and I'm always amazed that the costumes, hair and make-up actually manage to not look too much like the 1970s. Barry Lyndon has aged well!

Based on the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, Barry Lyndon tells the story of one man's rise in society and subsequent fall. It has its moments of dark humor, which I enjoy very much, but I'm always left wondering if three hours is a bit too much?

I've decided to focus on a few of the ladies in the film, just to keep this post from being any more ridiculously photo-heavy. Also, Ryan O'Neal spends most of the first act in regimentals.

Irishman Redmond Barry's first love is his cousin, Nora (Gay Hamilton). Check out the exquisite lace detail on the gowns both above and below.

Unfortunately, an English soldier proposes to Nora and she accepts!

Redmond Barry fights a duel with the Englishman and has to flee to Dublin. He eventually ends up in the British army fighting in the Seven Years War, which takes him to Germany, where he spends a few days with pretty peasant Lieschen. Unlike Nora, Lieschen (Diana Körner) has only one dress, which is of rougher material and lacks the decorative touches of Nora's wardrobe. While not wealthy, Nora's family is of the landed class; Lieschen has to do farm work, so pretty lace would not be practical!

Eventually escaping his life in the army Redmond becomes a professional gambler and starts meeting aristocratic types across Europe. Unlike Nora and Lieschen, both fresh-faced, the women Redmond meets now are powdered, patched, bewigged and dressed to kill. The men are, too!

Redmond meets Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), who is very wealthy, but has a husband who refuses (at least for a while) to die. Here are her costumes in Act I:

Sir Charles Lyndon is conveniently removed from the picture, so Redmond Barry and Lady Lyndon can get married--Redmond changes his name to "Barry Lyndon." In the second act, we see that Lady Lyndon's clothes are in transition from the 1770s to the 1780s--hats get bigger, wigs get wider and waists get higher.

Finally a few screen captures of Lady Lyndon en déshabille:

A big big thanks to Angela at The Hollywood Revue for hosting the Fashion in Film Blogathon.

Because some Irish food would go pretty well with Barry Lyndon, here are some of my favorite Irish recipes. Just click on each image to go to the related recipe. (You may need to turn off any pop-up blockers.)
Irish Recipes


  1. Those costumes are freaking amazing! I would love to dress up like that for a day.

    E :)

  2. Oh, wow, those costumes are stunning! Barry Lyndon is one of the few Kubrick movies I haven't seen yet, but now I kinda want to see it if only for the costumes. You're right, they did a great job of not letting the hair and make-up look 1970s. A lot of period films from the 60s and 70s fell into that trap, but not this one. Thanks so much for contributing!

  3. Stunning fashions and yummy food - what could be better? Beautiful post, Lauren.

    I love the way you arranged the photos. Wish I could do that sort of thing but I've barely gotten the hang of posting my photos in a straight simple line.

    Simply a gorgeous post. Can you imagine the hours and hours it must have taken back then (in the 18th century) to put these gowns together? I'll bet the 'nobility' kept seamstresses working 24/7.

  4. Gosh, those costumes are glorious! And some of those ladies' hair... just so much of it! I love it! And I agree, they seemed to do a really good job at not letting their 70s aesthetic influence seep in.
    - Emily

  5. Your screencaps are so mesmerizingly beautiful that I find it difficult to focus on anything else. This just makes me want to rewatch the film right now.

  6. Beautiful movie, and so well made! But indeed , 3 hours is a bit too much... I wrote a paper on Barry Lyndon when I was studying film, about the use of colours in the movie :).


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