Under my list of achievements in 2020, watching every trending show and dissecting its fashion, sits at the top. The hollowed shape on my couch can attest to the same. My individual style may have been questionable throughout the year, but 2020 saw some great on-screen styles, that instantly teleported me to a different era, something that was much needed. Fashion is therapeutic for those who view it from the lens of art. It silently helps the characters to weave the story, build the narrative and create a larger-than-life vision on screen. Can you imagine any of the iconic characters without their signature looks? I don’t think so.
This year’s characters may have been from different time periods and walks of life, but a strong sartorial sense was a common link between all of them. Whether it was Beth Harmon in Queen’s Gambit, Grace Fraser in The Undoing, or Emily from Emily in Paris, they all portrayed assertive women who dressed well and meant business. Powerful characters were microscopically designed on the blank canvas of fashion, accounting all their attributes and quirks that make them who they are.
Here’s presenting the list of ELLE’s best dressed fictional characters of 2020
Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) In The Queen’s Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit follows the journey of a gifted chess player, Beth Harmon, who navigates through a complicated life and triumphs at the end. From her ill-fitted uniform-clad days at the orphanage to her hand-me-down style when she lives with her adoptive parents, Harmon’s fashion journey evolves as her character does. It’s only when she starts making her own money as a chess player, we see Beth finally coming into her own. Gabriele Binder, the show’s costume designer, created a graph for her character, intelligently using her costumes. Set in the ‘60s, Beth’s transforms goes from an awkward teenager who wears pinafores that are a size up, with worn-out cardigans and a common haircut that is identical to every girl at the Convent, to a girl who finally metamorphoses into a complete dynamo, and beats patriarchy with a flick of her finger. Later in her twenties, you see Harmon’s chic side fleshed out in well-fitted sheath dresses, pleated miniskirts and checkered overcoats. Looks from archival Bob Mackie, Miu Miu and Loewe dominated her closet. It’s the different detailed collars, fasteners, cuffs, pockets, pleats and other construction elements that contribute to the making of this minimalistic queen.
Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman) In The Undoing
Trust Nichole Kidman to take your soul to the darkest of alleys through her showcase of complex characters while being dressed like a complete femme fatale. The mystery drama that is The Undoing follows the murder of Grace Fraser’s husband’s mistress. The brain-tingling plotline will keep you hooked till the end, but it’s Nicole’s wardrobe that will keep you indulged even after the show is over. As Dr Fraser, a New York-based psychologist, married to a renowned oncologist, Nichole perfectly dresses for the part in flowing designer dresses, coats, scarves, boots and statement handbags. The show-stopping number has to be the metallic pleated dress from Clare Waight Keller’s first Givenchy resort collection that she wore in the pilot. Setting the tone of her character based in the elite segment of the Big Apple, Danish costume designer Signe Sejlund, did complete justice to her autumnal closet by wrapping her in a rich palette of merlot, burgundy, olive and claret. The deep velvet coats complemented her mysterious personality that was different from the other Upper East Side women. Her outfits in the show became the armour of her multi-layered personality. A genius move that was recognised by the audience and critics alike.
Lata (Tanya Maniktala) And Saeeda Bai (Tabu) In A Suitable Boy
Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy was adapted on celluloid by the maverick Mira Nair. Known for her nuanced art of story-telling. Mira spun her signature magic in this period drama as well. It is easy to project a character through OTT ensembles set in bold and bright backdrops, but the true task is to bring out the beauty in simplicity. A job that was prolifically done by costume designer Arjun Bhasin. Within a period of 10 weeks, Bhasin created a staggering number of 900 costumes for the enormous cast of the show. The protagonist lata, along with other female characters, wore the luscious six-yard in style. Saris in khadi, organza, linen, brocade, tulle, crêpe de chine, georgette, tussar and Maheshwari were all hand-loomed woven by weavers across India. Tabu, as Saeeda Bai looked poised and ethereal in voluminous anarkalis, ghararas, and anagarakhas, punctuated by her signature head-covering dupattas. No fancy embellishments and surface ornamentations were seen, the pure richness of the fabric in a myriad of colours took precedence over opulence. Set between 1949-1950, Arjun effortlessly encapsulated the old-world charm of that era, without diluting it with today’s modern Indian fashion.
Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) In Emily In Paris
Some loved her, some hated her, but none could ignore her. When Lily Collins posted the first snippet of herself as Emily, it created a lot of buzz around the show. With Sex And The City famed Darren Star and costume designer Patricia Fields in charge, people expected nothing less than iconic fashion from the legendary duo. While many understood Emily’s over-the-top American style in Paris, the French weren’t particularly impressed by her excessive usage of barrette and Eiffel printed jackets. But for a feel-good show that was meant to be a no-brainer, I loved how unabashedly excited Emily was about her new life and new job role. Archive Chanel, Versace, Vivienne Westwood, Schiaparelli, Off-White with a balanced mix of street-style would best describe her on-screen looks. Bold jewel tones, clashing prints, tweed jackets, statement cross-body bags, and bucket hats were some trendy takeaways from the show that inspired young influencers on Instagram.