The Favourite

Silkstone Barbie wearing an 18th Century dress

2019 kicks off with my new favourite movie: The Favourite, by Yorgos Lanthimos. Starring Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, this is a movie about the ageing Queen Anne’s reign in the early 18th Century. Historical costume dramas are a favourite of mine and I doubly love this as the costumes are by Sandy Powell, a multiple Oscar winning designer. I’ll admit I am a total fangirl. I have just seen the movie and I LOVED it, I command all to go and see it!

See The Favourite costumes!

I was thrilled to see that The Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin are currently exhibiting a selection of costumes and photography from the movie. YES! I was so excited to see these beautiful costumes up close as they often appear only fleetingly on screen. So it’s a fantastic opportunity to see the details, the fabrics, and how they have been constructed.

The Favourite Original Costumes
Queen Anne costume from The Favourite movie
A coat fit for a Queen, ermine draped finery for her Majesty

The Lighthouse Cinema has featured some incredible movie props and poster exhibitions over the years. It’s such a great cinema, so it’s no surprise they have this fantastic exhibition of costumes and photography from The Favourite. I believe there should be a royal order to go see the movie at the Lighthouse!

18th Century costume form the favourite movie
Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough Costume
18th century costumes from the favourite movie
Frills and Frock coats
18th century costumes from the favourite movie
The Rt Hon Robert Harley and Abigail Masham Costumes
Behind the scenes

Historical Barbie

Of course this movie made me want to make an 18th Century style frock for Barbie, immediately.

Silkstone Barbie wearing an 18th Century dress

The costumes are all designed around a fairly monochromatic palette so I took my lead from that. Sandy Powell used lots of interesting modern fabrics for the costumes: denim, laser cut vinyl and cotton. Also, texture plays a very important part. So for Barbie’s gown I used a a 1980’s embroidered black shantung because doll size it looks like a heavy vintage brocade. Perfect!

Silkstone Barbie wearing an 18th Century dress

The details

First of all, the embroidered skirt is separate from the bodice, and has a split front with an underskirt in plain shantung. Also I made some very basic panniers to give the skirt the correct shape. Panniers would have been worn over the petticoat and corset and they were like baskets hanging either side of the hips.

Next up the bodice, and a heavily darted bodice gives a tight corset effect. In fact, I very nearly made a tiny corset before sense took hold, but it may happen in the future. I can’t promise that I won’t attempt this.

Silkstone Barbie wearing an 18th Century dress

Also, to mimic the stomacher of an original historical gown I made the front panel of the bodice in contrasting plain fabric. (Yep, very nearly tried to do a separate stomacher panel Barbie size too.) Originally the stomacher would fit over the corset and under the front opening of the bodice, it could be embellished too.

Finally, white frills are actually her shift peeking out under her corset and sleeves. Equally important is the belt detail on the original dresses. Anyone familiar with my blog will know that, above all else, I will always try and add a tiny belt.

Silkstone Barbie wearing an 18th Century dress
Silkstone Barbie wearing an 18th Century dress

More gowns?

It was so enjoyable making this Barbie size 18th Century gown, it’s a lot of fun to research historical dress construction and fabrics. I studied Costume Design a few years back so I love to revisit this and experiment with historical shapes and fabrics. I’ll definitely be making more historical gowns, Barbie size. If you’re interested in that kinda thing I have made some tiny historical costumes before, you can see my Sindy Anne Boleyn here, and a Wolf Hall gown too.

Silkstone Barbie wearing an 18th Century dress

Silkstone Barbie wearing an 18th Century dress

Silkstone Barbie wearing an 18th Century dress

Here’s a little trailer of The Favourite to whet your appetite….

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Films

Well I’m off now to try and make some tiny corsets and petticoats.

I may be some time.

Wish me luck!

5 thoughts

  1. You should send this on to Graham Norton. I’ll bet he’ll have Olivia Coleman on soon! Exquisite!

  2. Wow, this is incredible work! I love the fine details, and how you recreated the elements of this elaborate gown in Barbie-size. Also – The Lighthouse is hands-down the best cinema in Dublin, and I am already planning to go and check out those costumes. Thanks for the heads-up!

    1. Thank you! I really enjoyed making this historical gown, it was so much fun! And the movie is just fantastic, you’ll love the exhibition at the Lighthouse too!

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