Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Our Top 10 Style Queens of Period Films

Over at I Am Into This, we are suckers for fashion and style. Yet, give either of us a choice between runway and period costumes, and we'd be happily watching old movies, fawning over retro costumes and screen star looks.

Anyway, that's why we're thrilled to have fashion writer, Samantha Lewis, share with us her favourite screen sirens and style queens of period films.


Sam and Teresa x

*This post was written by Samantha Lewis*

Not everyone can pull off a believable image or look of someone that's from a time decades before their own. However. these leading ladies always seem to nail it, no matter what year the script is set. Here are our top ten style queens:

Nicole Kidman

Kidman fits flawlessly into the year of any role she sets her mind to. But the two highlights in her more recent career have to be Grace of Monaco, where she plays the ever-chic and stylish Grace Kelly, and one of our all-time favourite movies Moulin Rouge. Each of these films showcases the most incredible costumes and a spectacular wardrobe for the Australian beauty.

January Jones

Jones' most noteworthy role is her run on AMC's 1960s drama Mad Men, where she plays Betty, a bored and less-than-motherly housewife. But her reign as a period piece queen extends beyond television. She appeared in the 1987-based re-imagining of Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; We Are Marshall, a film about the plane crash in 1970 that killed 37 football players from Marshall University; and the comedy Pirate Radio set in the 1960s.

She's more than capable of playing roles from before the 20th century as well. She was a frontier woman in Love's Enduring Promise and a former prostitute in the 2013 western Sweetwater.

Emily Browning

Emily hasn't been a household name for long, but her wide acting range has landed her some highly praised roles. Not only can she pull off the look of an early-mid 20th century starlet, but she can also sound like them, which isn't exactly an easy thing to do when you have a thick Australian accent.

Even though the time isn't specifically mentioned in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, it's most likely a 1930s backdrop. Browning looked great in the gothic style costume, but what really caught our eye was this long blue petticoat she wore. Where can we get one of those!?

She also showed off her early 20th century flair in Summer in February, but we're really looking forward to seeing her mid-century look as the wife of a gangster in next year's Legend.

Jessica Lange

Granted, Jessica does have a little advantage over some of the other stars on the list as she was already working during what would be considered period times today. However, she's using her past experience to show how perfect she is for recreating those roles today.

Most recently, Lange has shown off her skill for fitting into any period while working on American Horror Story. In the first season, she played Constance, a woman whose clothing and home seem perpetually stuck in the '60s. The second season of the show takes place in 1964 and, again, Lange fits flawlessly as the once-promiscuous-turned-nun-turned-promiscuous-turned-insane Sister Jude.

Jennifer Connelly

Connelly's striking looks have landed her some of the most memorable roles in Hollywood. Her list of period piece projects includes films such as Once Upon a Time in America, Mulholland Falls, Creation and Winter's Tale. She also played a powerful role in A Beautiful Mind, set in the '40s/'50s, where she won the Oscar for "Best Actress in a Supporting Role."

However, if you grew up in the '80s or '90s you probably know her best for her role in the 1991 film, The Rocketeer, where she dons a classic '40s look of perfectly quaffed curls, bold, ruby red lips, and a dress so fantastic that anyone with £5909 handy would snatch it up in an instant. Interested? You can check it out for yourself here.

Natalie Dormer

This English beauty has been in a slew of period pieces. From the staring role as Anne Boleyn in Showtime's The Tudors, to another stint as royalty as Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones.

But her skills aren't exclusive to the 14th and 15th centuries. She's played Gemma, a 1970s nurse in Rush, and King Henry VIII's sister-in-law, Elizabeth, in W.E.

Her characters do seem to usually have one thing in common however. Dormer's sly smile paired with her kind eyes make her perfect for the role of a cunning seductress. In Captain America: The First Avenger, she played Pvt. Lorraine, who tried to seduce Captain America away from Peggy Carter by kissing him in a closet.

Rosario Dawson

You could call Dawson beautiful (and you'd be right) but it's her unique features that really make her stand out. She shined in 2012's Hotel Noir as a 1950s maid. A mix of crime and comedy, the film was somewhat of a spoof on mid-century detective films, so each character's dress is over-the-top, stereotypical 1950s attire, but you won't hear us complaining!

Maybe it's the eyes, the smile, or the way that she fills out a pair of bellbottoms, but what whatever it is, Dawson is the perfect choice for pieces set in the '70s and '80s. She played the wife of a man mixed up with Irish-Mob in Ash Wednesday, which was set in the '80s, as well as the role of Mimi Marquez in Rent, set in 1989.

Keira Knightley

Some might find it difficult to name one of Knightley's films that wasn't a period piece. She became a household name after appearing in the first Pirates of the Caribbean, and subsequent sequels. She has since become a favourite for films taking place before the 19th century, such as Pride & Prejudice, The Duchess, Anna Karenina, and King Arthur.

But she's also played incredible characters from the 20th century, such as in The Edge of Love, Never Let Me Go, Atonement, Silk, and A Dangerous Method.

Carey Mulligan

Mulligan and Knightley have collaborated on a few period pieces together. Mulligan had roles alongside of Knightley in Pride & Prejudice and Never Let Me Go.

Mulligan's classic look has led her to roles in period films like My Boy Jack set around the time of WWI, Public Enemies, set in the 1930s, as well as An Education and Inside Llewyn Davis, both set in the 1960s.

Her most publicised film as of late has been the 2013 remake of The Great Gatsby, where she played Daisy Buchanan. She also has another period piece coming out later this year that is sure to be a hit. It's titled Suffragette and it focuses on the early foot soldiers of the feminist movement.

Helena Bonham Carter

Picturebox hit the nail on the head when describing her role in Enid with the following quote: "Need we say it? Anything with Helena Bonham Carter has got to be worth a punt, right? Here she is—on exceptional form as ever—in a role that bagged her the International Emmy Award for Best Actress, playing a writer who enchanted an entire generation."

Carter has been in 80 films, including period pieces such as The Kings Speech, Big Fish, Toast, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, A Merry War, The Heart of Me and The Wings of the Dove, for which she was nominated for an Oscar.

She's also going to be in Suffragette with Carey Mulligan later this year.

Honourable Mention: Rachel McAdams

Although she doesn't have a lot of period pieces under her belt as of yet, we had to mention McAdams for her roles in Married Life, the Sherlock Holmes series, and of course, The Notebook. Her success in those roles shows her promise for more early/mid-20th century films in the future.

We couldn't decide on just one actress from Downton Abbey, so I'll just give the whole cast an honourable mention. Although, if we had to, we'd probably have to pick Jessica Brown Findlay as Sybil - she could rock the flapper look and a pair of women's pants before it was even a style.

Who are your favourite period piece actresses?