When I read about this film I couldn’t wait to see it, but I had to be very determined! Most of the showings for the film were during the day! It did make me wonder if the cinema promoters were sidelining it because of it’s ‘niche’ – women’s interest! However this film is hilarious and not one to miss even if you aren’t interested in fashion and dressmaking!
Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returns to her home town of Dungatar (yes it does include the word dung – apt you will agree) in country Victoria in the early 1950s, all grown up and hell-bent on revenge. She’s armed with her Singer sewing machine, steps off the coach and declares, “I’m back, you bastards!”Blamed at age 10 for the death of another child (who was the town bully) and sent away, Tilly has returned with haute couture seamstress skills to deal with her childhood baggage and rewrite the wrongs she feels the “good folk” of Dungatar have visited on her in her past.
As expected the costumes were delightful! Set at the beginning of the 1950’s – when feminine style was at the peak! Kate Winslet is the perfect actress for this, her beautiful hourglass curves make the most of the costumes. I adore the little crochet hat.
What a dress to see a football match! Tilly certainly makes an entrance and we begin to see the gleam in her eye – she knows how to get noticed! The town is full of extraordinary characters – it reminds me of Pricilla Queen of the Dessert – Australia does oddball characters very well!
Tilly is there not just to piece together the past but hopes that the town will give her the acceptance she craves.
Gertrude is the first of Tilly’s customers – Tilly entices her with the promise of a dress for the local dance.
Gertrude certainly was ready for a make over – she had er eye on the most eligible bachelor in the town – the change is so effective soon all the women in the town are flocking to have their dresses made.
This is my favourite Gertrude dress – who would have thought a redhead would carry of red polka dots so beautifully!
The film really did live up to my expectations – so many beautiful dresses to delight the eye, but over and above a heartwarming, laugh out loud story with bittersweet moments. It is deeper than merely costume – not to mention the delightful eye candy in the shape of Liam Hemsworth as Tilly’s love interest – certainly had me reaching for my fan! Ooh la la!
The film is fabulous – laugh out loud hilarious and of course our lovely lady does get her revenge!
You can see a wonderful interview with the dress designer, Marion Boyce for the film here where she talks about the interest in retro fashion. Of course if you are lucky enough to live in Australia the costumes are on tour! (Please let them come to the UK!).
I think there’s a few different things going on at the moment. My personal view is that costumes, especially period things, are having a bit of a renaissance at the moment because we’ve become so incredibly generic.
Everything’s the same out there in chain stores. Everything no matter where you go in the world, everything’s the same. And people are starting to look for something different and something with personality that they can make their own. And I think it’s part of that, where people are actually searching for something different.
It is at the heart of why so many women are turning to dressmaking, seeking to create clothing that helps them to stand out from the crowd. I don’t want to walk around in jeans and a teeshirt the same clothing as Mr D, I want to look like a woman and I am not alone.
It’s really a lost art isn’t it? That whole approach to dressing. We seem to have lost a lot of that today.
Totally. We’ve become very casual. We don’t often have occasion dressing, we leave work and we go out for dinner. And the last bastions of “dressing” are when we go to weddings, and the races (laughs). That’s all we do. We shop in a very different manner.
It’s great because this is the beginning of the Fifties, the renaissance of couture, so it’s still ensemble dressing. Which I really truly adore. I love putting everything together from the shoes to the hat. It’s a really great journey for me. Marion Boyce
Opportunities to dress up may have disappeared – theatres, restaurants even shopping tips are no longer the dress up affairs I remember in my childhood. Society may have lost its sense of occasion – dressing down is the mode! Clothing stores might have rail upon rail of clothing that does nothing to enhance or delight the eye, but as dressmakers we can create our own destiny, forge our own path and thank goodness!