I watched Jane Eyre recently – the newest remake, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. I had meant to see it when it was out in cinemas but finally got around to watching it on pay per view, having missed it in theatres. I have to be in the mood to watch period dramas. I absolutely love them but I can’t just watch them any old time. Don’t ask me why; I have yet to figure that out.
It was a good adaptation; I really appreciated that it didn’t try to just do what every version had done before, but rather changed a few aspects of the telling of the story that still did not alter the story itself. Case in point: the film is mostly narrated through flashbacks, opening at the point at which Jane has fled Rochester and arrives at St. John Rivers’ door, having traversed the soaking wet Yorkshire moors for days on end. This, I suppose, is the dramatic climax of the story and to start at this point and then tell the past through flashbacks draws the viewer in from the very beginning. Also, director Cary Fukanaga must have worked out at this point that the majority of the audience will be familiar with the story. Therefore, there is no real point in wasting a ton of film time on the background and childhood of Jane; we know she went through several hardships that lead her to the decision to flee Rochester and the film skips through those fairly quickly while still giving them weight: not an easy task.
Much of this is probably due to Wasikowska’s acting. There were multiple scenes where she actually goes for a long while without saying anything at all, yet she conveys so much in her expressions and movements. In truth, I don’t recall Jane being particularly garrulous in the book so this is more true to form than previous adaptations, yet a risky move, as today’s audiences like lots of action and lots of dialogue. Still, I thought it paid off and made for a Gothic, deeply moving retelling of the story.
And with Dame Judi Dench rounding out the cast, it was bound to be good, no?
Anyway, enough about the movie. What it reminded me of was how beautiful Victorian fashions were. Hang on, hang on, stick with me, I don’t mean for today’s world. Or do I?
I’ve never been much of a goth, or even a vintage, dresser, but the way in which women wore such structured and elegantly feminine clothing was so stunning. The fashion in the movie itself was fairly drab, in keeping with the monotone landscape and Gothic feel they were going for with the remake. But the basics were there. I started thinking about how this could be adapted in today’s world.
Of course, Emily Blunt’s 2009 shoot for Vanity Fair was beyond amazing, but it isn’t intended to be realistic daily wear (I don’t think…)
In today’s fashion, however, I would say the Victorian influence remains in smaller snatches through accessorizing. An example: the ruffle scarves that were so popular last fall and no doubt will continue to be popular this year also (such as the one below, from Ann Taylor):
And the hefty metallic cuffs that exhibit design inspiration from the Victorian era:
And of course let’s not forget about those chandelier earrings that we all know and love, which are distinctly Victorian in flavour. Check out this pair of Lucky Brand chandeliers from Macys for just $42:
So if you want Victorian elegance but don’t want to wear a corset and girdle, there’s always, you know, a pair of earrings you could throw on. That doesn’t sound like a bad compromise, does it?