The Dressmaker is a 2015 Australian film based on the book by Rosalie Ham. It stars Kate Winslet, Judy Davies and the rather delectable Liam Hemsworth (ahem!). It is a quirky, darkest of black comedy that deals with revenge of the highest order. At times it is deliciously funny, and sort of moves between film noir and spaghetti western. It is also exquisitely beautiful and one of the most stylish movies ever made. In short, you need to watch this film.
Fashion is a really important part of the movie, which is set in 1951 in the smallest of small towns. Kate Winslet’s character Tilly is the dressmaker of the title, returning to the town after a 25 year absence. She was abruptly removed from the town, and her mother,as just a child, after she was accused of the death of a young boy, the son of a wealthy scion of the town. The real truth, which is discovered during the course of the film, is somewhat different.
In her absence, Tilly has been in Paris, and has worked as a dressmaker. ‘Is it Dior?’ is one of the first lines in the film, and Dior styling, created by Tilly, is at the crux of the film, as her designs are used to change the lives of many of the citizens, including the mousy Gertrude, who is transformed into a slinky screen siren through Tilly’s skills.
One memorable scene in the film shows Tilly able to memorise the town’s footballers, first in a glamorous red dress, and then, when the team complain about the dress, in an equally glorious black gown, with Winslet giving off Gilda/Veronica Lake vibes.
Kate Winslet gives an amazing performance in this movie, which shows she would’ve been equally at home as a hard boiled heroine in 40’s and 50’s film noir. The movie beautifully shows how much clothes can change a person, their attitude, their persona, and even their life, and the designs on show in this movie are so exquisite it is truly a feast for the eyes and senses. At the end of the film, when Tilly leaves for Paris, she leaves in incredible style that Dior himself would’ve been proud of.