So, last night I watching The Help (2011) for about the third time this year. I adore the film to pieces – and the book even more so. I love it because the characters played are perfectly spot on as to how they are in the pages of the book. Just the right amount of gumption, snobbery and stubborn determination.
It’s brilliant – and the numerous Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards that it won does not surprise me in the slightest. Octavia Spencer (who I will always remember best for playing the role of the pyscho nurse in Ugly Betty) is phenomenal throughout. But what I also love, just as much, is the costumes of the characters.
It’s a range of delicate pastel palettes, combined with bold floral prints for the social butterflies, such as Miss Hilly and her posse. Then, the spectacular juxtaposition of Celia Rae Foote – the tacky yet beautifully dressed woman physically removed from the social realms of the ‘It Crowd.’
It’s a mix of Mad-Men, Suburban Vintage and Southern Belles – and I love it. What’s also worth mentioning is the sharp contrast to the maids’ attire – which is dull in colour, repeated, and lacks both identity and flair. Symbolising the portrayal of how women like Minny and Aibileen were largely seen socially. Without identity, and only as disposable employees.
Costume designer Sharen Davis is of course the genius behind the visual character interpretations – she crafted 50 costumes from scratch using only vintage fabrics. She even gave every character their own colour palette to ensure they fit the authentic Jackson, Mississippi style. Amazing.
Here are some of my favourite costume illustrations from the film – and if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet already, I can only recommend that you do. It summarises the Civil Rights Movement as reality, immerses people into the chaos of black and white cultural divides and expresses humanity through humour – a must watch.