Filed in: Costume Design, Featured

The 19th Century Costume Design of Netflix’s Enola Holmes

October 9, 2020 | By

Enola HolmesThe Netflix live-action adaptation Enola Holmes is based on the first book of the series, The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by author Nancy Springer, following Millie Bobby Brown‘s Enola, the younger teen sister of Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft Holmes (Sam Claflin). After the sudden disappearance of Enola’s mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), Enola journeys off to locate her mother as she unravels a dangerous conspiracy. Through Enola’s adventure, her wardrobe evolves and transforms between 20-30 costume outfits led by costume designer Consolata Boyle (The Queen, Florence Foster Jenkins).

The costume design takes a unique and fresh perspective. Boyle elaborated, “I focused in on a group of people known as the Victorian Radicals. That group of people were influenced by the colors, which were very intense and very rich. Those Pre-Raphaelite painters were very important to me in the look. Also, the political elements of that period, the beginnings of the suffrage movement for women and the extension of the vote to those who didn’t have it. All of these visual, historical, and political elements affected the way that I approached everything.”

Enola’s wardrobe continually evolves as she filters through outfits throughout her journey. “She goes through these disguises of dressing as a boy, an unlikely lady in her red powderpuff dress, as the widow, and even her school uniform in a way is a disguise. These things were how she progresses through her story, adventures, and discoveries. They visually change with what she’s wearing in order for her to make her progress, to find out what she wants to find out, and to infiltrate and to penetrate all these areas that would maybe be cut off from her. Otherwise, she was able to integrate herself using her disguises, so the disguises became the most important part of how her costumes evolved,” the costume designer expanded.

Enola Holmes

It was important that the material of the costumes was flexible and durable for all the action scenes. “When she is practicing Jiu Jitsu, fencing, archery, wrestling, playing tennis, or going out in into the gardens; it was important that the costumes didn’t look as if they were specifically there for them to do their practice in. I used fabric that is normally used in dance costumes, so there was a lot of flexibility, stretch, and comfort. These specific fabrics were matched completely to the original costume,” Boyle described.

The other fabrics utilized in the movie include linen, denim, Lycra, and silk. The designer enlightened, “I used as much original fabric as possible. Then I would replicate fabric close to the original source. In order to reflect that arts and crafts movement of the Victorian Radicals and the Pre-Raphaelites, I used lots of natural fabrics such as linens and really earthy fabrics. A lot of Enola’s early fabrics are linen, that first dress when she’s cycling on the bike. The school uniform dresses are made of denim because I wanted that hard feeling of the restriction of that school. There’s a mix from the dance fabrics and Lycra to natural fabrics and the silks. Everything was dictated by which character I was actually costuming at the time.”

Enola Holmes

The color palette shifted from the rich aqua marines, reds, greens, browns, and ochres from the rural area to the coolness of the urban city. “That red symbolizes Enola’s amazing resilience, resourcefulness, and courage. For the difference between the rural and the coolness and hardness of the urban, Enola’s crimson dress absolutely jumps out, that was very deliberate, so that emblem and visual note was very strongly struck. Then obviously the black of the widow and the dark gray of the school uniform. Her last dress is that very pale, very bleak, but almost like the bark of a tree, completely a natural unbleached silk with no color in there. The adventure will continue, there’s no information given in that; it’s just she has a free world in front of her, will make her own choices, be her own detective, and she cycles off into the future,” Boyle highlighted.

In total, costume designer Consolata Boyle created and designed between 50-70 distinct costumes for the entire ensemble within Enola Holmes. Of those, Enola’s costumes ranged around 30 including repeats and different disguises. Boyle was especially inspired by the visual look from the Victorian Radicals and the Pre-Raphaelite era. The main fabric and material used to stitch the numerous costumes include linen, denim, silk, and Lycra. The costume design in Enola Holmes reflects Enola’s inner personality, character growth, transformation, and journey for new adventures.

Enola Holmes can now be streamed on Netflix.

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