Gone with the Wind — a true fashion reference

Gone with the Wind

a true fashion reference

After about 80 years after its release, Gone With The Wind remains one of the most iconic films of all time. Be it for the story or simply Scarlett O’Hara’s character, the film turned out to be one of the most successful in history.
What most don’t know is how much effort the film took with over three years of production and an array of changes in writers, directors and cinematographers. One member of the team that remained present and involved throughout the process was legendary designer Walter Plunkett, who created more than 5,000 separate items of clothing for more than fifty major characters. Plunkett worked in more than 150 projects in his prolific, award winning career – including Signing in the Rain and Little Women, becoming a real authority on period costumes in Hollywood.

Scarlett O’Harra’s Lumber Mill Dress Sketch By Walter Plunkett
Costume design holds an incredible power if done right – it should create a believable new world, one that the audience will believe is realistic.
Plunkett was known for his exhaustive historic research and exceptional details, actually touring the South of the United States to study materials and original pieces of clothing from that time, meeting with author Margaret Mitchell to discuss the characters and sketch their personal style. His work in the film used clothing in a perfect way – transported the audience thousands of miles away, subtly nuanced the changes in character development and enhanced the message of every scene. Scarlett’s outfits are perhaps one of the most remembered elements in the film and the designs have become the most iconic of the last century of filmography.
“Plunkett has come to life and turned in magnificent Scarlett costumes…so we won’t need anyone else.”
• Selznick, producer of “Gone with the Wind”
Film costumes are one of the biggest tools for the audience to “read” a character and their story, their frame of mind or their personality. Scarlett’s outfits see her grow from child to woman, from rich to poor, from naive to seductive, from helpless to powerful in a stunning way. This way, her costumes are memorable not only because they are truly beautiful – handmade, perfectly seamed, and elaborately embellished, but because they helped tell Scarlett’s story from start to finish and reinforced her fiery, rebellious nature and resolve.
Plunkett therefore perfectly contrasted the changes in Scarlett’s life circumstances and her personal growth from innocence to maturity. The first half of the film saw Scarlett dressed in light tulle and cotton while in the second half, showing her affluence after her marriages and life experiences, she is dressed in silks and velvet garments of darker, jewel colours. In the film, clothing and the fashion of the time were perfectly manipulated to tell the story and carry the audience through the internal and external changes of one of cinema’s most iconic characters.

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