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MiNDFOOD Reviews ‘Rebecca’: a tepid retelling saved by its on-point 1930s fashion

MiNDFOOD Reviews ‘Rebecca’: a tepid retelling saved by its on-point 1930s fashion

While the characters in 'Rebecca' might be a little tepid, its saving grace is the fashion, writes MiNDFOOD Managing Editor Phoebe Watt.

MiNDFOOD Reviews ‘Rebecca’: a tepid retelling saved by its on-point 1930s fashion

It’s been widely panned since premiering on Netflix over the weekend, but the on-point 1930s fashion makes Rebecca not the worst watch you could fill a two-hour window with this weekend.

Starring Armie Hammer as wealthy widow Maxim de Winter, Lily James as his new bride, and Kristen Scott-Thomas as the long-serving housekeeper whose loyalty to the first Mrs de Winter gives her a villainous edge, the acting in the retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s much-loved gothic horror novel is… fine.

But while the characters might be a little tepid and two-dimensional (the film’s biggest crime in the eyes of critics seems to be not living up to the original Hitchcock adaptation, which starred Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine and won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1940), its saving grace is the costumes which take the best bits of the era’s masculine suiting, feminine prints and preppy sportswear, and subtly rework them for a modern audience.

Costume designer Julian Day (Bohemian Rhapsody; Rocketman) masterminded the looks, which in the case of James range from ruffled blouses and Liberty print dresses, to wide-leg trousers and high-necked knits straight from the playbook of 30s icons Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.

Then there’s the mustard tweed skirt suit that the heroine wears in the climactic courtroom scenes, and that is no doubt being replicated on the Zara production line as we speak.

With Day drawing inspiration from Wallis Simpson and Coco Chanel in pulling together the main character’s wardrobe, things could’ve gotten a little stuffy.

But far from veering into mothball territory, the vintage vibe feels not just fresh, but in fact a perfect balance of polished and practical that many of us are likely craving at the tail-end of a year in which we’ve all spent more time in track pants than we’d probably like to admit.

Which is to say, whether it’s relaxed French Riviera-chic or a cottage-core combination of ankle-length floral dresses and long-line overcoats, the second Mrs de Winter is a walking mood board for our dream spring/summer 2021 wardrobe.

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