Easily one of the top 10 — top 5? — ever historical costume movies for the bustle era, The Age of Innocence (1993) was directed by Martin Scorsese and won the Best Costume Design Oscar that year, thanks to the work of Gabriella Pescucci. The performances by Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, Winona Ryder as May Welland, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Ellen Olenska are sublime, but the exquisite costumes are truly breathtaking. Let’s indulge in the eye candy and review, chronologically, all the fabulous bustle gowns worn by the leading ladies, shall we?
May’s White Archery Dress
Sporty yet perfectly ladylike and well-matched with Newland’s white linen.
May’s Pale Print Day Dress
She is still the picture of purity and innocence, per the title. Unknowing, clueless in fact.
May’s Engagement Party Ensembles
May and her girlfriends wear white satin and are swathed in tulle for the big party. There’s so much detail in all these gowns — they’re like reproductions of period originals by Charles Frederick Worth!
May’s Wedding Gown
After those dresses, her actual wedding gown isn’t quite as spectacular, but I’m including it for good measure.
May’s Blue and Gold Stripe Day Dress
She does get some other clothes than pastels. In fact, May wears several very snappy tailored blue gowns.
May’s Navy Plaid Day Dress
And this crisp dark gown.
May’s Purple Evening Gown
But my favorite dress Winona Ryder wears has got to be this purple number.
Ellen’s Blue Opera Gown
Most of what Michelle Pfeiffer’s character wears is dark jewel tones, like this blue gown.
Ellen’s Red Evening Gown
Then there’s this, the red dress, easily the best gown in the entire film. If you don’t love this one, I don’t know why you read Frock Flicks!
Ellen’s Pale Blue-Green Tea Gown
An icy pale gown for the most heartbreaking scene in the movie. It looks so unlike what Ellen has worn previously, as she gives up a chance at happiness.
Ellen’s White Day Dress
A rare view of Ellen in all white.
Ellen’s Green Velvet Coat
And, while not exactly a bustle, we finish off with an elegant coat for that most restrained of kisses.
What’s your favorite bustle outfit from The Age of Innocence?