TBT: Enchanted April (1991)

20

Enchanted April (1991) is a beautiful, perfect, engrossing movie. It sounds small: four Englishwomen rent a castle in Italy for a month in the 1920s, and are transformed by “Italy.” But it’s surprisingly touching and moving, and if you haven’t given yourself the present of luxuriating in this film, do it now!

There are four main characters: Lottie (Josie Lawrence) is a somewhat flowery middle-class housewife, while Rose (Miranda Richardson) works tirelessly for the poor and is ignored by her romance-novelist husband. The two hatch the plan to rent the house, then along comes Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright), a cranky older woman who lives in the past, and Caroline (Polly Walker), a gorgeous socialite who is bored of society. All four want something MORE, and the more they find is their own inner selves as well as connection with each other — and, surprisingly, some men! Speaking of which, Alfred Molina and Jim Broadbent play husbands, while cutie Michael Kitchen is the property owner.

Enchanted April (1991)

Alfred Molina

Enchanted April (1991)

Is Michael Kitchen known enough to be worthy of a Man Candy Monday post? Discuss!

Enchanted April (1991)

Jim Broadbent

The costumes were designed by Sheena Napier (Howards End 2017, GalavantParade’s EndBallet Shoes, The Heart of Me, The Turn of the Screw), and she was justifiably nominated for an Oscar for her work on this film. Sadly I can’t find any interviews or commentary by her on the film, but there is an interesting recap of a talk she did talking about her career on the now-defunct Damn, That’s Some Fine Tailoring courtesy of Internet Archive.

When the film begins, Lottie and Rose are pinched, worn, and beaten down by the greyness of life in London. Their wardrobe reflects this, being mostly browns and blacks, although Napier includes some great details, particularly on the hats:

Enchanted April (1991)

Great details: the patchwork on Rose’s hat, and the pleated ribbon flowers on Lottie’s. Also, I love that the middle-class ladies wear their hair in low buns instead of fashion-forward bobs.

Enchanted April (1991)

Rose’s husband says she has the face of a “disappointed angel,” and it’s such a great characterization.

Enchanted April (1991)

Both ladies have a teeny bit of red in their wardrobe as their plan comes together, a hint of things to come.

Enchanted April (1991)

Lottie’s dress has so many great elements, like the pleated silk, the layering, and the embroidery.

Lady Caroline is a shock of red and purple, and at first you share Lottie and Rose’s awe at her glamour:

Enchanted April (1991)

Her skirt has red tassels on the side, which were impossible to screencap.

Enchanted April (1991)

A bob and a bandeau (NOT a head necklace!) for Caroline.

When they get to Italy, everything warms up and relaxes. Everyone’s wardrobe starts including more color, and the hair sometimes even comes down:

Enchanted April (1991)

Waking up their first morning in Italy.

Enchanted April (1991)

Lottie and Rose are so awestruck, they go into the garden in their nightgowns and kimono robes.

Enchanted April (1991)

Starting to warm up, both emotionally and wardrobe-wise. Rose’s weird straw hat!

Enchanted April (1991)

Lottie is the first one to go full flower power, wearing light colors, hair down, with a floppy hat.

Enchanted April (1991)

Mrs. Fisher starts off in black, then starts to warm up to brown.

Enchanted April (1991)

All four ladies in warm colors, and Mrs. Fisher in cream! Heaven forfend!

Enchanted April (1991)

At dinner, Lottie wears a combination of gold and orange tones.

Enchanted April (1991)

Rose wears an orange-y peach with embroidered flowers as she blossoms…

Enchanted April (1991)

More warm colors and fab details on Rose. The hat ribbon and the geometric fabric insets on the dress!

Enchanted April (1991)

While Caroline was in strong colors to start, she gets more delicate, wearing white and light pink as she relaxes.

 

Are we worthy of such a wonderful film as Enchanted April?

Tags

About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

20 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Thank you for the unknowingly birthday prezzie. I absolutely love and adore this film. The cast is perfect.

    Reply
  2. thestoryenthusiast

    This is just a perfect film. I’ve seen it with my mother many times as it is her favorite. And yes, Michael Kitchen aka Foyle really deserves his own Man Candy Monday post. ASAP if you please.

    Reply
  3. toranut97

    Yes, it is a PERFECTLY PERFECT film! I prescribe it to people as a tonic for the drudgery of life! Yes, more Michael Kitchen please! And thanks for this brightening of my day!

    Reply
  4. LydiaR

    This is a favorite film for so many reasons. Such a great cast! And yes, please do a MCM with Michael Kitchen!

    Reply
  5. Kate D

    I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing it yet! Adding to the To Watch list immediately!

    Reply
  6. Kersten

    Great movie, and so much credit to the script for adapting such a delicate novel! Also yes please Michael Kitchen for MCM. He doesn’t play typical alpha male heroes and that’s why I love him!

    Reply
  7. Susan Eiffert

    If Kitchen isn’t well known enough to be on MCM, he should be! I adore him, he does comedy and drama equally well, oh, and yes, he’s dishy! I have enjoyed him for decades!

    Reply
  8. Elizabeth Mahon

    I vote yes for Michael Kitchen to have his own MCM. I loved this movie and now reading this post, I need to go find a copy so that I can watch it again. I’ve very glad that no one has remade it.

    Reply
  9. Shannon Russell

    Yes to a Michael Kitchen MCM! (Can I vote twice?) I love this film! The costuming, the music, the pacing – all perfection! It’s one of my go-to films during a long Minnesota winter!

    Reply
  10. Sharon in Scotland

    A friend told me she once sat behind Michael Kitchen, driving in the fog in Sussex, trying to find a house and being totally transfixed by the back of his head……………….yes to MCM

    Reply
  11. Jacqui Gauld

    Never seen this film, but now want to and yes please to an MCM on Michael Kitchen, I loved him in Foyle’s War.

    Reply
  12. Bonnie

    One of my favourite films (and the book too) – I saw it when it was first released at the cinema and many times since. When I’m feeling grim, it’s either Enchanted April or A Room with a View that revives me. Both perfect films. My only issue with Enchanted April is that I wish Kate Lumley had come to stay!

    Reply
  13. Laura

    Love love love this movie! I watch it every year in April. :) and Yes! to a Michael Kitchen MCM – he’s so great in Foyle’s War!

    Reply
  14. Cheryl Kirkus

    There should be no discussion as it’s a given that MK is MCM! This is response to shared post from a FWAS member . . . “Honey, when it comes to man candy, Michael Kitchen is Lindt milk chocolate.”

    Reply

Feel the love

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.