The first trailer, and first decent look, at Tulip Fever came out very recently (the movie has a July 15, 2016, US release date). This is a film adaptation of a fiction novel by Deborah Moggach and directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl). It stars current historical film “it” girl Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair, Anna Karenina, The Danish Girl), along with Christoph Waltz (Water for Elephants), Dane DeHaan, and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias, Lady Chatterley’s Lover). So far I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen of the costumes, so I thought it was time to take a deep dive!
Here’s a summary of the plot according to Entertainment Weekly: “Tulip Fever takes place in 17th-century Amsterdam, revolving around the budding relationship between an artist (Dane DeHaan) and a married woman (Alicia Vikander) after the former is commissioned by the latter’s husband (Christoph Waltz) to paint her portrait. The lovers then gamble on the booming market for tulip bulbs as a way to raise money to run away together.”
To be more specific, the novel is set in the 1630s, which is an interesting era in fashion. It’s right in the transition from Renaissance to Baroque, and the Dutch were particularly slow when it came to this transition. We’re about 30 years earlier than Girl With a Pearl Earring, for example.
I haven’t read the book, so any plot points are total guesses. Also, this is clearly going to be an authentically lit film (i.e., dark) — I had to lighten most of the screencaps so we could see what’s going on!
Alicia Vikander plays Sophia, and it appears that she spends her teenage years in a convent. Here she is staring out to sea…
But we quickly switch to young girls in simple dress at a convent.
Now we can finally see something! Sophia (Vikander, left) is wearing a jacket with a tabbed skirting and a very practical linen cap. Judi Dench plays a nun (center). The younger girl on the right is presumably a novice or student. She has a brown wool (?) jacket with spiral lacing in front, a high-necked chemise, and a similar cap to Sophia’s. Compare the young girl’s bodice neckline and high-necked chemise…
…with the servant in this painting (granted, about 30ish years later) by Vermeer. The Love Letter (detail) by Vermeer, 1667-8.
Back to the beach, in what looks like similar clothes. There’s no decoration whatsoever on Sophia’s clothes — very “plain and simple.”
Sophia appears to be leaving the convent here. She’s got a linen neckerchief pinned high and tight on her throat in a way that echoes Dench’s nun’s wimple above.
Christoph Waltz plays Cornelis Sandvoort, Sophia’s husband. He’s clearly got some money, as the lace on his collar is nice and those tassels are obviously about fashion, not function.
Sophia has come up in the world! Check out the blackwork embroidery on her chemise. She also has either a starched or wired coif with lace.
Here is a Dutch lady of the same era wearing a very similar cap. Cornelia Claesdr Vooght by Frans Hals, 1631.
Holliday Grainger plays Maria — a servant, I assume. Her clothing is also very practical, but less covered-up than Sophia’s convent wear. Note the lacing down the front of the dress bodice, and how her chemise is opened up at the neck and the sleeves are rolled up — she’s clearly been working.
Dane DeHann plays Jan Van Loos, the painter. He’s obviously not wealthy — his doublet is very practical. That being said, he has an extra, decorative collar on his doublet, which has some blackwork embroidery at the edges, so he’s not dirt poor. Where’s his hat?
This Dutch guy is clearly of a much higher station, but nonetheless his outfit reminds me a bit of Jan’s. Portrait of a silversmith by Thomas de Keyser, 1630.
Sophia’s skirt silhouette is much bigger than at the convent.
A vague glimpse of the back of Sophia’s gown. There are wings that arch from her shoulders towards the small of her back.
Here we can see a bit more of Sophia’s ensemble. Her kirtle (underdress) looks like a printed cotton, which makes sense — the Dutch were one of the first to import these and they were wildly popular. Over that, she has what I think is a loose gown, with tabs at the shoulders and bands of trim on the sleeves. Notice also her wide, white cuffs with lace.
Let’s look at this image again, but now focus on the outfit… which is SO Renaissance-y! She has a high-necked doublet, and a sleeveless fur overgown. Cornelia Claesdr Vooght by Frans Hals, 1631.
Cornelis all dressed up for the portrait. He’s got a HA-UGE ruff, plus some kind of cape or over-robe in a woven pattern, and a hat. Jan’s doublet is long, past the hips — like that portrait I posted above.
Sophia coming downstairs in her posing gown.
This dress is waaaaay more luxe, and also waaaay more fashion-forward, than the rest of her wardrobe. That super high waistline is totally correct for this era (and one of the reasons why I don’t get excited about mid-17th century women’s wear).
Here’s one of the two stills that have been released for this film, in which we can see the posing outfits more clearly. Sophia’s dress has slashed sleeves (this is the original style that was copied in the kind of fancy dress worn by Mary Hawkins in Outlander!). Her neckline is low, the skirt is very full (probably cartridge pleated), and it’s a much less Renaissance and more Baroque silhouette than the rest of her wardrobe. Notice also the wide collar and cuffs with lace, and the purple sash and bows at the elbows and bust.
Cornelis’s outfit almost looks Renaissance, which is right for this period in the Netherlands. Notice the woven patterned fabric — very chic — and all the points (hanging ribbons with aiglets, metal crimpy tubes at the ends) that tie his doublet to his pants. His ruff is super full, plus he’s got wide lace cuffs.
One of two examples of where fashion is headed, with lower necklines, higher waistlines, and fuller sleeves. Portrait of Elisabeth of Bohemia, 1636.
Another image showing where fashion is headed. Note how we’re now looking at a gown rather than Renaissance-style doublet, and overgowns are mostly gone. Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia by Gerard van Honthorst, 1642.
This is awfully colorful for the Dutch in this era (I think the whole Protestant and merchant-y thing is why they tended to prefer black), but it shows more clearly just how Renaissance-y men’s clothing still was. Of course, the doublet skirts and trousers are longer than in the 16th century, and there are other subtle differences. Portrait of a father and his son by Thomas de Keyser, 1631.
Getting into bed. Both have embroidered shifts — Cornelis’ in black. Notice how the embroidery is focused on the parts of the garment that might show, but still covers more than would actually show — conspicuous consumption!
Sophia’s shift has redwork embroidery AND lace.
Back to the posing outfit. Here you can see those slashed sleeves a bit more.
Sophia dressed very formally, but back in that more traditional, Renaissance-esque style. Notice how her doublet bodice comes up high, the overgown with hanging sleeves, and how full is her ruff.
This Dutch lady is far more luxe, but you can see similarities in the long, stiff, pointed bodice and the surcoat/overgown. Portrait of a lady by Thomas de Keyser, 1632.
Cornelis in another, less full and more widely pleated, ruff. I question his hairstyle — looks very modern to me.
Sophia talking to Maria, I think. Her gown is in a dark mulberry and black woven patterned fabric, and check out the drawn threadwork on her chemise!
Praying — I assume these are family members? I like how the lady on the left is wearing a partlet, a neckline fill-in and collar that extends down over the bodice in front and back. It could be worn under the dress, or on top like it is here.
Looks like Sophia’s cap is actually TWO caps, the under one with blackwork and lace. More conspicuous consumption!
The one other still image that’s been released from this film — Cressida Bonas who plays Mrs. Steen.
Here’s the same image, but lightened so we can see the detail. Check It Out!! She has a broad, long bodice in yellow satin, with a gazillion tabs and tons of lace trim. Her sleeves are slashed down the front (with puffs of taffeta showing through), and trimmed with rows of gold braid. She’s wearing a black overgown with wings at the shoulder and hanging sleeves. She has BOTH a wide lace collar, AND a huge ruff … and more lace on her cuffs.
What is the most fabulous about Mrs. Steen’s outfit? The yellow bodice is clearly copied from this extant bodice from the Abegg-Stiftung Museum in Switzerland: