Costume Designer Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh: The Frock Flicks Guide

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Irish costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh might not be a big name (though she has a big Gaelic name!). Much of her work has been in Ireland on smaller films. But you may recognize a lot of these movies and the big-name actors in them, in particular the frock flicks. From reading interviews with her, I feel like Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh takes a more thematic approach to her costume designs than strictly historical, which may further the story even if the clothes aren’t perfectly period. This can be a controversial look around here, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. IMO, more often it does work in these films. She’s also mentioned in interviews that she’s working on a tight budget and frequently a short timeline on these historical films, which makes what she’s achieved all the more impressive to me.

 

 

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006)

An extremely dramatic (& sad!) film about the Irish War of Independence.

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006)

That’s Cillian Murphy stripped to his underwear.

 

 

Becoming Jane (2007)

Becoming Jane (2007)

Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh said about Becoming Jane in The Telegraph:

“This film is set much earlier than the period typically shown in Austen films. The really high waists were not yet fashionable and I wanted Jane’s world to have a simple country feel to it, so her dresses are very plain in shape and structure.”

Becoming Jane (2007) Becoming Jane (2007) Becoming Jane (2007) Becoming Jane (2007) Becoming Jane (2007)

 

 

Brideshead Revisited (2008)

Brideshead Revisited (2008) Brideshead Revisited (2008)

Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh talked to the LA Times about costuming this miniseries:

“I wanted to show the energy and the hope and expectancy that was there after the first World War. I wanted it to be through the eyes of Charles Ryder, to look at this unattainable world. … He’s from this cloistered, dusty house in London, and suddenly he’s hanging out with hedonists and loving every moment of it. From his eyes, it’s all heightened reality. Everything is more beautiful.”

Brideshead Revisited (2008) Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Brideshead Revisited (2008)

In Interview Magazine, she said:

“I have done a few period dramas in the last several years and absolutely loved it — especially the whole ’20s and ’30s period. I love the ’30s. And the ’40s are just beautiful, too.”

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Brideshead Revisited (2008) Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Brideshead Revisited (2008)

 

 

 

Neverland (2011)

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Neverland (2011)

A prequel to the Peter Pan story set in Victorian England.

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Neverland (2011)

There’s pirates.

Q'orianka Kilcher, Neverland (2011)

An “Indian princess.”

2011 Neverland

And a bad guy.

 

 

Jimmy’s Hall (2014)

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Jimmy's Hall (2014)

About Irish Communist Jimmy Gralton, who set up a community center / dance hall in his home town Effrinagh during the 1930s.

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Jimmy's Hall (2014) Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Jimmy's Hall (2014)

 

 

 

Love & Friendship (2016)

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship (2016)
Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship (2016)

Sketch by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh.

In the Hollywood Reporter, Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh said:

“If you actually laid out the costumes, it goes from black to black and grey to mauve, more of the mourning colors for the time, and every time [Lady Susan’s] in the country she’s affecting the widow and trying to be discreet. But when she goes to London, the colors change.”

and:

“The brilliant thing about this film — because all the characters are heightened versions of themselves, it gives you leeway to be bold and use color and texture … so the costumes can be be heightened as well.”

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship (2016)
Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship (2016)

Sketch by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh.

Love & Friendship (2016)

The same gown on display.

Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh said to Rama Screen:

“I really kind of pushed for setting it in the late 1780s. It’s a comedy as well, these big dresses, these really lend themselves to … there’s such a drama about those costumes, I just felt that it would really add to the performance, the door would open and she went swoosh into the room and this huge dress o my gosh, these dresses are built for something like this, for drama and comedy and fun.”

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship (2016)
Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship (2016)

Sketch by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh.

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship (2016)

The same gown on display.

 

 

A Dangerous Fortune (2016)

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, A Dangerous Fortune (2016)

A two-part TV movie released in Germany.

Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, A Dangerous Fortune (2016) Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, A Dangerous Fortune (2016)

 

 

 

Little Women (2018)

Little Women (2018)

Talking about this miniseries in Grazia, Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh said:

“While Little Women doesn’t straddle a huge amount of time when you look at it on paper, the girls go from being adolescents to young women: there’s a transformation from episode to episode for certain characters. We wanted to make a lot of the costumes to give them an overarching look; with it being a period piece, I really needed the whole ten week prep period.”

Little Women (2018)

She also noted in Grazia:

“Sometimes my favourite designs are the least ostentatious ones … I loved some of Beth’s dresses because there was a simplicity to them that really embodied that character: a cotton dress with a little black check was one of the first costumes that she wears, and I used that as a marker for where I wanted to go with the designs.”

Little Women (2018) Little Women (2018) Little Women (2018)

 

 

The Professor and the Madman (2019)

Jennifer Ehle, The Professor and the Madman (2018)

A fascinating story about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, but unfortunately directed & starring Mel Gibson. At least there are some other people in it, like Jennifer Ehle.

The Professor and the Madman (2019) Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, The Professor and the Madman (2019)

 

 

 

 

 

What are your favorite historical costume designs by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh?

7 Responses

  1. Joni

    I did not know that The Professor And The Madman had been made into a movie! I read the book recently and it is a WILD RIDE.

    Reply
  2. Lily Lotus Rose

    I LOVED the entire look of the movie version of Brideshead Revisited. I also liked the look of Becoming Jane, though it’s been forever since I’ve seen it, and I’d totally forgotten that Maggie Smith was in it. Her work looks exquisite. I only made it through about 5 minutes of Love and Friendship and also The Wind That Shakes the Barley, but now I want to give them both another try. Also, I’ve wanted to see the movie about the OED since I learned of it; I’ll have to hunt it down, Am I the only one getting Dirty Dancing Baby and Johnny vibes from that picture from Jimmy’s Hall? Thanks for another great WCW!

    Reply
  3. Damnitz

    “Love & Friendship” is the weakest of the films costumewise. Some costumes even of the main characters were bad fitting and I didn’t like the mix of regency (1800s) and 1780s costumes especially because there was no explenation for that in the film itself. When I watched it in the cinema I thought that they had a very low budget for costumes and lost all money to get Kate Beckinsale.

    Reply
    • Gray

      “Love & Friendship” is a great fun movie! But I too thought the fit of some costumes was not so good. Especially the men.

      Reply
  4. Roxana

    Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh … How on Earth do you pronounce that? I like her work though, both pretty and authentic.

    Reply
    • Kiki

      @roxana nee-VALE-down-ig. All Irish female surnames start with Ní. It means daughter of X family. You also need to then add a H after the first letter. Mh has a Vee sound in Irish.

      Reply
      • Roxana

        I knew Ni meant Daughter. Vale down ig is quite sayable. But definitely not what any non Gaelic speaker would expect. I don’t think the latin alphabet goes particularly well with Gaelic. Or Welsh for that matter.

        Reply

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