TBT: Lillie (1978)


Shout-out to my homies who love the ’70s British costume dramas! I hadn’t watched Lillie (1978) the first time around, but dayum, I sure did get sucked into it recently, watching on Amazon Prime. Usually, I would balk at 13 one-hour episodes, but I was totally engrossed because Francesca Annis as the main character, Lillie Langtry, is so freakin’ good, you can’t look away.

It doesn’t hurt that the costumes by Frances Tempest and Linda Mattock are gorgeous. The story spans Langtry’s entire adult life from age 16 in 1869 to her death in 1929, and yes, the costumes do match all the decades in between. OK, the first episode with Annis portraying Lillie as a 16-year-old (Annis was in her 30s) stretches credulity, but the costumes are appropriate to the period, at least. These are skin-out, head-to-toe historically accurate as they could be in 1978 Victorian ensembles in every scene on every actor, even the random extras, and the styles and fit are exquisite.

Do you want to read all of this review where Trystan catalogs most every outfit worn by Langtry (with nearly 4,000 words and over 180 images) in Lillie (1978)? The full post is available on Patreon for our subscribers! Check it out here. We’ll make this post available to everyone one year from today. Until then, only Patreon subscribers can view it!

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

8 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    I love Lillie. Francesa Annis is one of my all-time favourite actreses. Beauty, talent and brains. Besides being the perfect Lady Jessica Atreides.

  2. M.E. Lawrence

    Wow. I remember avidly watching every episode. That plain–but sultry!–little black dress is still my favorite, along with the simpler white evening gowns. (Am not crazy about late-Victorian fashion, although these are gorgeous recreations.) Annis and Lill are too thin for their roles; that era appreciated a fine figure of a woman/man. However, at least Lillie is not tightly corseted after her daughter’s birth–nice attention to detail. Her aging make-up and prosthetics or whatever were well thought out, too. (Annis’s make-up in general was pretty discreet. I just saw Visconti’s last movie, “The Innocent,” and its 1890s femme fatale was in full-on mid-70s shadow, liner, mascara, the works.)

  3. Elisa

    I remember loving this as a child, though a lot of the plot left me rather confused. But ALL TEH PRETTY DRESSES! I re-watched it last year and found it had aged rather well, all things considering. :)

  4. Patrick

    This just finally let me subscribe – I’m such a fan of the 1870/80s and those costumes are simply fantastic. I adore the costumes of the 3rd episode – the simple black one and in the end the fabulous white ball gown – stunning. Does anyone know if its historical accurate that she only had one black dress she altered for the occassions?


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