Daphne du Maurier‘s original novel My Cousin Rachel apparently does not specify the exact period in which it’s set, but implies some time toward the end of the 19th century on the Cornish coast. This new version of the story starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin actually positions itself in a specific time frame, as decided upon by director Roger Michell and costume designer Dinah Collin, namely the year 1840.
We have an exclusive featurette about the costume design of My Cousin Rachel, which although brief goes into some detail about what to expect from the finished film:
What is most fascinating is just why 1840 was chosen. It was very much a transitional era, essentially the second Industrial Revolution, so the mass expansion of railways, steam and gas. It was a working time and clothes began to reflect this, although skirts would eventually become much fuller about a decade or so into Queen Victoria’s reign. At this point gentleman’s frock coats remained high and extremely tight; comfort was not much of a factor for either sex. According to the featurette, Rachel Weisz as mysterious Rachel of the title arrives into the story with only two dresses – both mourning so obviously black. Toward the end of the film (not sure how much of a spoiler this is), Rachel finally adopts some colour as she ‘begins her new life’, starting with a spectacular blue dress and wine velvet redingote she wears to go horse-riding. All in all My Cousin Rachel is evolving into what looks like a period costume treat.
My Cousin Rachel will be released on 9th June.
© 2017, Lord Christopher Laverty.