Rosemary’s Baby (1968) is the perfect mid-sixties set fashion movie. As Rosemary, Mia Farrow wears racks of cute outfits throughout. These are mainly shift dresses with Peter Pan collars, though she also dons a sumptuous plaid skirt at one point for a curled up read on the sofa.
Her co-star John Cassavetes sports some stylish threads of his own, including colourful turtlenecks, sports jackets and even a cool blue Penguin polo shirt. Yet, unsurprisingly, all the best outfits belong to Mia – and the chiffon trouser suit in stunning red is one of her best.
Costumer Anthea Sylbert designed Mia’s wardrobe herself – assumedly easier than finding three year old cutting edge couture second hand – to distinctly reflect this revolutionary fashion time period. Rosemary’s hemlines rise deliberately during the film in tandem with her vain attempts to assert independence from the coven of witches surrounding her.
The $5,000 Vidal Sassoon haircut (his fee for the film, not poor Rosemary’s bill) is her most blatant act of rebellion, though it’s her clothes that stand up best today. For many, Mia’s severe and unforgiving crop should perhaps remain a youthful fancy along with knee socks and bunches.
This grown up trouser suit doesn’t date particularly well (Phoebe got away with a rainbow coloured version in Friends once) but within the context of the movie it waves an early flag for women wearing pants as evening wear, something that continued well into the 1970s with increasing prominence:
Red chiffon trouser suit. Unfitted top with deep v-neck and hanging bow collar, puffed sleeves gathered into narrow cuffs. Wide leg pants flared out from the knee.
Matching red flat leather shoes.
Note the Devil red colour to hint at Mia’s upcoming satanic rendezvous, and how the loose fit draws attention to her faint, angelic frame. The shoes are a smarter night time update for the ubiquitous ballet pumps Mia wears in nearly every other scene.
This suit is similar to something designer Ossie Clark would have created. It features many of his signature elements: deep v-neck, bell sleeves, layering at the waist, liberal use of chiffon; cut in a light, graciously feminine style. The clean, no-waist tailoring is also reminiscent of Mary Quant – a common feature on her iconic front-zipped shift dresses.
There will undoubtedly be another peek at Rosemary’s outfits in the (hopefully near) future. Apart from the trouser suit, her snuggly winter wardrobe works best. Plus no-one could wear an A-line coat better than Mia Farrow in her heyday, including even the illustrious Audrey Hepburn.
© 2009 – 2013, Christopher Laverty.