The (somewhat) recently debuted trailer for director Paul W.S. Anderson’s adaptation of The Three Musketeers affords just the briefest, intensely edited peek at those 17th century costumes in motion. It’s a lace and linen fest.
Alexandre Dumas père’s original story of The Three Musketeers takes place in France before the opulent reign of Louis XIV. This is important because in costume terms the overall style was considerably more sober than in both Henry VIII’s Tudor reign and the French sartorial dominance of the world that was to follow. During the 17th century, fashion was ever changing and evolving, though judging by this trailer costume designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud (The Bourne Identity) is reflecting long-established trends we associate with the era.
The Musketeers themselves, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), wear a body-hugging doublet with lashings of white linen shirt billowing out at the cuffs and collar – here replacing the more restrictive ‘ruff’ of the Elizabethan era. A doublet is basically a short, padded jacket with low neck and tight sleeves. The Musketeers’ outwear appears to be leather, Spanish leather as it would have been in the context of the story. Leather is a tried and tested way of establishing the masculinity of hero protagonists; when not used in excess, or the inference generally changes to ‘villain’.
As they seem to be sporting what became known as the ‘Cavalier’ look, the Musketeers wear knee high boots, wide brim beaver hat and suede breeches. Towards the end of the century, men’s clothing would become increasingly more effeminate, their hair longer and face covered in pallid make-up. Luxury was the order of the day. Silk ribbons, for example, adorned most garments, sometimes in their hundreds for those who could afford them.
Women’s costume during the period W.S. Anderson’s film is (presumably) set was comparatively sane. Intended to follow form rather than structure around it, this was when the décolletage, or cleavage, was invented. Plunging necklines accompanied by long, elegant skirts and less rigid stomachers. In this trailer it looks as if Milla Jovovich as Milady de Winter might be wearing a ‘Mantua’; a sloping sides dress with the skirt draped over a wide, occasionally enormous, hoop. More shots of her costume can be seen in fitting photos she tweeted back in March 2010.
What is most significant about clothing in the 17th century, however, is that it conceived what we know term as the ‘3 piece suit’ for men. Back then it was a coat, waistcoat and breeches, worn together as a matching ensemble. Keep an eye out too for slight heel on the Musketeers’ long boots. Invented to keep a rider’s feet in stirrups; these eventually crossed over into everyday wear; from horse to haute couture.
The Three Musketeers (filmed in 3D!) opens in all its costume loveliness on 14th October.
© 2011 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.