HBO's latest series «The Gilded Age» is a historical drama about aristocratic conflict filled with marble mansions and recreations of 1880-s New York. One of the most eye-catching elements of the series is the gorgeous dresses worn by high society schemers.
However, no matter how elegant the dresses of the TV-show characters are, the depth of perception of the costumes exceeds the sophistication of the embroidery. «The Gilded Age» lead costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone says the series captures one of the New York's most exciting periods of fashion, when trends began to change and evolve with the establishment.
The Gilded Age in US history is the period of fantastic economic growth in the second half of the 19th century after the Civil War. Walicka-Maimone came to the project interested in learning about the history of New York City. She and her costume team (approximately 65 people) explore the trends of this period, finding inspiration from paintings, fashion plates and photographs of this time.
The purpose of this team was to create looks that explain who is who with no words: is it the old elite, who grew up in wealth and power, or the new wave of residents, who are just beginning to embrace themselves. Differences in the origins between the characters are already evident in the way they dress: some dresses are simple, but the same way are ordinary and discreet. Meanwhile, the other outfits are richly decorated with frills, feathers and wide hats. Kasia says that while New York's older elite tended to stick to contemporary fashion trends, the younger ones adopted European looks.
The costume designer paid equal attention to the wardrobe of the male characters. Because it is set in the business world of New York City, the men's wardrobes were more formal than the women's, and their outfits were generally limited to charcoal black and gray suits. However, the show's team focused on styling the costumes to reflect the status, personality, and wealth of men.