The hidden meanings in Poor Things’ odd costumes

That chimes with Deborah Jermyn, a reader in film and television at Roehampton University. “She doesn’t have the guidance from inside the oppressive domestic space that she’s been in with a housekeeper and this very patriarchal figure, and it gets really playful, eccentric.”

Organic and bodily

Her burgeoning, blossoming sexuality is expressed via visceral costumes exploding with pink frothy ruffles, one was given the on-set moniker the “clitoris blouse”, another the “vagina blouse”. Waddington wanted everything to feel organic and bodily, but not in a “sexy” way, rather inspired by body parts, lungs and organs and intended to give a “sense of the living and the breathing of the body, referencing the textures that are within the human body, so you know the frills of tripe or the sponginess of fat or the smoothness of liver”, but also shells, coral and other sea creatures. 

As Bella enters the stage of the film set in a brothel, her costumes divert for a moment from visceral and textured to conservatively wrapped up – the so-called “condom coat” seems the perfect outerwear for her arrival at a point where she plans to use her body for exploration and commerce, but not procreation. It is, says Jermyn, “one of those moments where you have to sit up and say ‘what’s she come out with now, where’s this come from?'” Again, she says, “it’s partly signalling this movement into another phase…” Bella is now broke, and her attire becomes more functional. “If you think of it as a condom, it’s definitely functional,” she says. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *