“The Danish Girl”
November 27, 2015
In “The Danish Girl,” actor Eddie Redmayne portrays artist Einar Wegener, the first recipient of male to female sex reassignment surgery. Set in 1920s Copenhagen and Paris, the film by director Tom Hooper shows how Wegener and his wife, painter and illustrator Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) navigate the shifting parameters of their marriage and societal norms.
Costume Designer Paco Delgado had to tread carefully to dress Redmayne through his character’s changing identity from male Einar to female Lili Elbe. As Einar, the successful Danish artist, Redmayne wears constricting, authoritarian Edwardian suits with very high collars. Then the couple moves to Paris in search of artistic and social freedom.
In a pivotal scene, Einar has embraced his feminine side and ventures into a Paris park wearing a creamy beige jacket with a nipped waist and flowing trousers–a suit that is too soft to be traditional menswear and too masculine for a typical woman. That suit draws unwanted attention to Lili/Einar.
“The suit is almost like a lady’s suit,” said Delgado. “Instead of it being made by a male tailor, I had it made by a woman’s cutter. I thought that she is going to understand how to create a woman’s outfit made with a man’s idea. If you give that suit to a man to make, he will probably make a very masculine suit–it’s the way tailors make things.”
The scene is pivotal to the story and to the wardrobe. “You see perfectly that transition. It is very good to show that confusion–that this suit is a men’s suit with a lot of women’s ideas into it. Or is it a man’s suit with a lot of women’s ideas into it? I wouldn’t be able to say it tilts to more male or female. It shows the progression that Lili was having.”
Delgado accessorized the suit with a lavender scarf that is worn neither as a man’s ascot or jabot nor a woman’s neck scarf. Lavender is not only one of Delgado’s favorite colors, but it also held a special resonance for the character.
“Lavender has the emotional strength of red, and also the sadness of blue,” said Delgado. “This outfit might not be the most showy, but it is the outfit that was for me, very special. It is one of my favorite costumes in the whole movie.”