Fashion

The Help costume sketches

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We adored the film adaptation of The Help, and whilst the acting and storyline are superb, we were also blown away by the beautiful costumes.

The prim and pretty dresses in a sugary pastel palette and bold floral prints are perfect for the Mad-Men era Southern Belles of the film (and very autumn/winter 2011). So when these sketches from Costume designer Sharen Davis landed on our desk, we had to share them with you.

As the book has its own memorable fashion moments (remember when Skeeter goes shopping for a new, grown-upwardrobe, and stocks up on daring Pucci dresses?), Davis (who also kitted out the retro wardrobes for Dreamgirls and Ray) pored over old Sears and JC Penney catalogue for inspiration, made 50 costumes from scratch using vintage fabrics, and even gave each character their own colour palette to make sure they looked authentically Jackson, Mississippi. The hard work paid off, as these sketches show.

ABOVE AND BELOW: Davis describes tall, gangly tomboy and writer Skeeter as having "the silhouette of a northerner but still looks like a schoolgirl". She is dressed in boxy skirt suits and simple tea dresses for most of the film, but is given a more glamorous, grown up look as the film progresses, as seen in the sketch for her Gala ball outfit, above.

ABOVE AND BELOW: Celia Foote is the 'white trash' wife who looks up to Marilyn Monroe, shunned by the other Jackson women, so Davis gave her a look that was "very Hollywood...but tacky and country". Her outfit for her ill-fated trip to the Gala ball leaves little to the imagination.

ABOVE AND BELOW: As the sharp, witty editor at New York publishers Harper & Rowe, Elain Stein has a more subdued palette than her Southern counterparts, wearing a fashion-forward but simple green tweed suit.

The Help is out in cinemas now. Watch the trailer here.

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