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The Undoing: An Investigation into its Fashion By Linit Freydenson

People around the world are currently in the grips of the new HBO psychological thriller The Undoing. It’s a new drama which recently premiered, and follows the lives of a wealthy New York family as they grapple with the implications of a murder investigation. It's as thrilling as it sounds, believe me. But what supersedes the mystery and dramatic performances of the characters is the fashion of the show, ranging from the characters' varied wardrobes to the interior design of their apartments. In essence, the character's fashion can be described in a single word: opulence.

So I invite you all onto the case in investigating the motives of the characters’ wardrobe choices, and I’ll let you decide who you think is innocent or guilty of successful outfits.

Lets begin with the tortured protagonist of the show, the cunning and lavish Grace Fraser. Her presence is grandiose, to say the least. As a middle aged mother living in the world of the wealthy, her outfits are anything but ordinary. The first outfit we see her in is a plum-colored, flute-crepe, mini dress. This color pairs perfectly with the gravitas of her character, both as a psychologist and wealthy private school mother. It lacks brightness and instead gives off a deep and meaningful feminie shade which pairs perfectly with Kidman’s red hair. Her sleeves are also loose and fall to her elbows, representing her free spiritedness pre-murder investigation. The next major outfit the great Queen Kidman wears is a metallic, free-flowing Givenchy gown costing $9,490, a good chunk of college tuition. What is so peculiar about this beautiful wardrobe choice is its metallic colors. It looks slippery, just like the nature of her character. The gown looks different from every angle you see it, showing the many personas she puts on throughout the show. No matter her outfit, she pairs them all with long coats of various shades of deep colors, including green, burgundy, and violet. In wearing calf length coats, it's almost as if her character is hiding something from the world. It is astonishing how much a character's wardrobe can emulate the character’s personality and motivations.

The next character to consider is the victim Elena Alves, a beautiful young mother desperate to enter the inner circle of high society women. She is a poor artist and mother of two residing in Harlem, clearly different from the rest of the main characters. When she is first introduced, she is wearing loose fitting trousers and a bright salmon colored tee shirt. Immediately her youth, natural beauty, and simplicity separate her from the other mothers. Her most iconic wardrobe was a BCBG, light pink, pleated gown costing $468. The pink is so light that its almost skin color, representing the vulnerability and nakedness of her character. She is a “what you see, what you get” type of person. The gown highlights her natural beauty as the focus is more on her, rather than the actual garment itself. It is clear throughout the show that she is the innocent victim, terrorized by the whims of upper class society. But through her wardrobe and fashion, the viewers are given a truly authentic and vulnerable character who does not need expensive clothes to make herself more beautiful.

Contrasting to the previous characters is the ruthless Hayley Fitzgerald, the attorney hired to defend Dr. Jonathan Fraser from a murder charge. Her character is cut throat, calculating and unsympathetic. Her wardrobe is my personal favorite, as it so perfectly encapsulates her character. Her first day in court she wears a fitted black and white pinstripe blazer designed by Alexander McQueen, with a white button down shirt underneath. It is astonishing how well the clothes fit the character. She wears black and white to represent the candor of the judicial system and the black and white nature of the law. In almost every episode she sports a blazer, fitted skirt and button down blouse. In dressing her character in such a way, symbolizes the uniformity of the law. Her entire character is remnant of the stereotypical male attorney, but every piece she wears highlights her feminine silhouette, proving that women have finally been accepted into the world of law. To me, she is one of the most powerful female characters and her outfits are unparalleled.

Simply by analyzing and exploring the fashion of the titular characters of a TV show or film, the viewers can get insight into the characters personalities and motivations. Clothes are not simply garments worn to cover the body, rather they are a representation of a person. They showcase the unspoken beauty and horrors within a character. So when you tune into the finale of The Undoing, keep in mind the symbolism of each character's style choices as it will inform you on their motivations. I hope you enjoyed traversing into the world of fashion and film, maybe next time you watch something, you’ll admire the role of the costume designer a little bit more.

Image Sources: Stylist, DailyExpress, Fashion History, HBO

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