Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in the epic film from 1963, All Over Press.

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in the epic film from 1963, All Over Press.

The 10 most stylish costume dramas

With rich, dramatic stories and enviable costume departments, period pieces are always a treat for fashion fans. We count down 10 of our favourites for this week’s Hit List.

Jodhaa Akbar, All Over Press.

10. JODHAA AKBAR (2008)
Set in India’s Mughal era, the Mughal prince Akbar marries a Hindu princess, Jodhaa. This love story features many elaborate and decadent costumes in amazing woven fabrics, and has even become a source of bridal inspiration for some Indian weddings today.

The Leopard, All over Press.

Burt Lancaster stars in this tale of high society in 1860's Sicily, and it’s a must for fans of Italian tailoring. Elegant, ornate ball gowns and ceremonial menswear of the period make Il Gattopardo an indispensible look at the best of Italian style history.

A Room With a View, All Over Press.

8. A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1985)
The quintessential Merchant Ivory film, A Room With a View takes EM Forster’s Edwardian novel in which two English youngsters fall in love while travelling in Italy. Classic Edwardian lace plays a major fashion role, along with loose linen shirts and straw boaters – a step away from the stuffiness of the Victorian era.

Barry Lyndon, All over Press.

7. BARRY LYNDON (1975)
Stanley Kubrick’s take on 19th-century Britain and Ireland, Barry Lyndon, earned an Oscar for best costume design, thanks to the outfitting. Tracing Redmond Barry’s journey from rural Ireland to high society in England takes in plenty of taffeta gowns, extravagant headgear, laces and ruffles of the period with accuracy.

Elizabeth, All Over Press.

6. ELIZABETH (1998)
With her cool portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I, Cate Blanchett went all-out in her depiction of the last Tudor queen. A heavily-powdered face and detailed costumes that combined high drama with historical accuracy helped make her look the part.

Bright Star, All Over Press.

5. BRIGHT STAR (2009)
Chronicling the love affair between Romantic poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, Bright Star is full of the finest fashion of early 19th-century London. Fanny dresses in many colourful outfits designed herself.

Marie Antoinette, All Over Press.

Versailles in the hedonistic days before the French Revolution is the setting for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, which won an Oscar for its devoted costume design. Kirsten Dunst as the fun-loving queen went through countless outfits, including lovingly stylised interpretations of 18th-century ball gowns.

Curse of the Golden Flower, All Over Press.

Set in ancient China’s Imperial court, Curse of the Golden Flower follows a power struggle around Emperor Ping and his Empress Phoenix, played by Gong Li, who becomes obsessed with the iconic yellow chrysanthemum as she is driven insane through poisoning.

Cleopatra, All Over Press.

2. CLEOPATRA (1963)
Elizabeth Taylor’s star turn in this historical epic made her the highest paid star in Hollywood at the time, and her depiction of the Egyptian queen has found its way into pop culture history – all eyeliner and intricate headpieces fit for royalty. 

Mad Men, All Over Press.

1. MAD MEN (2007 – PRESENT)
The office of Sterling Cooper provided fertile grounds for the changing fashions of the 1950s and 1960s in Mad Men. From conservative Peter Pan collars and printed house dresses to the polo necks, knee-high boots and miniskirts of the 1960s, fashion on the show becomes a metaphor for a changing society over the years.

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