Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cinema Wedding Gowns: My Cousin Rachel (1953)

Last month My Cousin Rachel starring Rachel Weisz premiered in theaters. While I'm normally against remakes, when it's based on a book rather than a remake of an original movie script - especially a period piece - I'm fine with it. In such cases the films can be vastly different, especially when one was made during the days of the Hays Code and no CGI. I have not seen Weisz's version yet, but I thought it would be fun to take a look at Olivia de Havilland's version of Rachel for this month's first Cinema Wedding Gown (Weisz does not wear a wedding gown in the remake).
The wedding scene occurs in a delirious dream of Richard Burton's while he is extremely ill. The enigmatic Rachel (de Havilland) cares for him during this time and when he gets better he insists that they are married and she insists it was a dream. Either way, de Havilland is absolutely gorgeous in her wedding gown, which can be seen in the promotional photos below. Displayed prominently is a family necklace, which is one of the reasons Rachel is not trusted. Is the family fortune all she wants (she's the widow of Burton's brother)?

Here is how the dress is seen in the film. As you can see we can't see much.

Below is an image that shows (almost) the full-length dress as well as the sketch by costumer Dorothy Jeakins.

The gown is made of heavy cream satin, off the shoulders, and with flared three quarter length sleeves. There is lace appliqued on the front of the bodice, which has panels and is pointed in the front where it is attached to a full gathered skirt that just touches the floor. A floor length piece of exquisite lace is pinned to the back of her head. The sketch shows a different veil perched on the crown of the head with a piece over the face. You will notice the necklace is also different.
The necklace photographed for an auction.
Olivia wearing the necklace. This photo also shows the lace of the veil really well as well as the gloves. Notice the matching pearl drop earrings.
The necklace in the new film is very UNimpressive.


  1. Gorgeous. Something like that could be "too much", but instead this is beautiful, yet understated elegance.

  2. Interesting. I was about to day I did not remember any wedding in that book, but delirium - yes, sort of. I think de Havilland is a perfect cast for Rachel. Weisz may be too overtly ferocious and independent looking to portray hidden danger. But, that is just my opinion.