The mini-series based on the novel by Nancy Mitford depicts ‘The Dirty Thirties’ as a whirlwind of fashionable society parties and people.
The Pursuit of Love is a three-episode Amazon adaptation of the late Nancy Mitford’s celebrated novel about love and friendship. The story, initially released in 1945, follows the adventures of British society member Linda Radlett (played by Lily James) and as she actively hunts for her ideal husband with her cousin Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham).
Mitford was seen in the 1930s as a London high society insider devoted to fashion. Because of this, it seems but natural that her story’s main character dresses to the nines. After all, The Pursuit of Love is a semi-autobiography.
In a biography on the author, Life in a Cold Climate, Mitford affirmed her inclination to fashion and nightlife in 1966. “We hardly ever saw the light of day, except at dawn; there was a costume party every night,” she says, “The White Party, The Circus Party, The Boat Party.”
The accomplished writer comes from aristocratic backgrounds. Her grandfather, MP Thomas Gibson Bowles, founded Vanity Fair in 1863, and she’s cousins with former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
But, while affluent, the family is also controversial. Mitford’s sister, Unity, was supposedly a Nazi sympathizer that engaged in a relationship with Adolf Hitler.
With the story inspired by Mitford’s life during her singlehood, expect The Pursuit of Love to go through many (admittedly binge-watch-worthy) period drama tropes: rash characters and quick-witted humor to stately homes and marvelous fashion.
As Linda’s looks exude the best of 30s fashion with pieces from Bulgari’s historical archives, we gather five of our favorite looks from the series, curated and developed by Irish costume designer Sinéad Kidao.
Linda in Paris
With the legendary Coco Chanel traveling to the US to design costumes for films, French couture in the ’30s is highly influenced by Hollywood glamor. For example, on the left; as a nod to French fashion, Linda wears pieces of black silk and organza designed into a polka-dot blouse and a statement pleated collar
On the right, Linda wears a black silk organza dress. Kidao tells British Vogue that she used society portraits by nobility photographer Alexander Bassano for inspiration.
Linda’s Nights Out
You’ll see Linda’s love for fabulous dresses, as she wears them explicitly at the continuous parties she attended. In this scene, Linda’s in a decadent gold lamé dress to portray her carefree attitude.
In addition, the look’s centerpiece is the art-deco-inspired Bulgari necklace she wears as a statement. “We were really, really fortunate to have access to the Bulgari archives,” Kidao says. “A lot of the pieces were authentic.”
Linda At The Ritz
Even though she was fond of dark palettes, Linda didn’t conform to French women’s inclination to monochromatic outfits.
In contrast, Kidao added bright personality to this daytime look with a multi-colored dress and bright green tilt hat through the protagonist. Consequently, throughout the show, you’ll see James portraying Linda in an updo and wearing red lipstick.
Linda’s Wedding Dress
Kidao explains that the medieval era heavily inspired 30s bridal fashion. “So Linda’s dress had a bodice, flared sleeves, and masses of embroidery.”
In fact, the costume designer takes inspiration from Margaret Duchess of Argyll’s 1932 wedding dress. In addition, the jewelry James wore is from Bulgari’s archives, including the tiara.
Banner photo from BBC Player’s Instagram Page