Fashion in film

Jane Austen costumes featuring at Fashion Embroidery & Stitch at NEC, Birmingham.

Fashion in film

It’s one of the most iconic plain white shirts in television history and inspired a new generation of women to hunt for their Mr Darcy.

Now there is an opportunity to see the actual white linen shirt that was worn by Colin Firth in the BBC’s adaptation of Pride & Prejudice after he swims in the lake, along with a collection of other period drama costumes.

While most of us will remember it worn by a very handsome Mr Darcy, it will soon be on display at Fashion Embroidery Stitch which is coming to the NEC, Birmingham from 21-24 March.  The show will be celebrating Pride and Prejudice’s bicentenary along with her other beloved classics, with a star-studded collection of costumes from some of the most famous television and film adaptations.  It is a fantastic opportunity to see exactly what goes in to the creation of some of the most iconic outfits in costume drama, with each outfit depicting the changing fashions of the time and showcasing the exquisite needlework and craftsmanship that went into their design. 

One of the best known adaptations of Austen’s 1813 novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was a six-episode BBC TV drama in 1995.  Starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, the series received critical acclaim with Jennifer winning a BAFTA for Best Actress for her performance and costume designer Dinah Collin being recognised with an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design.

The costumes reflect the wealth, status and personality of each character.  Due to limitations, each costume had to be designed and made from scratch for the series, with Dinah recognising the importance of authenticity while still giving the costumes a contemporary element to make them attractive to a modern audience.

Included in the collection are some of the most iconic outfits from the series including Elizabeth’s striped silk taffeta empire-style wedding gown from when she marries her true love Mr Darcy and his white linen shirt from when he emerges from the lake on his Pemberley estate.  This was the moment that eclipsed all other actors who had played Darcy, and instantly catapulted Firth to stardom, making this the most favoured adaptation of this novel for many.

The BAFTA and Oscar award winning adaptation of Austen’s 1811 novel ‘Sense and Sensibility’ received critical praise.  The costumes were important to its success and were masterminded by renowned British costume designers Jenny Beavan and John Bright.  Included in the collection are some of the film’s most recognisable costumes including; Elinor Dashwood’s (Emma Thompson) simple muslin dress which she wears to afternoon tea at Barton Park and also for a picnic at their own cottage; Marianne Dashwood’s (Kate Winslet) moss green silk dress worn on their move to Devon and on her deathly walk across the fields to see Willoughby’s home; and Colonel Brandon’s (Alan Rickman) black corduroy jacket and black and red striped waistcoat.

The difference between the luxurious costumes of the landed gentry and the plainer clothes of the lower classes can clearly be seen when comparing Gwyneth Paltrow’s dress from her title role in the Oscar nominated adaptation of Austen’s 1815 novel ‘Emma’ and Fanny Price’s (Billie Piper) dresses from the ITV adaptation of Austen’s 1814 novel ‘Mansfield Park’.  Each dress reflects the social status of the leading lady with Emma’s elaborate green and white dress worn in the famous scene on Box Hill and Fanny’s plain green striped cotton dress worn throughout the series on display at the show.

Other show features include:

  • More than 300 exhibitors offering the latest craft inspiration and advice
  • Catwalk Fashion Shows
  • Advice and top tips in the Sewing Hub and Knitting Lounge
  • Beautiful work from the Calais Lace Museum
  • Corsetry and costume designer Jo Penton
  • The exciting Smocking Treasures of the WI collection celebrating this traditional English craft.
  • Help to celebrate the best of British with the brand new Glimpses of Blighty display.
  • A free programme of Quick & Easy Workshops, Talks and Demonstrations each day of the show.

For more information and to buy tickets, please visit