The Dressmaker – The making of the hit movie and its costumes
Welcome to the world of The Dressmaker, where haute couture and the Australian outback are brilliantly combined.
When Paris-trained fashion designer Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) arrives in the sleepy country town of Dungatar in the early 1950s, she is no stranger to the locals.
She sets about transforming the townspeople through fashion – from quiet Gertrude Pratt (Sarah Snook) to eccentric Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving).
Soon life in Dungatar will never be the same. There will be revenge, love and tragedy. Justice will be swift … and very well-dressed.
The Dressmaker is based on the novel by Rosalie Ham and comes from the filmmaking team of director Jocelyn Moorhouse and producer Sue Maslin.
This collection features behind-the-scenes interviews with actors Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving and Liam Hemsworth as well as insights from Jocelyn Moorhouse, Sue Maslin and costume designers Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson.
It complements The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition, which ran at the NFSA from 18 April until 18 August 2019.
This short featurette, filmed behind-the-scenes of The Dressmaker (2015), features interviews with cast and crew about the the importance of the costumes in the film and the process of creating and sourcing pieces for each character.
Interviewed are actors Kate Winslet, Sarah Snook, Liam Hemsworth and Hugo Weaving, along with director Jocelyn Moorehouse, producer Sue Maslin, and costume designers Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson.
Costume designer Marion Boyce talks about one of the central themes of The Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse, Australia, 2015) being the use of fashion as a weapon for Tilly's revenge.
The dresses she creates for the people of the town of Dungatar are used by Tilly (Kate Winslet) as a bargaining tool for information as she desperately seeks the truth about the past.
Marion Boyce is an award-winning costume designer, exhibition curator and vintage specialist. She won AACTA Awards for her work on Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2013) and The Dressmaker (2015).
In an exclusive interview with the NFSA, Hugo Weaving discusses the evolution of his character from The Dressmaker (2015), the local police officer – Sergeant Farrat.
Weaving describes the way in which the costumes worn by him play a large part in visually representing Farrat's transformation in the film.
In this excerpt from an oral history interview with director Jocelyn Moorhouse, she talks about her hands-on involvement in the research for, and creation of the look and style of, the costumes in the film The Dressmaker (2015).
Lorna Lesley interviewed Jocelyn Moorhouse for the NFSA Oral History program in 2016.
Producer Sue Maslin, in a short behind-the-scenes interview, explains how the mother-daughter relationship between Tilly (Kate Winslet) and Molly (Judy Davis) is at the very heart of The Dressmaker (2015).
Kate Winslet, star of The Dressmaker (2015), talks about learning to sew on the vintage Singer sewing machine that her character Tilly uses in the film.
It felt important to Winslet to know how to sew and use the machine properly as it added so much to the character she played.
Director and screenwriter Jocelyn Moorhouse, in an oral history interview with the NFSA, talks about finding the perfect setting for the film The Dressmaker (2015).
Lorna Lesley interviewed Jocelyn Moorhouse for the NFSA Oral History program in 2016.
Designer Margot Wilson, who created the costumes for Tilly (Kate Winslet) in The Dressmaker (2015), talks about working with Winslet, in a behind-the-scenes interview on the set of the film.
In this behind-the-scenes interview, costume designer Marion Boyce explains why Gertrude (played by Sarah Snook) was her favourite character to dress in the film The Dressmaker (2015).
This is an excerpt from a documentary on one of Australia's most acclaimed film editors, Jill Bilcock: The Art of Film Editing (2017).
In the clip, Bilcock is seen working on footage of the film The Dressmaker (2015) as she talks about what she believes are the key elements that go into great editing.
Also featured in this clip are Jocelyn Moorhouse, who directed The Dressmaker, and Cate Blanchett.
In this excerpt from the NFSA's oral history interview with award-winning screen producer Sue Maslin, she talks about why she was attracted to making an adaptation of Rosalie Ham's novel and some of the challenges of making The Dressmaker (2015).
Ken Berryman interviewed Sue Maslin for the NFSA Oral History program in 2016.
In this scene from The Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse, Australia, 2015), Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returns to the tiny, outback town of Dungatar, to the community that cast her out as a young girl after accusing her of a terrible crime.
Having quietly slipped back into town late one evening, spotted only by local police officer Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving), Tilly sets about making her presence known the following day at a local football match. Tilly's appearance stops everyone in their tracks when she arrives wearing a striking, red silk-taffeta dress with matching stilettos and dark glasses.
Her arrival elicits all manner of reactions, on and off the football field. Teddy (Liam Hemsworth) reveals his cheeky and flirtatious side, and Sergeant Farrat can barely contain his adoration of her luxurious dress. Meanwhile, we get a glimpse into the spitefulness of other characters, including local Shire President, Evan Pettyman (Shane Bourne) and the snooty Elsbeth Beaumont (Caroline Goodall).
The presence of Tilly's mother Molly (Judy Davis), who was shunned by most of the community after Tilly left, tips us off that Dungatar bears the weight of some dark secrets.
This scene signals that the stage is now set for alliances to be forged and battles to begin.
A rival seamstress, Una Pleasance (Sacha Horler), arrives in Dungatar at the invitation of Shire President, Evan Pettyman (Shane Bourne). She is astounded by the sight of the townspeople going about their daily routine dressed in striking couture gowns and beautifully tailored daywear.
This scene from The Dressmaker (2015) has a kooky and bizarre comic element to it, particularly the sight of Gertrude Pratt (Sarah Snook) teetering across the dusty dirt road in high heels and tightly fitted frock with arms outstretched. Meanwhile her mother Muriel (Rebecca Gibney), the local shopkeeper, is atop a ladder reaching for a blown lightbulb in the backside of the 'Golden Fleece' sign while dressed in a powder blue, Grecian-style, draped gown.
While showcasing many of the beautiful costumes from the film and how they contrast with the dusty, brown setting of Dungatar, the scene also signals the impact Tilly (Kate Winslet) is already having upon the town, with the locals abuzz over the latest crate of exotic fabrics that has just arrived for her from overseas.
At first the young ladies of the town are suspicious of Una, not wanting to share their secret about the source of their fine clothes, until Muriel reveals the details of the 'local girl ... up on the hill'.
Author Rosalie Ham sometimes signposts her characters' personalities through their names. For example, Una Pleasance reveals her 'unpleasantness' to Tilly during their first exchange, while sleazy politician Evan Pettyman is indeed a petty man. It comes as no surprise then to learn that these two contemptuous characters have teamed up against Tilly.
In this scene from The Dressmaker (2015), Teddy (Liam Hemsworth) is being fitted for a suit by Tilly (Kate Winslet). He uses the opportunity to attempt to win her over, despite her having already told him she could not get involved because she is cursed.
This scene also includes a key exchange between Molly (Judy Davis) and Tilly. Molly proves that she has been paying close attention to Tilly's work and recognises her unique talent and the impact she's had on the town. It is a significant turning point in Molly and Tilly's relationship as Molly finally lets her guard down.
There is also a very skilfully shot comic moment in this scene with the two bickering women on opposite sides of the frame, paying little attention to the handsome Teddy in the centre, stripping off his clothes to be measured.
This colour poster for The Dressmaker (2015) features one of the iconic images of Kate Winslet from the film.
Impeccably dressed in a white hat and tailored black coat, she carries a vintage Singer sewing machine and stands against a dusty outback backdrop.
The poster also features the film's tagline, 'Revenge is back in fashion'.
Filmmaker and author Jocelyn Moorhouse in conversation with journalist Alex Sloan, with an introduction by NFSA CEO Jan Müller.
In 2019 the NFSA had the pleasure of hosting Jocelyn Moorhouse at our Canberra headquarters to discuss the release of her book, Unconditional Love: A Memoir of Filmmaking and Motherhood.
In a 50-minute conversation with journalist Alex Sloan, Moorhouse talked about her book, and balancing her career as a filmmaker with raising four children
Recorded on 29 April 2019, this session was presented in association with the Australian National University and The Canberra Times 'Meet the Author' series.