The Complete Jane Austen "Northanger Abbey" by Natalie Zee Drieu
Oh how I long for bonnets to be in fashion again! After watching Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, I fancy myself for a stroll down the streets of Bath, wearing a long empire-waisted dress, smartly cropped jacket, and of course, a bonnet with a big satin bow.
I first read this Austen novel right after high school and this new Masterpiece Theater version does a great job of capturing the essence of the book as well as having some of the most beautiful costumes I've seen in a long time. The screenplay is by Andrew Davies, who also wrote the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (my absolute favorite with Colin Firth), as well as the hilarious Bridget Jones movies. Northanger Abbey is the story of Catherine Morland (played by actress Felicity Jones), the 17 year-old heroine who emerges outside her small English country home in order to experience the riches of life in Bath, England. It's here at a ball where she falls for Henry Tilney (played by JJ Field). Since this is an Austen story, love doesn't come easy and is complicated with love triangles, simple misunderstandings, and lots of secrets (maybe those bonnets were around for proper secret-listening acoustics). Catherine soon finds herself invited to Northanger Abbey, a grand gothic estate where the Tilney family resides. Catherine's love of gothic novels only spurs her overactive imagination while she's there. A series of dream sequences in the movie captures her imagination and it is both racy and cheeky at the same time. I thought those were done superbly to compliment the main storyline.
The movie is highly entertaining with a feast for all your senses, especially your fashion sense. I love Catherine's powder blue button front coat she wears through out the movie. It could easily be something in Marc Jacob's next runway show, no? The parade of adorable cropped jackets and puffed sleeves, remind me the new crop of clothing I'm seeing in boutiques now.
But let's get back to those super cute bonnets. Adorable! My husband watched this movie with me and was afraid I was going to start knitting myself one when I finished watching. I know they will never completely be back in fashion, so instead I decided to indulge myself into a fashion analysis of the beautiful bonnets in Northanger Abbey.
Here are my top 5 favorite bonnets in order:
5. Catherine's bonnet when she arrives in Bath.
It's the first thing you notice when Catherine steps out of the carriage - that large brown basket bucket shape and it's shiny brown satin that matches the soft pink coat she's wearing. This bonnet sets the theme for what I'd like to call "bonnet watch" for the rest of the movie!
4. Isabella's bonnet when Catherine and her first meet.
Isabella's cream basket-style bonnet is a showstopper with its huge shape, beautiful texture, and a large cream bow detail in the back. This bonnet is actually larger than anyone else's in the movie, reminding us of Isabella's male attention seeking ways, when paired perfectly with her low revealing scoop neck dress.
3. Catherine's hiking bonnet.
I love this bonnet's simple hat style that gets dressed up with the enormous blue satin bow that is tied right under her neck, almost like she's a special package for dashing Henry Tilney. I also love this scene for its notion of "dressing up" for hiking with all of them in their full attire, even Henry Tilney wears a top hat. And yes, if you are extra sharp, you'll realize that Catherine also wears this when she's in the carriage with nasty John Thorpe earlier in the movie, but the bow takes on a much looser shape. I like her with Henry, so I like the hat better when she's with him. Work with me here.
3. Isabella's wide brimmed embroidered bonnet.
Isabella wears this on the way to Blaze Castle and also later at a soiree with Catherine. The straw wide-brimmed hat is tied together with an orange bow in the back. The surprise here is in the back of the head - detailed embroidery of colorful flowers is on the sheer gauze-like material. I think it may be linen.
1. Lavender crochet bonnet worn by Eleanor Tilney.
This is my absolute favorite! I loved how the bonnet was trimmed around the edge in pale pink yarn. The small adornment of pink flowers on top is a nice ornamental touch and complimented well with a soft pink satin ribbon. Set against the backdrop of the dewy English garden of Northanger Abbey, the fiber texture brings in warmth to the scene. I couldn't take my eyes off of it!
Keep a good eye out for all the bonnets that Eleanor Tilney wears. I could basically give that gal best-dressed honors for her bonnets alone. They are all done with different fabrics and textures such as laces and feathers, but never seem gaudy. There's just the right amount of trim and perfectly contrasting ribbon color. Simply heaven! So which bonnet is your favorite?