I think it’s safe to say that the two best things about Showtime’s Penny Dreadful are Eva Green’s incredible performance as Ms. Ives and the show’s costume/set design. Not only are Vanessa’s dresses meticulously detailed and historically accurate (unlike a lot of period dramas currently… don’t even get me started), but they actually serve as a reflection of her inner state.
Before her descent into… whatever demon possession/spirit world she descends into… she is shown wearing cream and white gowns that blithely billow and flow. During this time, she is untroubled and “innocent”.
RIP cheery Vanessa. Now onto her current state – mad, bad, and dangerous (and maybe possessed by a demon):
Her palette is limited to black and dark hues and the lines of her dress are more severe (often long tight sleeves and high collars). This harsh binary found in her two different styles of dress may not be as simple as “white+airy = innocent, black = scary and corrupted”. Indeed, her costumes after her allegorical “fall” really resemble Victorian mourning attire. I wonder if, since her introduction in the present timeline, Vanessa has been in a formal state of mourning for her former self, her friendship with Mina, and the other lives she upended.
Theories aside, the costumes are glamorous and inspiring. Want to channel the look for the current century?
Look for black mesh, high necklines, long sleeves, fitted waists, lace up boots, and simple black earrings. Here are some items I pulled together on Polyvore that echo her look:
And complete the look with this hair and makeup tutorial from XoVain:
Et voila! Prepare to channel the spirits…