Fashion: An angel in my autumn wardrobe

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The Independent Culture
Every so often a film comes out that either sets a fashion (remember Out of Africa?) of underlines it. Jane Campion's new film, The Piano, is one of these. Set in 19th-century New Zealand, it tells the story of a mute woman who arrives from Scotland to meet her new husband and, as their life unfolds and she takes a lover, her crinolines impede her sexual liberation and symbolise the age in which she lives. As such, the clothes play an important role in the story. And as such, there is an irony in the excitement that the clothes from The Piano have engendered among designers and image-makers at a time when women's sexual freedom is on the whole won. But nevertheless, the pictures you see here are a tribute to Jane Campion's cinematic sensibility, and to The Piano in particular.

not only have the stylist and the photographer been inspired by the film but the designers whose work they thought most suitable, Ellis Flyte and Richard Ostell, have long been fans of Campion's films. Thus they were more than tolerant when one of their wistful and romantic dresses was deemed best photographed on a model knee-deep in a muddy autumn pond. The picture achieved the desired effect, but the dress was left with a slimy tidemark. Unfazed by the damage, the designers took the dress back and threw it in the washing machine. It emerged damp and crumpled and they hung it up to dry. Enter the buyers from a major New York store, hot on the trail of the new crumpled and unironed look. They saw the dress. They loved it. They demanded it be included in the Flyte Ostell collection and then they bought it as one of the styles. Richard Ostell says he always thought Jane Campion's last movie, An Angel at my Table, was his favourite. Now he's changed his mind.

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