What Each Big Little Lies Character's Audrey Hepburn Costume Says About Them
By Lauren McCarthy. Photos: Courtesy of HBO.
There is no shortage of strong female characters in Big Little Lies. Madeline, Jane, Celeste, Bonnie, and Renata—portrayed respectively by Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman, Zoe Kravitz, and Laura Dern (whew)—are all diverse, flawed, complex characters slammed together by their differences (and, as the season has been building to, a murder). One female presence in particular, though unseen, looms over the show in a way that will seemingly come to head in Sunday’s series finale: Audrey Hepburn. As we’ve come to learn, the aforementioned murder will take place at Otter Bay Elementary School’s Audrey and Elvis-themed trivia night fundraiser. In the opening credits, the main characters are doing their best Hepburn impressions, preening directly to camera. Ahead of the series finale, which will shed more light on these choices—costume and otherwise—here's a character-by-character analysis of what each woman's Hepburn costume says about them.
Celeste as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: It makes sense that Celeste would choose the most iconic and widely recognized Hepburn character. It’s not that she wants to be the center of attention at trivia night, but rather that she simply didn’t have the time or energy to put into thinking of another character (preparing to leave your abusive husband is pretty time-consuming). Celeste likely had a Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster in her childhood bedroom–not by her own selection, but from some insanely expensive interior decorator hired to craft a dream girl’s bedroom, canapy bed et al. So when she heard the theme, she decided to just go with that. Not that it’s a halfway look. This is the chicest Golightly possible (the real one was not exactly rolling in cash, after all). The dress is almost certainly Givenchy, the pearls real, and the diamond tiara a make-up gift from Perry she probably thought she’d never have an occasion for.
Jane as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Like Celeste, Jane also went for the most obvious Hepburn character. She is a millennial, after all. Does she even know another Hepburn? Plus, it doesn’t seem like our scrappy Jane grew up on cinema. Her vibe is a little more Saved by the Bell and Mary-Kate and Ashley straight-to-VHS. She probably heard the theme was Audrey Hepburn, knew she had a black dress somewhere in her closet from an old job interview, and then high-tailed it down to Party City for a cheap tiara. The fact that she and Celeste both chose the same character also says a lot about their connection; while Madeline is more of a spunky older sister to Jane, Celeste comes off as a motherly, kindred spirit (one with equally mundane taste in Hepburn movies, apparently).
Madeline as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Of course Madeline put a lot of time into her costume. It wouldn’t be below her to slyly poll the other moms about what they are planning, just to make sure no one else shows up in the same look of her. Her decision to dress as Golightly at home makes perfect sense: it’s still Hepburn’s most iconic role, but Madeline is smart enough to know that there will be too many LBD’s for her to stand out. This look is just as recognizable, but ensures that she’ll be in the spotlight. The men’s shirt is obviously Ed’s (and he’ll make sure to let you know), and she overnight shipped the eye-mask from Etsy after finding the perfect seller that hand-makes them up in Portland. Over the course of the evening, she’ll make plenty of self-disparaging comments about “a woman her age wearing a shirt as a dress,” but deep down, she knows she’s nailing it. She ordered brand new Dolce and Gabbana stilettos just for the occasion.
Bonnie as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady: What a surprise. Resident, self-styled free spirit Bonnie is not going the Holly Golightly route. It is a bit of a shock, however, that the yogi went with such a glamorous look—Doolittle’s all-white and major diamonds moment from the ball scene—when we’ve come to know her as such a crunchy granola type. This is a woman who decants her red wine and serves it in hand-crafted clay cups from “Meh-hee-co”. Rather than play into everyone’s perception of her (maybe the rebellious, carefree royal in Roman Holiday?), Bonnie decides to fight fire with fire. She can do glam as well as any of those other Otter Bay moms! Gone are the piles of turquoise and flowing caftans; in their place, diamonds upon diamonds (costume, of course, and her dress is from a cute little consignment shop her friend Ivy owns). Make no mistake, Bonnie belongs at trivia night just as much as any other mom.
Renata as Eliza Doolitte in My Fair Lady: While we don’t see Renata in the opening credits, costume designer Alix Friedberg recently told W __that her favorite look of the series is Renata’s take on the famous ascot dress, also from My Fair Lady (apparently Monterey only has access to two Hepburn movies). As worn by Hepburn in the film, the look is equal parts uptight, regal, and over-the-top: perfect for our uptight, regal, and over-the-top Renata.
This story originally appeared on W.
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