The Big Task of Dressing Little Women

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Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh had a difficult role ahead of her in dressing the cast of BBC’s Little Women in an authentic 1868 look to grab Boxing Day audiences.

“The research is really part of the design process so it’s about how you put a whole look together,” she told the BBC. “I often say to friends of mine who say ‘how do you do it’ or ‘do you do everything’ that nothing is accidental. Everything that goes on camera, not just the costumes but also the set, has been chosen very carefully and purposefully – but I try not to narrow things down too much. For me it’s really important to have a broad base of references. The crinoline was the height of fashion in the 1860s so we’re keeping them for eveningwear because the girls are quite young and we want them to have a  bit of freedom. But these are just great fun – if you put that under your dress you get a lovely circular Disney effect.”

“I just love that we go into a shop in Shepherd’s Bush and find this fabric and it becomes part of a costume from Victorian London. Once the actors realise ‘it does feel different… but it makes me stand differently and it makes me walk differently’ and they incorporate that into the character.”

The new version of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott has been adapted by Heidi Thomas, creator and writer of Call the Midwife. It will air across three nights on BBC1 on Boxing Day and Wednesday 27th December beginning at 8pm and on Thursday 28th December it will be broadcast at 8:30pm.

The story is a poignant and semi-autobiographical ‘coming of age’ story as four girls rise to womenhood. Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy March are four sisters living with their mother in New England. Their father is away serving as a chaplain in the Civil War and the sisters struggle to support themselves as the family recently lost its fortune. Each faces her own moral challenges. Jo must tame her tomboyish ways and learn to be more ladylike while pursuing her ambition to be a great writer while in contrast Meg, the oldest, must put aside her love of wealth in order to follow her heart.

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