Flowers in the Attic: The Origin (2022) has surprisingly great costumes! No, not surprising because of talented costume designer Nic Ede, but because this is a V.C. Andrews novel adaptation. For those who aren’t familiar, V.C. Andrews wrote a ton of super trashy, usually incest-focused young adult novels written in the 1970s-80s. If you were like me, you read many of them before you realized they were awful — depressing stories about abused girls in LUDICROUS plots. I’m not sure what exactly got me to watch this, except hey, I like trash! Color me shocked to discover some quality costume designs, from both a historical and character perspective.
The story is a prequel to the famous book Flowers in the Attic, which has been adapted twice I believe. This miniseries takes two prequel books and turns it into one continuous story. Now, I’m not even going to review the plot. There are parts I liked, and parts that made NO sense from a character perspective (as in, “why is this character okay with this super weird and creepy development that just happened? Wouldn’t a reasonable person run like hell?” but also sorry, I don’t believe in the 4th quarter arc of the main character). I’m tempted to call them all out! But you get what you sign up for here.
That being said, the acting, script, etc., is strong, with performances by Jemima Rooper as the main character, Olivia; Max Irons as her awful husband Malcolm; and Hannah Dodd as their daughter Corrine, among many others.
Instead, let’s dive right into the costumes, shall we? As I mentioned, they were designed by Nic Ede (Wilde, Bright Young Things, Hysteria, The White Queen — and yes, Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot). Sadly I haven’t found any press interviewing him for his thoughts on the series, but a little birdy told me we may be able to score an interview with him, so look forward to that possibility! It’s obvious that Ede did his research, as so many of the costumes look PERFECT for the period.
The series spans the late 1910s, late 1930s, early and late 1940s, and 1950s, with a little blip to c. 1900 — I think. I did get a little confused on the timeline near the middle. I had thought we were still in the late 1930s, but then there was a reference to World War II having ended (without it being mentioned in the plot previously, which was surprisingly given the family had two military-age sons). So, go with me here! Let’s look at these different periods and see how well Ede’s costume designs channeled the period — and the plot/character — although I am limited by the images I can find online.
The 1910s in Flowers in the Attic: The Origins
I think this period’s costumes are what impressed me most, because they perfectly capture that transition from 1918 to 1920. Let’s start with Olivia, well-to-do secretary who marries a wealthy man. So her costumes should be practical but up to date:
Alicia is a very young and pregnant trophy wife. Her costumes need to be younger and fresher (while accounting for her pregnancy):
Kate Mulgrew plays the housekeeper, Mrs. Steiner:
Now the guys:
The 1930s in Flowers in the Attic: The Origins
We then jump forward. Olivia and Malcolm have had several children, particularly darling Corinne:
Mrs. Steiner is still around:
The 1940s in Flowers in the Attic: The Origins
Story-wise, I got confused on the timeline here. But given the fashion changes, we must be in the 1940s … or 1950s. Because a lot of this looks 1950s. Except the series is supposed to end in 1957, and everyone ages a lot/has children that grow by then. So I’m guessing 1940s.
Olivia’s life is crap, so she wears a lot of dark:
Corinne wears a lot of super cute day dresses that read more 1950s than 1940s to me, so maybe we’re just post-World War II?
Yes, I’ve mostly lost the thread on the men, but look how nicely brother Joel’s clothes suit the period:
c. 1900 in Flowers in the Attic: the Origin
And now, out of order because that’s how it happens story-wise — Corinne wears her grandmother’s c. 1900 ball gown for her debutante ball. AND I LOVED IT.
The 1950s in Flowers in the Attic: the Origins
And finally, a bit of the late 1950s! Corinne:
Olivia embraces the drama:
I hope this reviews inspires you to perhaps watch Flowers in the Attic: The Origin … if you can stand the trash!
What are your thoughts on the historical accuracy of the costumes in Flowers in the Attic: The Origin?