Ryan Murphy’s drama «Ratched» – a visual feast of cinched taffeta and full, formidably sculpted skirts and hats – is a joy to watch as much for the costumes as for the quirky, marvelous acting. The series which airs on Netflix stars Sarah Paulson as Mildred Ratched or Big Nurse as she came to be known in the movie based on Ken Kesey’s novel «One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest» (1975) which made Jack Nicholson legendary. But Sarah Paulson’s femme fatale, elegantly wrapped in cinched taffeta is a far cry from Louise Fletcher’s Oscar winning interpretation of the monstrous nurse in the movie. Way more stylized the series tells the backstory of Ratched’s life before she came to work on the mental hospital in Kesey’s book.
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Sarah Paulson delights us with a Mildred Ratched who is a cold, ruthless power woman, utterly feminine yet fiercely dominant and with a bold wardrobe to match. The costumes and interiors are inspired by films and fashions of the 1940’s and what better designer to draw inspiration from than Christian Dior of course? Paulson’s Ratched could have wandered straight off the runway featuring Dior’s legendary «new look» collection from 1947: there’s strong architectural silhouettes, big A-line swirly skirts, round padded shoulders, bardot necklines, disc-like hats, and snappy handbags. A much-appreciated gift for women after the second World War.
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Christian Dior wrote about the collection himself in his autobiography: «We were just emerging from a poverty-stricken, parsimonious era, obsessed with ration books and clothes coupons. It was only natural that my creations should take the form of a reaction against this dearth of imagination.» In other words: we are talking lavish more-is-more.
The costumes worn by both Paulson, Sharon Stone, Judy Davis, Cynthia Nixon and the rest of the cast are designed by Lou Eyrich and Rebecca Guzzi who also worked with Ryan Murphy on «American Horror Story» – another must-see series for fans of fashion and gore.
Sharon Stone’s character – a mother out to revenge her mutilated sun – sports a particularly blingy wardrobe with furs and costume jewelry that looks both glamorously vintage and yet uncannily relevant of today’s boho-style aficionados. You want to copy the style all you got to do is swap the fox and mink stoles with the faux fur variety of course.
But – most of all «Ratched» is the fabulous Sarah Paulson’s show. Her cold, bitch-faced Ratched is as kickass elegant as she is manipulative and could easily have quoted Brett Easton Ellis’ serial killer Patrick Bateman from American Psycho: «All it comes down to is this: I feel like shit but look great.»