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SCREEN STYLE / FASHION

Just One of the Guys

November 10, 1995|BETTY GOODWIN

The Movie: "Carrington"

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The Setup: Unconventional relationship of early 20th-Century English painter Dora Carrington (Emma Thompson) and distinguished homosexual writer Lytton Strachey (Jonathan Pryce, pictured above with Thompson).

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The Costume Designer: English designer Penny Rose, whose credits include "The Commitments," "Strapless," "Shadowlands."

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The Look: One of the guiding free spirits of the Bloomsbury Group, Carrington is a pre-World War II poster girl for fashion renegades. Stiff, mid-calf Edwardian frocks were the norm, but Carrington spends her days in jodhpurs and Wellington boots.

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You Should Know: Carrington also wears homemade floral shmatte fashioned from old curtains as well as odds and ends from bits of found textiles. "She'd find a piece of tapestry on a cushion and make it into a vest," Rose says of Carrington. The flowing shirts and coats bearing Arts and Crafts embroidery indicate handiwork Carrington would have done herself.

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Quoted: "These people were English aristocrats who were black sheep," Rose says. "Girls like Dora Carrington left home and went to art college, which was frowned upon, didn't marry and lived in strange rooms in Bloomsbury with very little money."

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Hit: The women who swirl around the Bloomsbury couple are a wonderfully vivid lot, offbeat in their own way, including Lady Ottoline Morrell (Penelope Wilton) in turbans and multiple layers of bright cut velvets and loads of fringe.

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Inspiration: Detailed clothing references in the biography "The Art of Dora Carrington" by Jane Hill, including the jodhpurs and floral dresses; period photos.

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Sources: A combination of custom-made and original. Some of Carrington's dresses were made (at London's Cosprop) "purposefully" badly to look homemade.

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