Essie Davis as Miss Phryne Fisher.
As an enthusiast of vintage fashions and a fan of mysteries, I am super excited about the new television series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, based on the books by Kerry Greenwood. Filmed in Melbourne, Australia the debut series was a big hit there and in the UK when it aired last year. Now it’s coming to America on DVD from Acorn and airing on PBS starting April 22.
The Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher, delightfully played by Essie Davis, is a well-clad woman of the world in 1928 with plenty of money, wits, and courage. She’s a Lady Detective toting a gold-plated snub-nose revolver who enjoys the company of handsome male admirers and a good murder to solve. So charming is she, we can’t help but love Miss Fisher and her closet.
The mystery plots are somewhat unsatisfying, however, the costumes by Australian costume designer Marion Bryce are the real treat. Ms. Bryce put together 150 outfits for Miss Fisher including the necessary hats, gloves, and handbags. Many of the accessories used are original pieces, but most of the clothing was built with vintage fabric from Ms. Bryce’s personal collection. “The 1920s was a time of extreme excess in many ways,” comments Ms. Bryce. “They lived a lot with gay abandon and that’s always reflected in the clothing, especially the women’s clothing.”
Our heroine’s zest for life is indeed reflected in her extensive wardrobe. She is always well dressed plotting her next move in silk kimono; chasing bad guys in fine tweed suits; and slinking around potential beaus in beaded gowns. I appreciate that Ms. Bryce reuses several key pieces, including the black and white coat shown in the photo above, allowing viewers to get a really good look.
In addition to Miss Fisher there are the supporting characters and extras, most of which are not of Miss Fisher’s social standing but nevertheless still properly and well-dressed for their class, offering a useful piece of fashion history. The sets and props are nothing to sneeze at either.
For anyone who loves vintage this series is an excellent period resource not to mention a great inspiration for creating our own ensembles. Calling all designers and fashion students – this is a must for you, too.
Hey, and the costumes aren’t the only chichi thing going on with Miss Fisher. The show’s theme tune by Greg J Walker is pretty snazzy as well. (You heard it here first.)
So readers, make a pot of tea (or a cocktail), don your favorite cloche hat (or fedora) and settle in for the adventurous new series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries starting April 22nd on PBS.
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