Breezy dresses and swimsuits were the staple wardrobe for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter,” now streaming on Netflix. With filming taking place in Greece, costume designer Edward K. Gibbon turned to Athens vintage stores to build custom looks for the film’s cast.
Olivia Colman anchors the film, as Leda, a college professor with two adult daughters and a mysterious past who rents a house by herself on a picturesque island.
When audiences first meet Leda, Gibbon wanted to present her as a very elegant woman with a neutral persona. “She’s very much looking like a woman in control and someone who knew what suited her, so we toned her wardrobe down,” says Gibbon.
It’s the feature directing debut for Gyllenhaal, who envisioned Leda’s wardrobe having a classic feel. “So we tried to do that with the colors and simple shapes that she wears – pencil skirts, silk blouses- it all has a timelessness to it,” says Gibbon. The idea, Gibbon says was there would be no judgment to Leda, “but as things come to the surface, we experiment and color creeps in.”
While at the beach, Leda meets Nina, an American woman from Queens, played by Dakota Johnson. Leda slowly becomes obsessed with Nina and her young daughter. Nina’s restrained style is the exact opposite of Leda’s louder style, which allowed for contrasting wardrobes. “There was an element of pushing color and noise with Nina,” says Gibbon. At one point, she wears a vintage Alexander McQueen pale yellow leather skirt which he found in Athens, paired with casual rubber Haviana flip-flops.
Dealing with the dynamics of a noisy, demanding extended family, Nina’s character is someone who isn’t fulfilled in life. “She looks gorgeous, but it’s not enough for her. She’s surrounded by oppressive people.” Outrageously designed swimsuits were one way to show her flashier style. “We also put her in tacky jewelry at the beach which would seem odd, but it was perfect for her character,” he says.
One of Gibbon’s favorite looks is the shocking pink dress that Leda is wearing when she happens upon a party on the island. The dress was a Max Mara design that complemented where she is at this point. It’s the first time audiences see her uninhibited and enjoying herself as she lets loose and dances. “It is a stark contrast from the controlled and limited palette that her character wears for the majority of the film and it symbolizes her character’s journey.”