Providing not only one of the most complex female characters to grace the small screen in some time, but a stonking working wardrobe to boot, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s turn in new BBC Two drama The Honourable Woman is doubly addictive.
Playing Nessa Stein – an Anglo-Israeli businesswoman and British peer who transforms her murdered father’s arms empire into a philanthropic business – she kicked off the series with a sharp pixie crop and a form-fitting Roland Mouret dress worn with pointy black courts. It was the kind of look that could kick ass in the House of Lords but also garner nods from fashion people in the know.
'Maggie’s character is not what she seems, so I decided not to overcomplicate and overstylise things,’ explains Edward K Gibbon, the show’s costume designer. ‘She’s using clothes as armour, a layer of protection between her and the world.’ As for the actor herself, Edward says, ‘Maggie was completely brilliant on every level and very engaged from the start. She came over two weeks early for meetings. We went shopping together and talked an awful lot. One of the things she was really interested in was how sex is important to the character, so that’s where we reached the idea of lingerie and tailoring – a strong woman’s take on powerful dressing.’
Dress, £697.50, Roland Mouret at The Outnet; Patent courts, £52, Office; Blouse, £580, Mulberry; Blue jacket, £310, and trousers, £170, both Gerard Darel; Cami, £42, Intimissimi; Maxidress, £174, Gorgeous Couture; Coat, £1,425, MaxMara
Many of the standout pieces – like the silk blouses inspired by ’70s Yves Saint Laurent or the dramatic Lanvin-esque evening dress seen at the end of the first episode (below) – were made in-house. And to put her Stella McCartney suiting or Mulberry camel coat (far right) to greatest effect, Nessa’s look is prepped for her the day before, so it is steamed, waiting on a clothes stand and ready to roll from dawn until her somewhat tricky job is done. The plot is unfolding, and so is our shopping list...