by Donna Klein
A Glimpse into Eliza’s Closet
There is nothing quite like the Edwardian fashions of My Fair Lady. Whether you look at the original Broadway production from 1964 starring Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle or one of the revivals, or you get lost in the 1964 movie starring Audrey Hepburn, you can’t help but be enveloped in the beauty of Edwardian fashion. This is the one of most indelible memories taken from being part of the Roger City Community Theatre’s production this month. We are very grateful to Recollections for clothing our Eliza!
The story takes place in 1912. Eliza starts out as a Cockney flower girl, a ‘mere guttersnipe,’ selling her wares on the street to passersby. Looking more Victorian than Edwardian, the clothes in her closet tell us a lot about her station in life.
As she pursues her desire to improve her station in life under the tutelage of Professor Henry Higgins, her closet contains garments befitting a school girl. Whimsical and young, her clothes show the transition from selling flowers on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and contain the hope of what she is destined to become.
Once she is ready for her first test as a lady, she is invited to attend Ascot, where she is presented as a lady to the unknowing attendees. Dressed to the hilt in white and black with some of the largest, fanciest hats ever seen at the races, everyone is trying to make the biggest, most exquisite impression. Eliza attracts much attention, as she is most beautifully dressed. However, a few more lessons are in order so she can manage small talk without sliding back into the gutter!
Soon, she is ready to be presented at an Embassy Ball. Elegantly clad in a simply lovely tea gown. The elegant and delicate style provide a glimpse into the transition that fashion was experiencing at the time. The dress is as forward-looking as the newly empowered Eliza. She more proves to herself as well as others that she is ready to move forward into a new life.
Once she is ready to stand on her own, her closet contains a beautifully tailored suit that any Edwardian woman would be proud to wear to daytime appointments or to work. Perhaps, she will become a ‘lady in a flower shop.’ Perhaps, she will own the flower shop and help another young woman rise from poverty.
She also celebrates her feminine side in a beautiful pink dress worthy of the most elegant garden party. This dress represents the perfect way to say goodbye to the old and embrace the new. It is like a brand new flower on a beautiful spring day.
Thanks for taking a glimpse inside Eliza’s closet!