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'Mildred Pierce' captures an era through costumes

March 27, 2011 |  8:45 am

Will the HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce” create the fashion frenzy launched by “Mad Men?” Probably not, but the costumes are nonetheless wonderful to behold. 

When the series premieres Sunday night, viewers will find that legendary costume designer Ann Roth (“Klute,” “Easy Rider,” “The English Patient”) was more interested in authenticity than she was in creating a fantasy of Depression-era fashion, going so far as to patch and iron dresses to create the illusion of a well worn garment.

“Costuming is not fashion—we’re not doing a Vogue spread,” Roth tells writer Emili Vesilind. “It was the way people dressed. If a lady lived in the Valley and hadn’t been anywhere, she didn’t see [high] fashion.”

But that doesn’t mean there will be no glamour as the show goes on. While Roth describes Pierce’s personal style as “cautious,” especially in her early years, her daughter Veda (played by Evan Rachel Wood) wears increasingly gorgeous designs as she morphs into a famous coloratura soprano.

Read more of Vesilind’s story on Roth and her vision for "Mildred Pierce." To see examples of the looks created by Roth and her team, click on our “Fashions of Mildred Pierce” photo gallery.  

--Deborah Netburn

Photo: Kate Winslet in a scene from "Mildred Pierce" wearing a floral housedress authentic to the Depression era.  Credit: Andrew Schwartz/HBO