“Dot, a woman should dress first and foremost for her own pleasure. Having grown up in second flannels, there is nothing quite so divine as the feel of silk underwear, the touch of soft fox, the slither of a satin skirt. If these things happen to appeal to men, well… really that’s a side issue.” Miss Phryne Fisher, Murder a la Mode
I have only recently discovered the wonderfulness that is Miss Fisher’s Mysteries, an Aussie detective series set in 1920s Melbourne, following the adventures of “lady detective”, the Honorable Phryne (fry-nee, rhymes with briny) Fisher and am totally captivated. Phryne is the woman that we all want to be–witty, resourceful, and fighting for the rights of the underdog–whilst still looking fabulous in a dazzling array of 1920s outfits.
I love the fashions of the 1920s and Miss Fisher’s Mysteries is a buffet of delights. Naturally, the person with the best clothes is Phryne herself played by the divine Essie Davis (The Babadook, Lady Crane on Game of Thrones Season 6). Phryne’s family, headed by her drunken gambler father, lived in poverty until her father inherited money and a title (the other heirs having died during the Great War). Fine clothes are, in part, Phryne’s way of making up for the deprivation of her childhood. Phryne is a liberal minded woman with an interest in the arts so her clothes reflect her modern, non-traditional, fashion-forward perspective.
Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) in her linen hat and car coat.
One of the things that I like about Miss Fisher’s Mysteries is that Phryne is shown wearing the same costume items (in several different ways) throughout the episodes just as a real person would. The linen hat and car coat (above) make a number of appearances throughout the series. While Phryne wears a number of different hat styles, the curved brim hat tends to be her signature look. The brim echoes the curve of Phryne’s bob and draws the viewer’s eye to the actor’s face.
Dot Williams (Ashleigh Cummings) and Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) in Miss Fisher’s awesome Hispano-Suiza motorcar.
When Phryne first met Dottie Williams, the latter was a mousy maid in an undesirable employment situation. Over the course of three seasons, Dot gradually evolves into a self-confident detective’s assistant. As she does so, her fashions gradually become more modern–although never as modern as Miss Fisher’s–and her colors become stronger.
Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) in his working day detective garb.
Phryne’s ally on the police force–and her partner in a slow burning and elegantly underplayed tango of attraction–is Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). Jack is almost always dressed noirishly, a good man walking the mean streets, so those occasions when he appears in civvies are always worthy of note.
Fresh off the boat. Phryne Fisher, looking smart in her nautical ensemble, walking arm-in-arm with Dr. Elizabeth “Mac” Macmillan (Tammy Macintosh).
Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) rockin’ it as Cleopatra a la Claudette Colbert at her cousin’s fancy dress party.
Next to a gold-plated, pearl-handled revolver, a stiletto in the garter is the ultimate must-have accessory for the fashionable sleuth.