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The audience is rarely without a moment to savor the impeccable fit of Sebastian's suits, the luxury of Julia's silky kimono gowns, or Lady Marchmain's regal wraps and dresses. To emphasize Lady Marchmain's devotion to her faith, Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh dressed Thompson in a cape of papal purple with embroidery of wheat -- a nod to the host wafer of Catholic Mass.
The disparity between Ryder and his rich new friends is all the more apparent, given the era's excesses.
"I wanted to show the energy and the hope and expectancy that was there after the first World War," Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh said. "I wanted it to be through the eyes of Charles Ryder, to look at this unattainable world. . . . He's from this cloistered, dusty house in London, and suddenly he's hanging out with hedonists and loving every moment of it. From his eyes, it's all heightened reality. Everything is more beautiful."
As anyone who's lusted after a beautiful Fendi baguette or Gucci suit can tell you, that kind of lust can be dangerous.
Hayley Atwell, as Julia Flyte, in fine silk.