– by Ellen Haile, Contributor
Films have the ability to take us back to eras long gone and fashion in film is part of the fabric that recreates worlds that once existed. Jo Katsaras, costume designer for the movie Half of a Yellow Sun (based on the novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), created a fashionably-forward film with her keen sense of style. “Creating a character for me is about taking everything into account: social status, personality, location, education, moral fiber and, of course, political and cultural influences,” Katsaras told Nowness of her vintage, richly-hued clothing finds. The film, in question, is a love story that follows two sisters’ return to Nigeria and the personal decisions they make in the midst of the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War.
Here are our top five favorite fashion statements made in the film (with no spoilers).
The not-so-identical twin sisters attend an event celebrating Nigerian Independence in chic pastel dresses. Olanna’s (left, played by Thandie Newton) sleek pixie cut makes for a posh, elegant look. While Kainene (right, Anika Noni Rose) styles her hair in a bouffant, her tresses curled into a tail that rests on her shoulder.
With no jewelry or makeup here, Olanna’s vivaciously bright pink dress is a statement all on its own. Having chosen a more simple lifestyle, to the dismay of her parents, she pulls her braids back into a bun, which keeps our attention on her patterned bilowy dress.
The sisters’ fondness of vividly colored western-style dresses is apparent throughout the film. Kainene rocks a flower-patterned dress with her hair braided back, flowing past her shoulders. While Olanna sports a pastel pink dress, her hair styled in a neat bun.
The makeup is again minimal and neutral, successfully keeping the focus on the characters’ wardrobes.
Here Kainene creates a sombre earthy look. Her brown fedora sits neatly atop her short bob, complementing the browns, greens, and dark yellows in her dress.
On a very important day Olanna styles her hair in a braided halo up ‘do and highlights her natural beauty with just a touch of makeup. She’s crowned with long veil decorated with flowers that play up the flower pattern of her lace wedding dress.