Now you see it, now you see it again
Pt 7: Well suited… or not
During the 1920s women’s suits for work or travel presented many of the same stylistic features as men’s - practical but elegant, with a straight, curveless cut. Suits were mostly made of wool with straight, hip-length jackets worn over straight matching skirts presenting a narrow silhouette.
Phryne wears few suits as part of her day wear but does have a stunning example which she wears in both Seasons 1 and 2 - the red/beige plaid with shawl fur collar. And when she wears it, there is a certain amount of chemistry involved.
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
― C.G. Jung
In S1 Ep4, Death at Victoria Dock, the red suit is very much part of the contrasting red and white colour palette, worn with deep red felt hat with red felt trim, black handbag and shoes.
We first see it when she goes to interview the family of missing school girl, Lila in their home, where Phryne picks up on some chemistry between Lila’s brother Paul, and step mother.
Then, she continues her interviews with the Mother Superior at the convent where Lila presented to become a postulant; the suit blends with the stained glass and frescos of the surrounds
But it appears equally in harmony in terms of colour tones in her own home:
The suit reappears similarly accessorised but with a rather gorgeous red beaded handbag, in the very next episode, S1 Ep5 Raisins and Almonds when chemical formulas must be discovered, as chemical compounds become motives for murder.
Jack’s knowledge of hidden equations impresses at home:
And in the lab the red suit is worn for both a gruesome discovery,
and for the discovery of the formula for artificial rubber worth its weight in gold, and worth murdering to obtain.
Despite the chemistry between our two, the man of honour remains stoic.
And then there’s S2 Ep7, Blood at the Wheel. Argh, we so need to discover the hidden formula here, but it doesn’t happen, not in this ep. The chemistry is all wrong.
Phryne wears the suit with red hat(s), red leather gloves, handbag and shoes, as she shows she is ignorant of Jack’s feelings of the night before and usurps his breakfast, before dashing off to confront Ailsa.
With a change of hat, this time with black and cream felt circles, we can see the silhouette of the suit in Ailsa’s garage:
The outfit too becomes the source of her acting in favour of Ailsa, against Jack, as she delays his making an arrest until after Ailsa can reconcile her deed with her adopted daughter:
Delay by locking
Delay by stocking
Back at the station (and we might have a continuity issue here with hats), Phryne counters Lachlan Pepper’s complaints about the race with a revelation about his bloodline. (At least there’s a bonus lean with hands in pockets in the background)
The stocking returns in the final scene:
Phryne: Ah, Jack, I was beginning to give up hope. Whisky?
Jack: Oh, no, thank you.
Phryne: You’re not indulging tonight?
Jack: I came to return something of yours you left in my car.
Phryne: You didn’t wash it?
Jack: I didn’t see much point. The exhaust pipe burnt right through it.
Phryne: It was only a small delay.
Jack: Engineered by you, once again to your own advantage.
Phryne: I know we have some minor points of contention, Jack. But we enjoy uncovering the truth together, don’t we?
Jack: Therein lies the problem…
But then we’d be back at the gold bolero post…