At home with Phryne Fisher: now you see it, now you see it again Pt 13
“Marion had the silk cardigan fabric and when she started designing for Phryne this was the first time she wanted to cut it up.”
(MFMM Costume Exhibition catalogue, 2014)
Phryne’s beautiful, soft silk knit long line cardigan is for ‘at home’. She wears it over cream silk faille pants or raw silk skirt together with cream silk blouses of various necklines and collars - tie, mandarin, v-neck, round, roll, cowl and boat necks. She accessorises it with a long scarf with gold thread that follows the line of the cardigan, or a green silk chiffon brooch. Phryne looks relaxed and casual but elegant and stylish to entertain, and interrogate!
Right from the first episode, home sitting rooms double as investigation rooms. In Series 1 Episode 1 Cocaine Blues, headache powders are suspected of being laced with cocaine - Phryne confirms the doctor’s opinion.
Phryne: Definitely cocaine.
Mac: I’m the doctor.
Phryne: Just to make sure.
Jack learns early on that he needs to find a place in the St Kilda incident rooms if his cases are to run smoothly. In Murder on the Ballarat Train an offer of tea precedes an offer of evidence. This time a green ‘sea anemone’ silk chiffon brooch augments the outfit.
Phryne: Morning, Inspector. I was just on my way to see you.
Jack: To explain yourself, I hope.
Jack: I can’t believe your hide. Appropriating a child who should have been in the care of the state.
Phryne: State care? You know what those places are like. And if that woman was Jane’s aunt, I’ll eat my cloche. The poor child clearly loathed her.
Jack: None of this explains how that ‘poor child’ came to be in possession of Mrs Henderson’s jewels, or what she had to do with the murder.
Phryne: It’s lucky for you I convinced Jane she should speak with you. Come in, Jane!
And from her own home to another’s in The Green Mill Murder, the cream and gold accessories blend seamlessly with the Freeman’s decor. The Freemans are a family in crisis - societal prejudice and family secrets lead to confrontation and tension as Phryne finds ways to solve and absolve.
Death By Miss Adventure supports a similar theme of bigotry as the episode reopens wounds for Phryne with the reappearance of Murdoch Foyle, and Mac hides her own wounds - ironic for a doctor. Mac finds it difficult to open up to her closest friend, even in the comfort of her parlour.
Aunt P voices society’s intolerance of difference in a visit to Phryne’s home to warn her of the hospital board’s view of Dr Mac’s ‘unconventional activities’. The setting and Phryne’s outfit are in parallel for both conversations.
Narrow views of women’s place in society, with car racing as a metaphor, provoke reactions from Phryne in Blood at the Wheel. Her parlour and the cream outfit with green sea anemone silk chiffon brooch, play host to meetings with two men, one immediately after the other, Lachlan Pepper from the VAA and Jack.
Pepper comes to Phryne’s home to ensure she cannot race in place of Gerty Haynes. He dismisses suggestions of race fixing, is offhand at the mention of past attachments and perfunctory in his manner.
Pepper: You women are all the same.
Phryne: I’m quite sure we aren’t.
Pepper: Ah, no, your threats are wasted on me, Miss Fisher. Your driving offences are on the record. My hands are tied… Good evening to you too, Miss Fisher.
Wheels within wheels as the confrontation with Pepper is immediately followed by a quieter dissonance between Phryne and Jack. At this point Jack is unable to express the depth of his feelings for her, and she is so distracted by the case that she misreads the reasons for his dark mood and disquiet.
Phryne: Did you follow up on Antony’s story?
Jack: The girl can’t be found, but the manager of the York Street Hotel thinks Mr Rose checked in.
Phryne: Hardly watertight.
Jack: No, but I can’t question him again without further evidence.
Phryne: But you could question our friend Pepper. See what comes to light.
Jack: I intend to. I’ll see myself out.
And so ends one of the most devastating scenes in the show (IMHO).
Thank goodness the cardigan makes another appearance and I don’t have to end the post at this point. Dead Air has the cardigan and cream accessories playing host in Phryne’s parlour to interviews and evidence sharing again.
First to the all-too-helpful Jimmy Creswick:
Phryne: While you’re here, I would like a quiet word about Louisa.
Creswick: Of course.
And then to Jack/Archie. Here again we have mirroring of setting and outfits as in Miss Adventure and Wheel, but on this occasion the chord struck between Phryne and 'Archie’ is anything but dissonant.
Jack: Who told Hazel Creswick I should diversify into singing?
Phryne: I’m not sure, but it certainly is a wonderful suggestion.
Jack: I’m glad my feeble undercover attempt provides you with amusement.
Phryne: I look for joy in all the dark places, Archie.
I think Archie quite likes the thought of the dark places.
Don’t we all!