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Keira Knightley is The Duchess

The Dutchess DVD debuts, and SheKnows has been given an inside look at the sketches of costume designer Michael O’Connor — drawings that produced jaw-droppingly gorgeous dresses on The Duchess star Keira Knightley.

The Duchess begins with a dream on paper

The royal treatment

The Duchess is the story of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who — even before her 18th birthday — was on her way to marry a Duke.

What begins as every girl’s fantasy becomes a reality that is far more real than any portrayal of the life of a royal lady in the1800s. Knightley is dazzling as Georgiana, who was the fashion icon of her time. Known for taking outlandish risks, without Georgiana, there would be no Sarah Jessica Parker portraying Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City.

The Duchess cast is stellar. Knightley is joined by fellow Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes, who portrays the Duke that Knightley’s Georgiana spends alongside until her dying day.

Actor’s paradise

Another cast standout is Charlotte Rampling, who portrays Knightley’s mother. Rampling, with her steely eyes, is perfect in the role of nineteenth century mother. She is too proud when her daughter is off to marry a royal – a lifetime of work has paid off. But also, she is keenly aware that the life ahead for her daughter is one fraught with the realities of maintaining a regal marriage.

Georgiana embraced her inner Duchess and proceeded to become a national sensation.

Fashion icon

The London papers wrote about her parties, the guest lists and most importantly, what she was wearing. For costumer Michael O’Connor, the challenge was to capture originality within the framework of costumes that audiences would still immediately identify of that era.

O’Connor’s impeccable ability to take his vision from the pages you see here to the screen should come Oscar time result in the fashion magician’s receiving a nomination. 

Keira's look in its initial stages

Wardrobe wizardry

Keep in mind, Knightley was only one of a cast of dozens that O’Connor had to dress.The wardrobe of Fiennes’ Duke also plays a role in his persona, and thus Fiennes performance.

Witnessing the male and female costumes throughout The Duchess DVD is pure delight. Considering O’Connor cut his teeth on projects such as Harry Potter, his success with vastness of scale is no surprise.

On The Duchess DVD, the extras do not disappoint. Particularly, and this should come as no surprise, SheKnows is partial to the Costume Diary that takes the viewer inside the world of Michael O’Connor. The doc illustrates how his sketches flew off the page and onto Knightley and her Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

The story is not for the faint of heart, but The Duchess is still emotionally resonant in that it stays with you for days afterward.

As any film of quality should do, if the viewer is still pondering the film’s themes and storylines, filmmakers and the cast have more than excelled in their assign task.

The Duchess DVD is one royal treasure.

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