Tilda Swinton as Orlando in 'Orlando' Designed by Sandy Powell


Eighteenth century gown, ivory silk or (poly) with ivory cording detail throughout, bodice has a square neckline ornamented with self ruche ruffle, front closure and satin ruffle at front, fitted sleeves have large cuffs with sheer fabric ornamented in foliate motif with silver thread embroidery, draping from shoulders that become part of the dress; ivory cotton underskirt with ruche ruffles and front panel that matches the gown that attaches to underskirt with satin bows; white muslin corset; an extremely wide pannier; quilted underskirt.




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Additional Notes

The small budget film, “Orlando,” not only brought director Sally Potter international recognition, it propelled actress Tilda Swinton into a field of respected lead actresses. The film, which is an adaption of a 1928 Virginia Woolf novel involves a 16th Century nobleman who lives for three centuries and in the process, changes into a woman, thus changing how she relates to the world. It was originally planned to hire a separate male and female actor to play the parts, but Tilda’s non-conforming gender bending style worked perfectly for the role.

Costume designer, Sandy Powell, created sumptuous clothing that spanned the timeframe from Elizabethan England to modern day and the lavishness of the costumes certainly betray the tight budget that she was under. She received the first of her numerous Nominations for Best Costume Design for her work on this film.

This particular dress is fairly accurate to period and meant to convey the how ridiculous the size was trying to maneuver through the covered furniture and possibly indicating that women, to a big part, were considered little more than furniture.



“Tilda Swinton as Orlando in 'Orlando' Designed by Sandy Powell,” Film Costume Collection, accessed May 18, 2024, https://filmcostumecollection.omeka.net/items/show/1410.

Item Relations

Item: Images of Tilda Swinton in 'Orlando' Still images from film This Item