Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Stunning, Sustainable Sweaters of ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’


It’s a work of fiction, but The Banshees of Inisherin will have a very real impact on your sweater envy.

Poised to nab several Oscars, the film Banshees of Inisherin, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, is being hailed as a masterpiece. The Martin McDonaugh dark comedy, set in 1923 rural Ireland, explores themes of family, tradition, and grief. But it’s not just the film’s story and performances that have received critical acclaim; the movie’s costume design, especially its knitwear, has also garnered a significant amount of attention — and for good reason.

The film’s early 20th-century setting pays homage to the era’s organically sustainable styles — handmade, natural materials and designs that emphasize function and durability.

The Banshees of Inisherin is a sweater lover’s dream | Courtesy 20th Century Fox

The film’s costume designer, Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, says she drew inspiration from the landscapes and textures of Ireland, as well as traditional Irish clothing styles.

Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh worked with 83-year-old Irish knitter Delia Barry to create custom knitwear pieces. Barry said she studies 100-year-old photographs for inspiration.

“We were really lucky to be able to make all the costumes for the principal characters,” Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh told the New York Times. “Not just the knitwear, but the tailoring, the hats.”

“There was a lot of work to finish everything and give the costumes a sense of having been lived in. That was crucial. So the dyeing and ageing processes were uniquely important in this film,” Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh told Esquire.

Colin Farrell wears a blue sweater in 'Banshees of Inisherin'
Colin Farrell wears a blue sweater in ‘Banshees of Inisherin’ | Courtesy 20th Century Fox

“I tried to use Irish cloth, too. All the shirts are Irish linen,” Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh said. “Colm’s coat was made with wool from Donegal. Siobhan’s yellow coat is an Irish wool and linen mix. The Banshee, Sheila Flitton, her costume is all Irish linen, which was dyed, and the woven trim on her cloak (it looks like a braid that hangs on either side of her head) is actually a ‘crios’ or a belt that is very traditional to the West of Ireland, and we used a lot of these for the men and women. They are usually tied around the waist.”

The use of knitwear in the film is also significant in light of the ongoing interest in sustainable and ethical fashion. Knitwear is often associated with traditional and artisanal production methods, and as a result, it can be a more sustainable and ethical choice compared to fast fashion.

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