All of Anya Taylor-Joy’s Chess-Themed Costumes in “The Queen’s Gambit”

Posted on October 26, 2020

We hope by now you’ve caught at least a few episodes of The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. If you need some convincing, check out our review of the series, which we called one of our favorite watches of the year. There are a lot of reasons to watch, not least being Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance or the refreshing avoidance of so many cliches and tropes, but we, being the shallow types we are, simply could not get over the gorgeously on-point mid-sixties costumes provided by costume designer Gabriele Binder. It wasn’t until we were about halfway through the series, however, when we realized Binder was deploying some subtle (and occasionally not subtle at all) chess motifs in Taylor-Joy’s character Beth Harmon, a rising champion on her way to becoming a grand master. She did this in various ways: by dressing her in black-and-white (or black and beige) or by utilizing plaids and checks that evoke chess boards. Sometimes the motifs were obvious and sometimes they were so discreet that it took a close watch to even find them (note the checkerboard buttons at the shoulders on the white dress below).

 

 

Now, you can look at this in two different ways. Either Binder was having some fun and making a subtle connection between character and character trait in order for the audience to subconsciously see them as completely intertwined or Binder was telling you that Beth Harmon is so obsessed with chess that she deliberately dresses herself in these sorts of motifs to signal her standing as a champion in this world. Given how much she lives for chess, how eerily sharp and intelligent she is and how much she clearly loves fashion, we tend to think Beth dresses like this deliberately, knowing full well that she’s sending a message about herself. After all, she didn’t just dress this way for tournaments. Her obsession ruled every part of her life, including her own personal style. Just great, savvy costume design that works on both a subtle level and an extremely obvious one. All while making her look fabulous, of course.

 

 

[Photo Credit: Netflix – Stills: Netflix via Tom and Lorenzo ]

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