*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
“Nothing appears on screen by accident,” The Handmaid’s Tale costume designer Natalie Bronfman recently admitted when we chatted about the show’s gripping third season.
Having worked on the Hulu series from the beginning, Bronfman has been an integral part of creating the symbolism and stories behind the show’s costumes since season one. Now, as season three comes to a close, she says there’s more nuance to the wardrobe than fans might immediately recognize.
Take, for example, June’s (Elisabeth Moss) ensemble during her fateful visit to Jezebels last week in episode 11. She wears a black cocktail dress with mesh quarter-sleeves and a back cutout paired with patent-leather Christian Louboutin pumps. To us, it simply looked like a chic outfit one might wear to the most debaucherous place in Gilead. But, as Bronfman explained, it was full of meaning.
“It became almost an armor that she went into battle with. We see her mesh sleeves, which are like chainmail. They’re what [High Commander Winslow, played by Christopher Meloni] tries to tear off when he’s attacking her,” she explained, referencing the physical altercation between June and the High Commander that ends in his death.
Bronfman went on to say that the warrior aspect of June’s most recent Jezebels outfit juxtaposed with the Handmaid costume she dons the next day shifts the significance of her red dress. “The next morning when she wakes up, she essentially looks at her closet and puts the red dress on again. But now it holds a different meaning. It’s her disguise as opposed to her uniform.” Why a disguise? Well she did kill an important Gilead official. And although the Jezebels Marthas covered up her crime, you never know what can happen.
All of our talk about Jezebels made us wonder why the sex workers in the bordello aren’t forced to wear uniforms.
Bronfman explained, “Jezebels is where they throw all the forbidden clothing. The bras and panties, the low-cut tops and bodycon dresses got taken away and placed into these bordellos. [These women] are fulfilling the fantasies that [Commanders] have. Everyone has something [they’re into.]”
The Handmaid’s Tale returns with a brand-new episode on Hulu tomorrow, Wednesday, August 7. With only two episodes left in the season, the stakes are higher than ever.