House of Cards: Bold and Blue-tiful

House of Cards: Bold and Blue-tiful

Robin Wright’s wardrobe in the latest season of House of Cards is tall, dark and handsome

From a svelte, enviably toned, sophisticated and skeptical aspiring first lady to a grim, (still enviably toned) and seething with inner rage actual First Lady and then Potus—President of the United States, Robin Wright as Claire Underwood in Season 6 of House of Cards is as engrossing a study in anger as she in tailored wool-jersey. But even as the black and grey tale of political schadenfreude, power, ambition and human disregard unravels, true to its original script, what stands out among some impactful performances in Season 6 of the popular television is Claire Underwood’s wardrobe.

Its Presidential blue tones and lux-functional materials, the large gold buttons that many a fashion critic have linked to military decoration befitting of a commander in chief, the sleek maroon trims that talk feminism more than femininity, the high necked dress suits, Prez style cuff links and the impeccable tailoring, bespoke to a fault. So sharply cut, that they would slice through the history of American film and TV couture to make a mark.

And oh, femininity is not dead of course; Wright wears dagger thin and precariously tall red-soled Louboutin heels. Weapons. Not of peace.

Wright as President Underwood who goes back to her maiden name of Claire Hale as the story startles and spirals on is not able to tune up the visceral wickedness that actor Kevin Spacey as President Francis Underwood spooled into his role. Dropped from the series after charges of sexual abuse against him came up last year, the newest season of House of Cards is as dark in plot but it is not dark enough in the way the female prez acts out her horrors—internal and external. In fact, if the finer performances must be counted, Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen as President Viktor Petrov of Russia is among the top.


Photo: Houseofcards/Instagram

What stands out among impactful performances in Season 6 of the series is Claire Underwood’s wardrobe.


All the same, no narrative is just about flesh and blood instincts or acting talent. Characters wear what makes them who they are or who they have set out to become. In keeping, in Season 6, few things distract and attract as Wright in the Kemal Harris styled wardrobe of Presidential blues and charcoal blacks. (Jessica Wenger is the head costume designer of the entire series).

Stunningly well-fitted (Harris told New York Post that the garments were tailored to a mannequin built to Wright’s measurements), regal and serious, steely without looking masculine or fluidly androgynous, it is a delight to watch.

President Hale moves from burgundy and olive greens and her many white shirts (of previous seasons) to buttoned-up dress suits, form fitted navy blue dresses, collars that set a grim line of distance between her and the rest and satin jammies thrown in when she reclines to chart her next devilish course.

She has been more Ralph Lauren than Armani even in the previous seasons and even when she wore Michael Kors in Seasons 2 and 3, the choices were understated. Here she is stately Armani couture. Even Armani Luxury Corporate if you get the idea?

No teal or red suits, no lavender blouses, no baubles or trinkets. A sleek bob is all there is. Thank  you President Angela Merkel, but no string of pearls as inspiration. And thank you Prime Minister Theresa May—no super chunky necklaces for Prez Hale.


Photo: Screen grab from House of Cards’ Facebook page

The garments were tailored to a mannequin built to Wright’s measurements.


Early this month, on the day Season 6 of House of Cards went live, New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman wrote about the “unexpected absence of the handbag” in Wright’s wardrobe. The Commander in Chief may be carrying the burden of the most difficult decisions of the free world but she doesn’t stuff them into a visible logo bag.

Writing this from India on the day the former US First Lady Michelle Obama’s (another gorgeous dresser) memoir Becoming is set for release, it’s a full circle in dress observations to remember that Obama didn’t carry a bag either.

Women who matter don’t carry bags.

They have enough baggage to worry about.

The point is if we will see Claire Hale Underwood’s costumes for House of Cards displayed in a travelling exhibit on First Ladies in Fiction? Will they inspire a theme perhaps at a Met Gala in the next couple of years?

Till that happens (or doesn’t), here is a working title for a fashion film. First Female Prez of the US: Tall, Dark and Handsome.–1748