In a somewhat unsurprising move, Keira Knightley’s next project is going to be a period drama.
Over her career, the 35-year-old actor has made a name for herself in period roles, from Pride & Prejudice to Anna Karenina. Now, Knightley is set to star in The Essex Serpent, based on Sarah Perry’s 2016 book.
In the new series, Knightley will play the widowed Cora, who moves from Victorian London to an Essex village to find out more about a mythical creature in the area. It will no doubt be full of drama and spectacular dresses – both hallmarks of Knightley’s work.
As we wait for The Essex Serpent, here are some of her best period drama outfits to date.
Pirates of the Caribbean
In 2003, Knightley played Elizabeth Swann in the first Pirates Of The Caribbean movie. While she spends most of it in swoon-worthy 18th-century dresses with tight bodices and big skirts, our favorite outfits come in the later movies when she starts dressing like a true pirate on the high seas – leather vest and all.
Pride & Prejudice
As far as period dramas go, it doesn’t get more classic than an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice. Knightley played Elizabeth Bennet in 2005, in costumes designed by Jacqueline Durran.
Durran talked to People.com about the inspiration behind the outfits: “I thought about how a local dressmaker would’ve made something, the fabrics she would’ve had, drawings of fashions from London, and how she would’ve translated that – and what a provincial family would do with their clothes.” The result is romantic dresses in earthy tones.
Although every outfit in Atonement is standout, it’s the green silk dress with a low back that has gone down in movie history. Durran is responsible for this one too.
The adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel is set before and during World War II and sees Knightley’s character, Cecilia, wear the dress in a pivotal moment. It’s ethereally beautiful and has been copied countless times, despite the heartbreak associated with it.
The Duchess won the Academy Award for Costume Design, and for good reason. Keira Knightley plays Georgiana Cavendish, who marries the Duke of Devonshire, played by Ralph Fiennes. The Georgian-era dresses are beautifully structured and Knightley is rarely without a towering wig or feathered headdress. Costume designer Michael O’Connor created looks for Georgiana that range from ultra-feminine for her wedding day, to more masculine hats for a public rally.
Everything about the 2012 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is sumptuous, especially Knightley’s outfits as the titular character. Huge dresses with full skirts are completed by architectural hats and veils – once again courtesy of Durran, who said she set out to mix bold 1870s silhouettes with structural elements of 1950s couture.
In 2018’s Colette, Knightley plays the real-life French writer struggling to gain ownership of her own work at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Costume designer Andrea Flesch put together over 50 outfits for Knightley’s character, closely considering every aspect.
Flesch told Variety: “What’s special in her character is that she always finds her way to be unique and modern. I feel her wardrobe reflects her independent, sensitive, pure personality, which breaks through the strict rules of fashion at the turn of the century.”