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Movie Inspiration: Fashion Inspired by Les Misérables

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Les mis header
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Every obsession must begin somewhere. With my love for musicals, that moment came at the tender age of 6, when a visiting relative accidentally left a cast recording of Les Misérables at my house. Though the sweeping themes of redemption, love, justice, freedom, and morality went right over my little head, I was smitten.

Sixteen years later, my adoration of the play has only grown. When the film adaptation of the Broadway musical was first announced, I couldn’t decide whether I was thrilled or scandalized by the notion. However, the adaptation – in theaters now – definitely didn’t disappoint! (Although I have to say that, compared to the stage version, it’s a much more sobering experience to see scenes of horrific poverty, desperation, and violence played out in graphic realism.)

Note: we’ve previously covered fashion inspired by the stage version of Les Misérables in the Stage Inspiration series, but this post will focus on the 2012 movie adaptation.

Will You Join In our Crusade? : About Les Misérables

  • Les Misérables is based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel by the same name. The story begins in 1815 and culminates with the June Rebellion of 1832.
  • Our protagonist, Jean Valjean, is a convict who once stole a loaf of bread and has since labored in prison for 19 years.When he is finally granted parole, he finds himself lost in a society that rejects him. After a life-altering encounter with a saintly bishop, Valjean decides to break parole and reform himself as an honest man.
  • Despite pursuit from the justice-obsessed Inspector Javert, Valjean becomes a successful businessman, factory owner, and eventually the philanthropic mayor of a small town. His past catches up to him, though, and he is again forced to go on the run.
  • Eight years later, a group of young, idealistic students led by Enjolras seek to rebel against the monarchy and relieve the oppression of the poor.
  • The musical Les Misérables (often called Les Mis or Les Miz), was written by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel, and Herbert Kretzmer and opened in 1985 in the West End. Despite initial negative reviews, the musical has gone on to become a global sensation: Les Mis is the fourth-longest running Broadway musical ever and has won 8 Tony Awards.
  • The new film adaptation is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Eddie Redmayne as Marius, Samantha Barks as Éponine, Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier, and Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier.

Outfits Inspired by Les Misérables: The Movie

Tomorrow is another day..tomorrow is the judgment day, so you’d better make sure you look your best! (But hey, if you’re reading this, you survived the Mayan Apocalypse. Well done, you!)  Read on for four outfits inspired by the Les Misérables film.

Who Am I/The Confrontation/Stars

Javert valjean header
Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

Jean Valjean is an ex-convict who has turned his life around and made a successful and honest career for himself. However, he had to break parole and change identities in order to escape the stigma of his prison past. Inspector Javert, the antagonist of Les Misérables, isn’t really a villain — he has a rigid sense of justice and a belief that evil is an inherent, immutable trait, but his intent is noble. To him, Jean Valjean will always be Prisoner 24601.

The two men play a constant game of cat-and-mouse throughout the story, with Valjean trying to convince Javert of his reformed nature and Javert unable to accept this change.

Valjean javert
Product Information: Coat, Blazer, Top, Pants, Boots, Bracelet, Earrings, Bag

Take inspiration from the two main characters of Les Mis with this updated menswear look. A cape-trench hybrid is trendy but still totally wearable. Wear it over a schoolboy blazer and slouchy chinos, and make sure to add feminine details like an embellished blouse.

Delicate jewelry complements the boyish ensemble: a pair of pavé star earrings references Javert’s song (and my personal favorite) “Stars”, while a handcuff bracelet recalls Valjean’s past. Sling a messenger bag over your shoulder as you travel onwards on that never-ending road to Calvary.

At The End of The Day/I Dreamed a Dream

At the end
Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

Fantine, played by Anne Hathaway, is a young woman whose life has been met with tragedy at every turn. She fell in love with a man who promised her a future together, but her dreams were shattered when he abandoned her after a summer. Though she was left pregnant and alone, Fantine manages to find a job in Valjean’s factory so she can provide for her young daughter, Cosette, whom she had entrusted to an innkeeper and his wife while she worked.

Unfortunately for Fantine, the innkeeper Thénardier is a manipulative extortionist who neglects Cosette and swindles Fantine out of her meager savings. In another stroke of misfortune, the other factory girls turn on Fantine and she loses her job. Completely destitute, Fantine turns to a life of prostitution, desperate for a source of income she can continue sending to ensure her daughter’s well-being. When Valjean discovers her situation, he promises the dying woman that he will retrieve Cosette and raise her as his own child.

Fantine
Product Information: Cardigan, Blouse, Skirt, Boots, Locket, Scarf, Ring

This look is based on Fantine’s attire during better times: the color scheme echoes that of her factory uniform. A simple pink blouse complements a dusty blue midi skirt, while a a cozy shawl cardigan and navy knit scarf will keep you warm. Sturdy desert boots are comfy but chic.

Accessorize with a pretty teal locket that alludes to the last material possession Fantine sells. Finally, a tiger ring references a line in her famous “I Dreamed A Dream” solo.

In My Life/A Heart Full of Love

In my life
Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

When Valjean first adopts Cosette, she is a raggedy, starving waif forced to work as a slave in Thénardier’s inn. Despite her difficult childhood, she grows up to become a happy, hopeful young woman in the convent where Valjean finds work as a gardener. It’s a comfortable, peaceful life, but Cosette sometimes yearns for more: to experience the outside world, to know more about her mysterious past.

When Marius Pontmercy, a young student, catches a glimpse of Cosette, he instantly falls in love with her. Ever-protective of his daughter , Valjean becomes anxious at this development and initially wishes to leave Paris. However, he recognizes the bond between the two lovers and soon becomes Marius’s quiet protector.

In My Life/A Heart Full of Love - Cosette from Les Misérables
In My Life/A Heart Full of Love by collegefashion featuring fat face

Product Information: Coat, Cardigan, Dress, Tights, Shoes, Scarf, Ring, Earrings

Get Cosette’s pretty look with feminine pieces like this embroidered, baby pink frock and ruffled cardigan. Next, slip on a girly pink coat that’s a little reminiscent of Cosette’s voluminous gowns. Keep the outfit from being too frou-frou by adding some darker-colored accessories, like dusty purple tights and jet-black slippers.

Now on to accessories: a floral scarf in a navy hue serves as a nice contrast to all that pink, while a castle-shaped ring alludes to young Cosette’s song, “Castle On A Cloud.”

Red and Black/Do You Hear the People Sing?

Red black
Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

The Friends of the ABC are led by Enjolras, a charismatic student who is utterly devoted to his cause. Despite a lack of military experience, the revolutionaries build a barricade in an effort to stop the National Guard.

In the stirring, iconic song, “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, Enjolras compels the other students and the Parisian populace to take up arms and to fight for their freedom. Idealism alone cannot stop an army, though, and the majority of the revolutionaries and their poverty-stricken allies become martyrs.

Do you hear the people sing outfit
Product Information: Coat, Jacket, Dress, Boots, Hat, Ring | Hair photo: ELLE

As the song “Red and Black” implies, the Friends of the ABC have taken these on as their cause’s representative colors. Luckily for you, the two hues happen to be a totally classic pairing perfect for winter. Let an eye-catching crimson dress like this embellished, fit-and flare frock take center stage. Other red accessories would detract from its impact, so add black and gray pieces like a tweedy charcoal cardigan and military-inspired black coat.

Start accessorizing with a jaunty fedora and comfortable ankle boots. A ring with an inspirational message adds some metallic gleam and echoes the dress’s embellishment, while paying tribute to the revolutionaries’ devotion to their cause. If you’re worried about hat hair, French braid your locks (get it? A French braid for a French story? Such a nuanced sense of humor…): even if the hat musses the braid a little, it’ll look intentional.

A Little Fall of Rain/Empty Chairs At Empty Tables

Empty chairs
Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

Marius Pontmercy is a young student and revolutionary who falls in love with Valjean’s daughter. He is good friends with Éponine, who happens to be the elder daughter of the Thénardiers. Although Éponine is herself in love with Marius, she agrees to serve as a messenger between him and Cosette, who is not permitted to leave the convent.

Fall of rain
Product Information: Coat, Blouse, Vest, Jeans, Shoes, Scarf, Necklace, Hat

Marius wears a simple but striking ensemble of a white shirt, patterned vest, and navy trousers, though he also frequently dons a necktie and the red, white, and blue rosette of the revolutionaries. Éponine, whose family lives in utter poverty, wears a ragged green dress and trench coat.

Take inspiration from both characters with a casual outfit that would be great for a stroll along the Seine (or campus).  Start with the ever-trusty white-blouse-and-dark-wash-jeans combination, then amp up the look with a taupe knit vest and tasseled loafers. A chic navy and emerald plaid coat will keep you warm, even if you get caught in a little fall of rain while outdoors. Finally, top off the look with a knit cap, chair-shaped charm necklace, and a patriotic scarf.

What do you think?

Would you wear these outfits? Have you guys seen the film yet? If so, what did you think? Somewhere beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see? (Yep, Gallifrey.) Are there any other musicals or movies that you’d like to see featured here on CF? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on on December 30, 2012 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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34 Responses to “Movie Inspiration: Fashion Inspired by Les Misérables”

  1. 1
    December 30th, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    This is a great article. I love this musical and the movie was great. These outfits are lovely and totally exemplify the fashion of the film.
    I just had to mention–you talked about Enjolras but didn’t mention the guy who played him in the movie: Aaron Tveit. He’s a brilliant actor and I feel like he deserves a mention in the article.
    Love this column. Nice work!

  2. 2
    December 30th, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I love all the looks you’ve put together, but I’m surprised you didn’t include Eponine for inspiration. I thought both her costumes (the belted dress and her disguise as a man) looked great on screen. Her solo On My Own is beautiful and makes her a wonderfully tragic figure. Samantha Barks, who played her in the movie version, does a great job. Love the post!

  3. 3
    December 30th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I literally screamed when I saw the title. SUCH a huge fan of the musical and I saw the movie yesterday. I wish that you had included Eponine, but the rest of the outfits are perfect!

  4. 4
    December 30th, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Elizabeth-check out CF’s post on the Les Mis stage fashion. Eponine is included, and the whole thing is amazing.

  5. 5
    December 30th, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Awesome article! but seriously, how could you forget master of the house? That’s one of the best scenes in all of movie-musical history!! But great article nonetheless ;)

  6. 6
    December 30th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    This is such a great post! I too have been in love with Les Mis (and Enjolras) since a tender age… You did a great job! And I was excited to see I own a few pieces listed… Guess I was inspired without even know it. :)

  7. 7
    December 30th, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    This is one of my favorite stage musicals of all time. It was so exciting to watch it come to life. :) Great article, thank you.

  8. 8
    December 30th, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Just THINKING about the musical makes me tear up! It’s such a beautiful story and I’ve always loved the book, it’s something special between me & my grandmother.

    I cannot WAIT to see the movie, I’m not sure how I feel about Anne Hathaway as Fantine but maybe I will fall in love! I’m thinking of going a little Eponine-esque to watch it – she is my favorite character :) This was such a great post, thank you

  9. 9
    December 30th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I fell in love with Les Mis at age 5 too!!!!! My cousins were in it -twice in one year- when I was 5 and I got a VHS of their play and watched it so much it broke. yeah, i was a little obsessed. i loooved the movie, even though there were parts that were kinda iffy. i think these outiftis really translated the costumes perfectly and i’m planning on wearing a few variations of these soon!! you should make a les mis movie outfits part 2 with the thenardiers, eponine, and the beggars or something!! haha :)

  10. 10
    December 30th, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Lily, you’re going to love her! Anne as Fantine really is amazing. Her “I Dreamed a Dream” made me cry. My sister never talks at movies, but aloud she said “Wow.” You’re going to love her.

  11. 11
    December 30th, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I love that I came across this just as I finally made plans with my friends to go see it tomorrow! Excellant article for a wonderful movie/musical/book/story in general! I like that these looks are a little more everyday wearable than the ones presented in the article covering the stage version though I love them both.

    On a side note…does anyone know what happened to the stage inspiration articles?…they were here for a while, disappeared, came back for maybe one post and then disappeared again :(

  12. 12
    December 30th, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Awesome article! I loved the movie and would wear all of these outfits.

  13. 13
    December 30th, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    I love Les Mos so Im SO excited to see the film!! I have heard different opinions sbout it but lets hope its good!

  14. 14
    December 30th, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I just saw the movie tonight! It was my first time hearing any of the music but now I know what everyone has been so obsessed with all these years! Love the looks!

  15. 15
    December 31st, 2012 at 8:25 am

    These outfits are brilliant. I am always amazed at how you guys put things together (especially outfits inspired by menswear). I LOVED this movie. It’s like listening to your favorite song for 3 hours, or like sitting in the front, middle seat at a broadway musical. It’s outstanding, and so are these outfits!

  16. 16
    December 31st, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I’ve been in love with the musical for years, and the movie was amazing. I was a little disappointed with the song order changes, as well as the strength of a few leads’ voices (not naming names here though), but their acting was generally good, and it was so beautiful overall. Just like I had hoped it would be. (Plus, I get to see it again with my friends who performed the show with me for school last year!)

    And these looks are perfection. I especially love the first three, and I would definitely wear them. Keep up the amazing work!

  17. 17
    December 31st, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Love Les Mis – and I love the fashion suggestions here. Great post!

  18. 18
    December 31st, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! My favorite by far. I’ve seen this movie three times and have fallen in love with Les Mis all over again. GAAHHH I just love this!!

  19. 19
    January 1st, 2013 at 12:20 am

    it is possible that i am crying now.

  20. 20
    January 1st, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    How does the last outfit even work? It has three different jackets/shirts.

  21. 21
    January 1st, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    LOVED the movie after being a musical fan. Well done with these looks, they reflect the characters very well! How about Phantom of the Opera inspirations??

  22. 22
    January 1st, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    I really like this post. I absolutely adore Les Mis and I was really pleased with the movie. I also just wrote a post about Les Mis fashion inspiration on my own personal blog, it has some of the characters that weren’t included in this one. Check it out!!

  23. 23
    January 1st, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    love. THIS. keep up the good work CF!

  24. 24
    January 5th, 2013 at 6:12 am

    Nice outfits, I love Les Mis! I cry every time I see it on stage or as a movie. But how could you forget to put put Amanda Seyfried’s name in your list of the main characters? :O

  25. 25
    January 23rd, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I LOVE your taste. All of the outfits that you create are lovely and I want to wear them.

  26. 26
    January 24th, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Aw, thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed the post :)

  27. 27
    January 30th, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Great article!! Les Mis is my new favorite movie, and Eddie Redmayne is quite adorable :) I love all of the looks, the inspiration is great!! I just want to say, you mentioned Cosette but did not say that she was played by Amanda Seyfried!! I thought she was amazing in the movie and deserved a mention in this article. Thanks for the ideas! Will definitely be trying these out.

  28. 28
    March 2nd, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Your last Stage Inspiration post was a while ago so I figured I’d ask here– could you do a Stage Inspiration by the show The Drowsy Chaperone? (if you know it of course) it’s one of my favorites but it’s incredibly underrated

  29. 29
    November 1st, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Gallifrey? You’re a les miz AND Doctor Who fan? You, dear sir, are simply amazing. ( by the way, I love the little humorous bits you threw throughout the article)
    I would wear the outfits, they’re absolutely brilliant-I especially like Fantine’s and the main character’s! (I love the accersory allusions :P)
    Oh and did I like the musical? Yes!!The film adaption was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever watched <3 love love love it!

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