british actress Keira Knightley rose to prominence in the 2000s, but reached all-new heights when she appeared in the 2005 Jane Austen adaptation Pride and Prejudice. Not even two years later, she appeared in another book adaptation: Atonement. Knightley had made his mark by appearing in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as Elizabeth Swann, but before that she was only known in the UK for some of her previous roles. She catapulted herself even further into international stardom with Atonement and Pride and Prejudice and quickly became known for her romantic period dramas, which only got better when she appeared in the 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina.
Although Knightley has had a prolific career so far, there’s something she’s become known for in her movies: the clothes she wears. Whether on Pinterest or Tumblr, audiences have absolutely adored some of the costumes that appear in Knightley’s films, making her an accidental icon and fashion and lifestyle trailblazer. Here are some of his best costumes in movies so far.
4 Atonement – The Fountain Scene
In Atonement, the fountain scene where Robbie and Celia fight over the vase is pivotal, because it plants in young Briony’s mind that something bad is going on between them. There’s also something special about this scene: her use of the costume on Knightley. She is, for the first few moments, dressed in a floral blouse and blocked skirt, mixing patterns along a more subdued color palette. This is not common in the 1930s when this film is set, as it would be rare to mix two stronger designs like those on her blouse and skirt. It is also during this scene that Celia jumps into the fountain to retrieve the parts of the vase that had sunk to the bottom, leaving her naked in her underwear in front of her love. It is then, at this time, that Celia is portrayed as a woman and not as a girl.
3 Anna Karenina – The black ball gown
Anna Karenina is considered one of Tolstoy’s masterpieces and a jewel in the crown of Russian literature. So while the 2012 film adaptation might not be the best representation of what the book has to offer, it still manages to be visually captivating. Since many of his characters are aristocrats and some of the wealthiest individuals Russian society has to offer, it’s no surprise that the costumes are opulent. The black ball gown Knightley wears in a significant scene is just one example of many: it’s a work of art. Many costumes are not historically accurate in this film, and this is one of them. According to The New York Times, the costume designer drew inspiration from 1950s haute couture, particularly Balenciaga and Dior, to create the bodice and used Chanel jewelry to accessorize the character.
2 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End — Pirate King
Elizabeth Swann, Knightley’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, has had many great fashion moments, but her wardrobe in At the end of the world wins the award for her best fashion moments on the show. She wears a long black coat with gold embroidered trim, which may not be the ideal garment to wear in a tropical setting, but certainly makes her look like someone in charge. Complete with a corset, adding a more feminine touch to a largely masculine outfit, everything about her outfit establishes who she is, how she ranks in the pirate hierarchy, and that she’s not someone you hang out with. should be playing casually right now. It’s a fitting transformation to complete his character arc throughout the series. She is no longer an aristocrat, but belongs to the domain of piracy and has accepted this part of herself.
1 Atonement – The Green Dress
Knightley’s Green Dress Atonement is one of her most iconic looks so far in the world of cinema. It might even be one of the most iconic looks in a period movie. In 1930s England, a dress like this would be rare, so it wouldn’t be exactly true to the period. Silk, plunging backs and evening gowns were commonplace for 1930s clothing in England, but thinner straps and a plunging neckline would not be considered acceptable during this period. So while the dress isn’t historically accurate for the time period it’s trying to portray, it still looks beautiful and alluring on screen. This serves as an indicator to the viewer, as well as to Robbie, that Celia is no longer a childish Briony and therefore can be considered a woman in her own right – or an object of desire – compared to some of her previous scenes.