The Regime mirrors the current political climate in a fascinating and disturbing way. On the one hand, it’s captivating to witness an empowered, multifaceted female authoritarian figure. The writers’ ability to capture the nuances and intricacies of contemporary political dynamics can be both impressive and thought-provoking. However, the unsettling aspect lies in the realization that these fictional scenarios are not entirely divorced from the truth. 

Image Courtesy of MAX.

Seeing familiar issues, controversies, and power struggles play out in this mini-series serves as a stark reminder of the challenges facing society this year, as 2024 will be the year when 64 countries plus the European Union will hold elections, representing 49% of the population of the world making some decision on who to vote for to represent them as their elected official. Is the Regime a comedy of the current political climate or a vivid warning of what can and would happen if we elect figures with the characteristics of Chancellor Elena Vernham?

The Regime was filmed mostly in Austria and the United Kingdom. Image Courtesy of MAX.

The Regime forces viewers to confront uncomfortable truths about the state of politics, raising questions about accountability, integrity, and the potential consequences of unchecked power. 

Ultimately, while it may be engrossing to watch, the reflection of reality in such shows is a sobering reminder of the need for vigilance and active engagement in shaping the future of our political landscape.

In such a complex and fascinating narrative, the clothes play an essential role. In the same way that Captain America uses his vibranium shield to confront villains, Chancellor Elena Vernham wears power dresses to stand up for her points of view, making controversial decisions on behalf of her country, and establishing a strange co-dependent relationship with bodyguard-turned-lover Herbert Zubak (played by Matthias Schoenaerts). Let’s talk about the Political Fashion of Chancellor Elena Vernham.

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The Regime’s communication style

In a fictional country in Central Europe, the Chancellor shows a profound narcissism and eagerness to show off her power and the power of her Regime. With some gaslighting strategies, such as calling the people from her country “my loves” to deliver terrible news, the Chancellor’s day-to-day communication seems to be one-sided with everyone in her cabinet.

Chancellor Elena is a germaphobe, perhaps as a subtle similarity to Vladimir Putin. Image Courtesy of MAX. 

The Chancellor enjoys speaking and wants to be heard, but she doesn’t want people to question her. Like Mexico’s President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who delivers daily morning briefings that can last from 90 minutes to 2 and a half hours, and in substance, there is nothing more than political propaganda. 

Through these speeches, the Chancellor is describing a social context based on her perception, which is very detached from what the people of her country are going through. Her country is being hurt by China taking over their sugar beet industry, but the Chancellor delivers a nationalist speech about how great the government is doing. The country is in serious danger and pain, but its leader is delivering a completely different narrative, like when the former President downplayed the coronavirus pandemic in the first three weeks of 2020, resulting in 1.1 million deaths due to this virus.

The Gender of the Regime

It is a challenging task to imagine how a female authoritarian figure dresses since, throughout history, they have been only men. 

This task unravels a lot of questions and challenges that women in politics face every day. How do we find that middle point between embracing femininity while entering a field that historically has been, and still is, dominated by men? How do you present and introduce yourself as a serious person who must be taken seriously without letting go of your femininity and falling into a “very masculine” look? 

For Vice President Kamala Harris, this middle point is a signature look that consists of a pantsuit, pearls, or a subtle classic piece of jewelry. 

For the former governor of South Carolina and former presidential candidate Nikki Haley, this involved embracing classic feminine A-line silhouettes with pleated skirts and heels. 

Our Chancellor Elena Vernham’s clothes had to be tailored and well-fitted. Pencil skirts outline the body, and dresses are so meticulously crafted that they become a second skin. Academy Award-nominated Costume Designer for the Regime Consolata Boyle, who also worked in the costumes for the Iron Lady and the Queen, stated that she researched female politicians of different time periods, regions, and political stands. 

Prime Minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, was an inspiration for the costume design of the Regime. 

Prime Minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, and Former First Lady of Argentina Eva Perón were among the muses that served as a source of inspiration.

Due to the specific social and political context that the Regime demanded, roughly 95% of the costumes had to be specifically made for the actors and actresses, while some basics like lingerie and accessories were thrifted or outsourced. 

The signature looks for the Chancellor involved very body-conscious silhouettes that are very well tailored and accentuate her body. Yes, it is visually attractive and sexy, but it is also empowering. Chancellor Elena is not putting on a suit or adopting any masculine manners in order to serve her role as an authoritarian figure. She uses color and has flattering necklines and tight dresses. She wears her hair as she pleases and walks on stilettos around the palace. 

This rigidness and structure go hand-in-hand with her confidence in walking into the meetings to speak with her cabinet, demanding land reforms. 

The Colors of the Regime

What color is her dress? The cabinet asked during Victory Day. “Green” someone replied as if the color set the mood for the meeting. Image Courtesy of MAX

The Chancellor’s presence in a room is impossible to ignore. It is her strong personality and willingness to do things her way only. It is her particular way of speaking about issues and pivoting the narrative towards ideas that fit her own perception. This strong character with strong points of view required costumes with solid colors that, by being perfectly tailored to her body, create a strong figure in strong colors walking in and out of rooms of the palace. 

Some of the most consistent colors across the six episodes of the mini-series are shades of blue, red, and green. These are not unfamiliar colors in female political figures here in the real world. With the right shades, these colors create a splendid contrast and are extremely flattering. (Kate Winslet’s pale and warm skin creates harmony with emerald greens and warm blues). 

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The civil war explodes with the Chancellor wearing a red taffeta dress with three-quarter sleeves and styled with knee-high black leather boots. Almost as a metaphor for the current state of the country, this explosive color is what the Chancellor wears when she has to escape from the palace, run through the tunnels, get arrested, interrogated, and then kidnapped one more time. 

The clothes in the Regime helped bring to life a country that does not exist, with a political leader who doesn’t exist and does not look like any current political figures (although figures from the 20th and 21st centuries inspire the character itself).

Image Courtesy of MAX

Will Tracy, the show’s creator and co-writer, read 20 books about autocracies, authoritarian leaders, and totalitarian states to develop the six episodes. 

The Regime was a very successful, highly-rated show that was dramatic, comical, disturbingly accurate, and warmingly entertaining, and we could not speak about the Regime in Political Fashion. Hoping truthfully, these stories will be limited to staying on the small screens this 2024.

Yes? Good. Image Courtesy of MAX