POOR THINGS – Costume Designer Explains How Bella’s Wardrobe Mirrors Her Journey In The Film

Holly Waddington, Costume Designer of Poor Things explains how Bella’s clothes grow with her throughout the story in a press-conference interview. 
Poor Things, Emma Stone

Poor Things costume designer Holly Waddington explained their fascinating approach to crafting outfits for Emma Stone’s character in a recent interview with the press. 

Director Yorgos Lanthimos worked closely with Holly Waddington on his latest project, Poor Things. Together, they created a variety of looks that best suited Emma Stone’s character, Bella Baxter. Bella is the scientific experiment of a mad scientist, and she has a childish mind at the beginning of the movie. But she is not a normal woman, and her mind, body, and soul go on a transformative and evolutionary journey throughout this arthouse drama film. 


Poor Things, Emma Stone

In a recent press conference, Holly Waddington explained how she designed Bella’s costumes in a way that would match her growth on screen. 

“At the beginning of the film, she’s wearing fabrics that you might associate with children. [Bella] wears quilting, the clothes are pale and quite child-like. They’re not intentionally baby-clothes but they do have connotations of children. Then once she leaves home and goes to Lisbon the clothes are quite sheer. I definitely sought out things that were sheer and that showed her body. The color palette gets a little bit more complex as we go through the story. They start off being sugary and technicolor and quite sort of pastel and they become a little bit more complicated and more grownup.

Everything gets more grownup and then by the time we get to when she becomes a student, that’s when we arrive at structured wool, black wool. She is a beacon and she’s impossible to ignore and that black hair definitely allowed for the use of some very bold colors that I might not have used otherwise.”

-Holly Waddington, Costume Designer of Poor Things 

It is this level of attention to detail that earns dozens of awards and nominations. Bella Baxter has a strange and beautiful look accentuated by the wide variety of dresses and other pieces that she wears. The extra puffy sleeves, Victorian styling, and jet-black hair complement each other in a sophisticated but dramatic fashion. Emma Stone’s performance as Bella and the unforgettable costume design are two elements that are receiving particularly high levels of praise.

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The visual design of Poor Things is one of the most striking elements of the film. Bright, surreal colors bring this film to life. The trailer is very eye-popping, although it does not reveal much about the plot. Poor Things was released on Dec. 8, 2023, and on Jan. 12, 2024, in the United Kingdom and Ireland. If you haven’t seen the film and want to stay spoiler-free, this is your official spoiler warning.


Mark Ruffalo, Emma Stone, Poor Things

Emma Stone leads an all-star cast of actors including Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo in this tragic story about evolution and escape. Bella Baxter was a pregnant woman who committed suicide. Willem Dafoe plays Dr. Godwin Baxter, a disfigured scientist who saves the woman’s life by transplanting the brain of her unborn child. Bella grows at an accelerated rate and leaves her life with the Doctor behind.

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She goes on a cruise with Mark Ruffalo’s character, a man named Duncan. Together they make love and get up to all manner of mischief. Eventually, Bella moves on from Duncan and comes face to face with her past – her life before becoming Bella Baxter. Bella evolves in so many ways throughout Poor Things, and Holly Waddington makes sure that her choice of attire reflects that.

About Poor Things

Poor Things, Emma Stone

Directed By: Yorgos Lanthimos

Written By: Tony McNamara

Based on: The 1992 Novel – Poor Things: Episodes from the Early Life of Archibald McCandless M.D., Scottish Public Health Officer by Alasdair Gray

Starring: Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, and Christopher Abbott

Synopsis: The incredible tale about the fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter; a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist, Dr. Godwin Baxter.

What do you think of Bella’s costume design in Poor Things? Let us know your thoughts on social media, and thanks for reading. We are always watching.



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Corbin Shanklin

CJ Shanklin is a journalist. They have been writing & reporting in the entertainment industry for four years, but their best work is still ahead of them. Stay tuned for more stories for the fans, penned by a fan.