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The Powerful Meaning Behind the Dresses in Sarah Polley’s ‘Women Talking’

As “Women Talking” costume designer Quita Alfred was prepping for the critically-acclaimed film, she’d often send director Sarah Polley photos she’d come across of the so-called #cottagecore aesthetic.

“It was funny, like, ‘Oh, on page 72 on of Vogue magazine…’ and we laughed because, yes, it’s attractive in many ways, but what it represented to us was so very different,” she says.

The film — based on the 2018 Miriam Toews novel of the same name (and inspired by a true story) — chronicles eight women from two families across three generations, who hold a clandestine meeting in a barn hayloft and, upon the discovery that local women have been repeated victims of horrific crimes committed by the men in their unnamed religious colony (Mennonite in the book), deliberate whether to stay and fight or leave into a world completely foreign to them.