In Modern Terms: Du Maurier’s Rebecca, a Style Icon

Rebecca had it all. She was tall, thin and beautiful, had more money than she could spend, a dream stately home and the respect and admiration of her peers. In Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier created a woman who wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of Vogue.

The novel’s title character is only present via her clothes and the memories of her contemporaries. The nameless narrator, Mrs de Winter, spends most of the story scared of her husband’s deceased first wife, imagining what she must have been via the clothes she finds in her wardrobe. Rebecca’s ghost is never more present than in her room, which Maximilian de Winter consciously abandons but which his second wife can’t help creeping into. Everything, down to “a satin gown on a chair, and a pair of bedroom slippers beneath” is as Rebecca left it, the house ready to welcome back its mistress. Where Mrs de Winter wears “an ill-fitting coat and skirt and a jumper of [her] own creation,” Rebecca’s wardrobe is full of evening gowns in silver, gold brocade and soft, wine-coloured velvet.

Continue reading