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Being set in a fantastical world doesn’t exempt Carnival Row from borrowing from the Victorian period. That means the costumes might get a bit uncomfortable and the corsets unnaturally tight. Perhaps no one understands that better than actress and model Cara Delevingne, who plays Vignette Stonemoss on the Amazon show.
The Amazon series follows Cara Delevingne’s Vignette, who’s at the center of the political turmoil and divide between her people, the fae, and the humans of the Burgue, a London-esque city. She’s a freedom fighter as well as a former librarian, thrown into the middle of the conflict by happenstance, but passionate about fighting for her fellow fae.
In the very first episode of Carnival Row Season 1, Vignette is captured and sent to work as an indentured servant in the home of an elite and wealthy human family. While there, she’s fitted into a corset for the first time, forced to tuck away and hide her wings. For Vignette, corsets signified a change in status and the loss of her freedom as a fae. The resentment and anger is written all over her face, especially as she’s forced to move in the spaces of society that are working to reject her as a being deserving of rights.
In an interview with Net-a-Porter, Cara Delevingne discussed how wearing a corset so often caused her to lose her voice and wondered if men thought up these clothing restrictions for women as a way to keep them from speaking out.
It’s like what women were forced to go through. I had to wear a corset every day, and you lose your voice. I wonder, in the past, did men just sit round thinking, ‘What can we do? A muzzle? Is that a bit obvious? OK, we’ll just wrap something round their waists so they can’t breathe or speak.’
Cara Delevingne felt a connection to Vignette in more ways than one. The model-turned-actress likened the experience of losing her voice while in Vignette’s corset to her not having much of a voice during her years as a supermodel.
As a model, I didn’t really have any self-identity or self-worth. I was just like, ‘Supermodel?’ I was taking so much from myself and giving it to everyone, but I wasn’t making a difference, and I wasn’t giving anything back.
Carnival Row also stars Orlando Bloom (best known for Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings) and it marks the first television roles for both actors. Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne play star-crossed lovers who met during the war between the humans and the fae. Bloom’s Rycroft Philostrate is an inspector investigating the murders of fae across the Burgue, but as he draws closer to the killer, he discovers a few secrets about his past. For Bloom, this was definitely a new kind of role for the actor, darker, and a bit more nuanced than any of the previous characters he’s played.
Carnival Row Season 1 is now streaming on Amazon Prime and has already been renewed for Season 2. Fall TV is right on our doorstep, so stay up to date with our complete guide to when every new and returning show premieres.