Maggie Gyllenhaal’s role in The Honourable Woman may be her best to date—the actress even scored Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations for her outstanding performance in the must-watch British miniseries as Israeli-British heiress Nessa Stein. The show aired on Sundance this past summer and largely flew under the radar, but those of you who missed the complex political thriller and want to check it out are in luck: Netflix started streaming all eight episodes today, Dec. 18.
While Gyllenhaal's acting in the series is incredible, we can't stop obsessing over her character's amazing wardrobe. We caught up with The Honourable Woman’s costume designer, Edward K. Gibbon, who spilled on the process and complicated layers of selecting the star's ensembles for the series.
"Maggie's wardrobe as Nessa Stein encompasses many different experiences. Throughout the show we see her use clothes as armor, as something to keep a distance between herself and the real world," Gibbon tells InStyle. So, it comes as no surprise that Gibbon drew inspiration for Nessa's powerful-meets-glamorous ensembles by looking at strong and inspirational women throughout history—think Queen Elizabeth I and Margaret Thatcher meet high-fashion runway.
He also shared that her clothing is used as a means to convey messages about the character in the series (i.e., her level of power), though the messages are often mixed. "Nessa wants to appear in control at all times and so her clothes present this veneer of coping," Gibbon says. "But beneath the sharp tailoring there is always a layer of silk and lace, so the threat of exposure is never far away." The real reason behind her simple yet luxe ensembles? "Her life is complicated and full of secrets—the last thing she needs to be doing is matching earrings to her outfit, so her clothes are streamlined and elegantly minimal."
And when it came to working with Gyllenhaal, Gibbon assured us it was nothing short of extraordinary. "Maggie was totally involved in the whole process. It was a true collaboration," he says. "For her, as with any incredible actor, the wardrobe is a really important part of creating the character. She has an intuitive understanding of the power of clothes and the meanings behind them, and we spent a long time talking about clothes and the character. She is such an amazing and intelligent person, was engaged and informed from the word go, and she certainly made my job a joy."