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Gloriavale inspired Handmaid's costumes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/05/2017
The Handmaid's Tale © Reuters / Brian Snyder The Handmaid's Tale

New Zealand's secretive Christian community Gloriavale has been listed as an inspiration for the costume design in the on-screen adaption of Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.

In an interview with entertainment website, Jezebel, Los Angeles costume designer Ane Crabtree said she researched religious groups and cults for inspiration and came across Gloriavale, on the West Coast.

"They have a very old-world culture, much like Gilead, where women are baking bread and children are dressed quite close to the women of the group.

"It's so scary to me to see children dressed the same way as the Handmaids; the colour's not the same but the silhouettes are. That kind of scary-creepy, it creeps into my work a lot."

The handmaids in the TV show are dressed in red cloaks and white bonnets, not dissimilar to the uniforms at Gloriavale, and are forced to submit to doctrine and are beaten if they disobey.

Atwood's Man Booker-winning 1985 novel focuses on the lives of women in a near-future United States where the government has been overthrown and replaced by a religious, authoritarian state.

The handmaids are one class of women who are kept for reproductive purposes by the ruling class due increased sterility from pollution and sexually transmitted diseases.

Gloriavale, near Greymouth, was founded in the 1960s by Australian-born evangelical preacher Neville Cooper, known as Hopeful Christian.

The community has more than 500 members, including 55 families.

It has been subject to Charities Services investigation and a police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by former members.

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