Elle Fanning has portrayed Catherine the Great, a highly influential historical figure, on Hulu’s satirical period drama The Great since 2021. The series, loosely inspired by the Russian empress’s life, has received praise from critics and multiple award nominations, including an Emmy nod for Fanning’s portrayal.
One of the most striking aspects of the show is its elaborate costumes, which combine historical accuracy with modern flair. Fanning’s outfits as Catherine often feature corsets, a garment that was popular in the 18th century but also notorious for its discomfort and health risks.
Fanning spoke to Insider about her experience wearing corsets on the show and how she has adapted to them over time.
“It actually does, I will say. It does get more bearable,” Fanning said. “I have gotten used to them now.”
She added that wearing corsets has changed her body shape and posture.
“Your body creepily forms and shifts and it becomes easier,” she said. “Sometimes, yeah, they’re not the most comfortable.”
Fanning also said that she has learned to do various physical activities while wearing corsets, such as running and doing backbends.
“On this show, I can do anything in a corset,” she said.
Fanning has also collaborated with some of the most renowned fashion designers in the industry to create outfits inspired by Catherine’s style. For the 2021 Independent Spirit Awards, where she was nominated for her role in The Great, Fanning wore a custom-made dress by Vivienne Westwood that channeled corseted silhouettes from the 18th century.
The dress featured a satin-coated lilac structure that cinched Fanning’s waist, a draped iridescent skirt, and sleeves and necklaces inspired by Catherine’s love of pearls. Fanning completed the look with metallic gold pumps.
“For the Independent Spirit Awards, Vivienne and Andreas reached out about designing a dress inspired by Catherine the Great’s love of pearls! And we all know no one does a corset like Westwood!! Love you both,” Fanning wrote on Instagram.
Fanning has also embraced retro-chic style for other award shows, such as the 2021 SAG Awards, where she wore a matching Gucci set consisting of a sequined cinched shirt and flare-hem pants. She paired the outfit with neon yellow platforms that added a pop of color.