Last Chance to See the Original Costumes of ’Poor Things’

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, ‘Poor Things’ is a science fantasy black comedy film released on 12 January 2024. To celebrate the film, Barbican Centre is hosting an exhibition of the costumes worn by Emma Stone, William Dafoe, and Mark Ruffalo.



💃🏻 ‘The Costumes of Poor Things’ exhibition is completely free to visit at Barbican Centre until 26 January 2024 @Barbican Centre #poorthingsmovie #emmastone #williamdafoe #markruffalo #barbicancentre #moviecostumes #poorthings #CapCut

♬ greedy sped up – Tate McRae


Poor Things


Poor Things Movie - Barbican Centre London

Photo: Urban Adventurer



‘Poor Things’ is an adaptation of the novel by Scottish author Alasdair Gray. The film is about a young woman, Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) who, after her death, is brought back to life by her father, Dr Godwin Baxter (William Dafoe), a brilliant scientist.


As Bella’s brain has been replaced with a baby’s, she starts her new life with a mentality of a toddler and has to relearn everything. As the film follows Bella’s experience to gain maturity, her wardrobe reflects her development from a toddler to become an ambitious young lady.



Curated by Costume Designer, Holly Waddington


The Costumes of Poor Things Exhibition at Barbican Centre London

Photo: Urban Adventurer



‘The Costumes of Poor Things’ exhibition was launched on 11 December 2023 and curated by the film’s costume designer Holly Waddington.


When asked how she came up with the specific looks, Waddington said:

“They’re based on taking a Victorian outfit with all its components, and then stripping quite a few away. We had a lot of fun playing with that language, of how dressed or undressed she would be. Think of a five-year-old dressing up in her mum’s clothes, that messy quality.”


The costumes were set to follow the process of Bella’s mental development from a baby to a sexually awaken young lady. Bella becomes a confident and independent woman and her clothes needed to reflect that.


At the beginning, Bella wears ruffled baby-doll dresses, Victorian bloomers, and puff-sleeved tops.


Barbican Centre London - The Costumes of Poor Things

Photo: Urban Adventurer



As she is evolving and becomes more mature, her wardrobe is changing with her.


“They’re very sensual. There’s lots of fabrics that are silky and light and airy, that was about creating this sense of the organic. She’s an unruly, living, breathing creation.” – Waddington explains.


“I was gathering references of things that live under the sea, strange creatures, looking at the tactile surfaces of organisms; giving this sense of everything breathing and living.” – she added.


As for William Dafoe’s costumes, who plays Bella’s father Dr Godwin Baxter, Waddington got inspiration from the book’s author’s (Alasdair Gray) own style.


“We put in a bit of a Rodchenko/Russian Constructivism as well because Baxter’s super Utilitarian.” – Waddington explained, adding that despite of being a bit problematic, she really likes Dr Baxter’s character and his worldview.


Read the full interview here.


Last Chance to Visit the Exhibition


The Costumes of Poor Things at Barbican Centre London

Photo: Urban Adventurer



 The exhibition is completely free to visit (no booking required) and ends on 26 January 2024.



Level G, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS


Opening Hours

9:30am – 11pm Monday to Sunday





Ready for your next adventure? British Library’s new exhibition: ‘Fantasy: Realms of Imagination’ invites you for an epic journey to enchanted lands and mythical creatures. The exhibition explores the origin of today’s popular fantastical stories and how antient stories and legendary creatures are still woven into our lives through books, movies, TV series and video games.