“The Invitation,” a new horror thriller releasing from Sony Pictures on Aug. 26, stars actress Nathalie Emmanuel who goes from playing a troubled creative in New York to an aristocratic lady of the manor in England, with costume changes that get increasingly elaborate along the way.

Emmanuel, best known for her role of Missandei in “Game of Thrones,” plays Evie, a struggling artist who desperately wants a family after the death of her mother. She takes a DNA test and discovers a cousin she never knew she had. When he invites her to a lavish wedding at an English country manor, she falls for the sexy aristocratic lord Walter DeVille, played by Thomas Doherty. At first a dream come true, the situation soon turns into a nightmare of survival as she uncovers twisted secrets in her family’s history and the disturbing intentions behind their generosity.


Costume designer Danielle Knox, who has worked on a wide variety of film genres with stars including Michael Fassbender, Hilary Swank and Richard Gere, says she relished the chance to dress Evie in a creative array of costumes. At the movie’s outset, Evie is a young, hip New York artist who wears a nosepiece and her hair flowing.

“Evie is very much a product of her time,” says Knox. “She’s ethical — conscious about where she gets her clothes — and an artist, so she’s incredibly expressive and everything she wears is very New York with lots of color.”

But when Evie goes to England, she’s dropped into another world. “We’re going back into the past, an era that is her complete opposite,” Knox says. “That’s the introduction of the horror: putting her in a rich, stuffy environment.”

Clothes are very much part of the transition. When she arrives at the manor, Evie is presented with a new wardrobe, so she can fit in with the high society of her new aristocratic relatives. There’s the gold clingy silk gown that she wears to the initial soiree, representing the golden outlook for her new romance and family. She wears a sparkling hairpiece in her tied back hair.


For the major ball scene, Evie wears a gorgeous, bright red one-shouldered gown with feathers that match the elaborate feathered mask. Red is definitely the color of the evening, thanks to some well-used knives. It symbolizes how her fortunes have suddenly about-faced. 


Then, of course, there’s the wedding gown, a more old-fashioned, almost peasant-looking white cotton ensemble — long sleeves with a richly embroidered bodice that gives way to a full skirt. The outfit is topped with a lace veil.


 “The clothes help transport her into this world,” explained producer Emile Gladstone. “These are aspirational, beautiful, Gatsby-like costumes — a gold dress, a red dress — and again, everything that is beautiful is dangerous. These dresses were created by Danielle. It’s pretty extraordinary, what she was able to accomplish.”

Knox also got the chance to dress two female vampires: Viktoria, portrayed by Stephanie Corneliussen, and Lucy, played by Alana Boden. The vampire characters enabled Knox to incorporate different historical fashions into her styles. 

“Vampires are immortal. They live for centuries,” she says. “So, in terms of costume, you can bring in all kinds of different eras. Viktoria is 500 years old, and Lucy was created in the 20s, so we brought in elements of the clothing they would have worn then and incorporated the styles they would’ve been inspired by as time went by.”  

Hair and makeup designer Nora Robertson worked closely with Knox to create classic looks for Viktoria and Lucy, and a more contemporary look for Evie. “The inspiration is old Hollywood plus current,” said Robertson. “Lucy and Viktoria have a very classic look, a mixture of 1920s fill with a 1940s fill force. Evie, on the other hand, is a very funky New Yorker.”

“The Invitation” is rated PG-13. It will be in theaters nationwide on Aug. 26.