• Fashion

“The Queen’s Gambit” – Fashion, Chess and Women’s Empowerment


The Queen’s look … inspired by the chess queen. Cap and coat are from heavy and hairy alpaca wool, the buttons are made from rolled stripes of the same fabric. The pants, from very stiff helanca.



‘I remember these boots I had when I was about 11, that were very specific and different, quite chunky. I had to put them on outside the house so my mother wouldn’t question me on the choice”, delights Gabriele Binder, the Costume Designer of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit.

That confidence in striking individuality, first birthed as a pre-teen, is evident in the costumes of the period piece, the chess drama of a young woman taking on the male-dominated international world of chess. If you have an interest in fashion, this is simply required viewing.

Speaking from her home in Berlin, Germany, Gabriele Binder mapped the arc of the character, Beth, a young woman chess prodigy portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy, whose journey takes her across the world, overcoming stereotypes and, along the way, wearing the most amazing statement clothing – to such an extent that other characters comment on her ever-evolving wardrobe.

I wondered if that added pressure for the woman who got her start working first in front of the camera, and then as a stylist with photographers in the field of fashion. “Not at all”, said Binder. “The starting point is always the script. We incorporated the lines of the chessboard throughout her wardrobe, and of course, you see the parallels in the structure of the clothing and the trim and contrast of the piping. I’ve always liked piping; it adds emphasis without overpowering.’

Looking to designers like Pierre Cardin, style icons like Françoise Hardy, and the distinctive silhouettes of Andy Warhol’s ‘60s ‘The Factory’ – especially Edie Sedgwick, Binder has incorporated current trends in a stylized manner. All costumes, barring the final coat, were created from Gabriele Binder’s vision in her workshop for The Queen’s Gambit.


This Paris cross dress is of a very stiff jersey fabric – an hommage to Pierre Cardin.




Thomas Brodie-Sangster(l). Anya Taylor-Joy(r). She is in a blue and red diagonal silk blouse with a blue trevira miniskirt with side-snap fasteners and cat-eye sunglasses.



“Each is an individual, who stands out from the group”, Binder explains. “Thomas portrays Benny Watts, something of a chess wunderkind himself; he is a cowboy in a sea of old men, so he wears the hat and leather coat. She is the only one in a skirt. Here she wears a skirt and top – though it looks like a dress. Very feminine and young.’

The glasses are from Gabriele’s collection – soft cat eyes. ‘We are starting to see her personality – that of a young girl, as she grows in confidence, and moves into her own – both at the chessboard and in life.’

Note that the wide sleeves seen here are having a resurgence currently, and a top or jacket with padded shoulders is a way to immediately update your look.


The dress is of a heavy falling fabric, checked, with black satin piping at the seam and cleavage, combined with a bolero in black crepe wool with some satin decoration.



‘The bolero jacket didn’t come with the dress, “ says Binder. “The jacket moves and is very feminine, adding panache and emphasizing the silhouette. We added the piping at the neckline. Almost immediately we realized that we’d often see her mid-shot, sitting at the chessboard. We wanted interesting necklines. Something that stood out but didn’t overwhelm. This is the first look, that makes her really female and grown-up.”


The mint and black bow dress is made from creped viscose, jumping with movement to support her disorderly state.



“This was a dress we made,” Binder says.  “We chose the material because it is too light for the cut – deliberately so. The color is also a little too pale – we wanted the feeling that she is a little out of control, that she is making the wrong choices. With the severity of the dress we added the bow it softens the total and I thought it worked.”


A Courrèges-inspired t-shirt from jersey. Later she wears one from the same collection with green velvet and a dark blue broader stripe personal favorites of Gabriele Binder.



Although this is a period piece, Binder admits she creates looks, aware of trends, but that also stand alone, as inspiration, so today’s women can play with incorporating pieces in their everyday wardrobe. ‘We made the decision to go with red hair and the hair and make-up department were amazing,’ Binder tips her hat to the team. “However, not every color looks good with red hair.” Again, on-trend, the incorporation of the material headband is very fresh, and we should see it pop up in street fashion ultimately. Note the delicate watch, perfect for the period.


The white/black checked coat is a stiff wool mix framed with white crumble patent leather designed by Samuel Robert.



This photo is taken toward the end of the series. “Beth is gaining in confidence,” notes Binder.  “It takes a lot of courage to wear the coat at the neckline like that.’ The theme of chess and lines of the board are replicated in the pattern of the coat itself, as is the trim that we mentioned earlier. Note that the inner lining of the coat is on show, the sleeves of the undergarment visible below the coat cuff and meeting the leather gloves. The little purse typical of the era, carried by the hand strap. When watching the show, look for Beth’s style to be imitated in the crowds that gather to see her. She is the ultimate influencer because of her brain. The look, though exquisite, is an adjunct to the task she is performing. Binder discovered it in an LA costume house.


“At the end of her Russian stay we created this look,” says Binder. “It shows tremendous confidence. She has arrived. It is classic. She knows who she is and owns it in understated simplicity.”  Note the beret – a head adornment seen in Emily in Paris – and a look you might want to incorporate into your fall wardrobe.



Indeed, the vision of Gabriele Binder is such that The Brooklyn Museum has included it an upcoming exhibit. The exhibit which can be viewed virtually will showcase memorable looks from the Netflix Limited Series, The Queen’s Gambit and the upcoming Season 4 of The Crown (see The Wedding Dress Was ‘The Elephant in the Room’) with related items from Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection.

The wardrobes will be displayed in an interactive 360-degree perspective providing detailed insight into the individual costume selection capturing the role that fashion plays in the lives of the female leads.

Additionally, you will be able to enjoy an engaging conversation moderated by Ruth Carter with Costume Designers Gabriele Binder and Amy Roberts and Museum Curator Matthew Yokobosky. To get an early look, click the link https://www.thequeenandthecrown.com/ and fill in the password: twoqueens