Fashion / Style

Nicole Kidman’s Coats Spawn Their Own Obsession Around The Undoing — and Produce Their Own Crazy Twist

HBO's Murder Mystery is a Fashion Show in Disguise

BY // 11.24.20

True coat weather may almost always be touch and go in Texas, but teasing temps only exacerbate a mounting obsession over the array of stunning coats Nicole Kidman sports in HBO’s chilly psychological thriller, The Undoing.

If you’re among those who’ve become addicted to the show as much (or more) for a look at Kidman’s eye-catching autumn outfits — especially her coats — as for the gripping, surprise-packed mystery itself, join the crowd. Increasing numbers of such public confessions have been popping up in the press and on social media all over the globe.

I mean, who wouldn’t be drawn to an escapist, pre-pandemic murder mystery featuring top-drawer, seasoned stars including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland, all dressed to kill? So to speak.

“We Need to Talk About Nicole Kidman’s Outfits in The Undoing,” declares the headline over a recent Marie Claire Australia article by Pema Bakshi. The show’s fashion has been on point, Bakshi writes, from the embroidered capes to the Givenchy gown “and all the stunning coats in between.”

Bakshi discloses that while the thriller has had her on the edge of her seat from the beginning of the miniseries, the one thing that’s kept her on her toes beyond the whodunit mystery is Kidman’s outfits.

In playing esteemed New York psychotherapist Grace Fraser, whose perfect life starts to derail after her husband (Hugh Grant) is charged with murder, “Kidman’s portrayal has struck a chord with many a fashion-lover,” Bakshi writes, noting that fashion can go a long way in telling a story.

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Her article incorporates a list of images exemplifying the kaleidoscopic series of outfits Kidman wears so beautifully, dominated by coats in a host of sumptuous colors (which remind me of the bigger, more expensive Crayola boxes of my childhood, featuring exotic shades like asparagus), lengths (e.g., those long, sweeping statement coats Grace chooses for her mysterious walks,) and fabrics (such as romantic velvets and elegant brocade.) Grace’s innumerable outfits, especially what I’d call her “power coats,” strike me as symbolic of the show’s emphasis on the persuasive powers of money and privileged position.

Leading Bakshi’s fashion parade of images is an intriguing green coat, a vintage-looking specimen in a mottled shade I would describe as “pistachio” or perhaps more in keeping with the show’s dark theme, “absinthe.” To me, it’s a standout primarily in the sense that this coat looks completely different from every other coat Grace wears in the show.

A curiosity-induced Internet search revealed that Grace’s coats have captured a tremendous amount of public attention, and most notably, that this particular coat has become the highly controversial subject of myriad stories in the press and numerous Twitter comments.

kidman green coat HBO jpeg
The green coat Nicole Kidman wears in this scene from HBO’s ‘The Undoing’ has sparked considerable controversy among viewers. (Image courtesy of HBO.)

In fact, British Vogue pronounced the green coat “The Most Divisive Coat on TV,” calling it “either an exemplar of boho-chic or a vestige of Middle Earth, depending on personal taste,” in an article combining two of its editors’ contrasting assessments of it. One absolutely adores the coat, while the other finds it appalling.

“Weirdly textured, perfectly tailored and with a slouchy hood, the green coat is a standout exemplar of autumnal chic,” writes fashion news director Olivia Singer, who admits she is so “besotted by” the coat  that she’s desperate to find a replica for herself. But senior news editor Alice Newbold says the coat “looks like it’s been unearthed from the annals of a studio prop house. Or possibly Middle Earth,” adding that it has “witchy qualities.”

Newbold provides a potentially telling clue in guessing why the traumatized therapist seems to favor this “bohemian coverup” in writing that she uses it as her “comfort blanket against the world.” That’s something for viewers to ruminate over while watching the usually impeccably dressed Dr. Fraser frequently wearing a vintage-style, casual coat that sets up a mystery of its own.

In contrast to all the other contemporary, sophisticated, obviously expensive coats that Kidman wears with such flair throughout the show, this long, marbled green coat, with its youthful hood and bunched-up, rippled chenille-like fabric, looks to me like something that her character might have saved from her now-deceased mother’s closet, perhaps thinking it was something her beloved mother wore as a lark when she was a carefree young woman in the  ‘60s or ‘70s.

Kidman Cape
A stunning, embroidered cape covers Nicole Kidman’s gown as she speaks to Hugh Grant at a black-tie affair in this scene from HBO’s ‘The Undoing.’ (Image courtesy of HBO.)

The therapist’s many-colored coats garner further attention in an article in The Cut that is full of high praise for her coats, including the controversial green one, which is comically distinguished with a backhanded compliment.

“Nicole Kidman’s Coats Are the Real Stars of The Undoing,” is the headline over a story by Angelina Chapin, adding that “The show is meh, but the coats are eye candy.”  Chapin loves a “velvet (velour?) blood-red number with a belted tie” that “evokes a classy update on Hugh Hefner’s bathrobe.”

Her second favorite is the green “sexy alligator coat” which she thinks would make anybody else look like a “swamp monster,” but she says Grace successfully pulls off the “mounds of moss-colored fabric.”

The United States Vogue helpfully ranks the coats Kidman wears in The Undoing “in order of their sartorial majesty,” finding in them a “subtle hint of coziness that feels consonant with her profession, even though you can tell each coat was likely purchased at Bergdorf’s with the help of a personal shopper.”

“What makes the coats so great is their specificity of character,” Emma Specter cleverly observed of the “many, many, many expensive coats” that Grace wears as she “stalks the wintry streets.”

Although she singled out a burgundy trench coat for plaudits, observing that it makes Grace look professional and poised, Specter slammed the green chenille number Grace apparently favors. She said the coat not only looks itchy, but viscerally stresses her out, describing the green shade as “more reminiscent of bile – sorry! – than fine dressing.”

As for me, in this age of divisive political extremes, I’m strictly sticking with “pistachio.” But I will say I love a good mystery.

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