Carey Mulligan, 20, and Emma Williams, 22, know a thing or two about this seasons biggest trend, having lived and breathed Victoriana thanks to their starring roles in Bleak House, the BBCs new period drama.
You get quite strict about your corset its like, Come on, tighter, tighter, says Carey, who plays Ada Clare. I had this gorgeous dress for a wedding scene, but it was ridiculously small. I nearly fainted, my corset was so tight. I wore it for eight hours, breathing really slowly so I wouldnt fall over. Im sure I cracked a rib that day.
Emma, who plays Rosa, the maid to X Files star Gillian Andersons character, Lady Dedlock, also suffered in the name of her art. I had original Victorian corsets, so they were really heavy. I spent half the day crouching down to take the weight off my back, she says. But you do get addicted to them. I might start wearing one round the house, doing the cleaning marigolds and a corset. Im a classy girl, me.
So how was working with the series big-name stars? God, it was terrifying, especially when I heard people like Charles Dance were in it, says Carey. I couldnt really believe I was in a show with all these people. I remember just looking around, thinking, Theres Alistair McGowan, and theres Johnny Vegas. A lot of them look like Dickens characters, theyve got amazing faces.
Emma, meanwhile, worked very closely with Gillian Anderson. She could afford to be a diva, but shes lovely. The first thing she said to me was, Why are all my girls so tall? Im 5ft 7in and shes tiny. But she looks stunning, even without make-up.
As part of Rosas duties, Emma had to style Gillians hair on camera. She had this amazing wig. Im putting combs through it, thinking, Please dont let me ruin it, remembers Emma. Gillian thought mine was a wig, too, but it was my own. One time, she thought I had a hair loose, so she grabbed it and ended up pulling a big chunk out of my head.
Outside Bleak House, both girls admit they lack a little in the style department. My wardrobe is a disaster, laughs Emma. I once went out in wide purple chiffon silk pants with a matching vest top. I was a mass of mauve. Careys no better. When I was 11, I went to a disco wearing a shiny purple shirt with green flares and silver wedge shoes. I wasnt cool, and Im still not.
Despite being no strangers to fashion faux pas, both girls love shopping. Im very excited about winter because I love jackets and coats, says Carey. Ive got so many I cant fit them into my flat.
Emma agrees. My favourite thing is a floor-length cream wool coat, flecked with black fake fur and a huge black furry collar. A woman once started shouting at me for wearing fur. Im like What animal looks like this? A badger with highlights?
Bleak House is on BBC1, Fridays, 8.30pm