There’s an element of historical accuracy in this choice, too; Stacey explains that the makeup used on the actors is reflective of what actual sex workers wore in that time. “It felt like those girls probably pass around the same lipstick and eye shadow, so they’re all within the same color palette,” Stacey says. “The origin of red lipstick is that it was used for sex workers because when you’re in a sexual situation, the blood rushes to those parts and makes your lips red or cheeks redder…the sex workers were using that to promote sex. We thought, ‘This is an opportunity to do that.’”
The Story of Swiney’s Tattoos
In a scene with Bella, Swiney, who normally is covered up, is revealed to be blanketed in tattoos from her neck to her feet. Stacey was inspired by a picture she’s had for around a decade of an Edwardian woman covered in tattoos. “I’m just fascinated by it because it’s obviously not something that you see a lot in those periods,” Stacey says. “We knew that there needed to be something really strong [about] this woman that runs this brothel.”
Stacey and costume designer Holly Waddington discussed Swiney’s clothing choices — you initially never see what’s underneath the high necklines, large, puffy shoulders, long sleeves, and floor-length hemlines she wears, giving them an opportunity to reveal a little more about her character with the tattoos hiding underneath.
For the tattoos, Stacey mapped out the placement on a scan of Hunter’s body. Nearly 150 tattoos were applied and made to look faded on the skin; the overall makeup process took about two and a half hours from start to finish. The illustrations for the tattoos feature a wide range of subjects including aquatic creatures, nautical themes, French sayings, and men’s names to reflect who Swiney is and the lives she’s lived.