Tuesday 31 October 2017

Great British outwear




Friday 27 October 2017

Sunday Images / Tweedland / "Just One"

Consolata Boyle / costume designer / Vídeo below: VICTORIA & ABDUL

Consolata Boyle is an Irish costume designer based in Dublin. She is a frequent collaborator of English director Stephen Frears and has been nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for her work on two of his films: The Queen (2006) and Florence Foster Jenkins (2016).

A graduate of University College Dublin in Archaeology and History, where she was involved in the University society Dramsoc, she trained in costume design at the Abbey Theatre and began her career in the early 1980s. She also did a postgraduate diploma in textiles at West Surrey College of Art & Design (now University for the Creative Arts).

Her many credits include Anne Devlin (1984), December Bride (1991), Into the West (1992), Widows' Peak (1994), Angela's Ashes (1999), Nora (2000), When Brendan Met Trudy (2001), The Iron Lady (2011), Miss Julie (2014) and Testament of Youth (2014). Her collaboration with Stephen Frears began with The Snapper in 1993 and continued with films including Mary Reilly (1996), The Queen (2006), Cheri (2009), Tamara Drewe (2010), Philomena (2013) and Florence Foster Jenkins (2016). Most recently, she designed the costumes for Frears' forthcoming 2017 film Victoria and Abdul, in which Dame Judi Dench will reprise her role as Queen Victoria alongside Ali Fazal as Abdul Karim.

As well as her two Oscar nominations, Boyle has been nominated for several other awards throughout her career as a costume designer and amongst those that she has won are an Emmy Award for the television film The Lion in Winter (2003), a Costume Designers Guild Award for The Queen (2006) and four Irish Film and Television Awards for The Queen (2006), Chéri (2009), The Iron Lady (2011) and Philomena (2013). Had she won the Oscar for which she had been nominated at the 89th Academy Awards (2017), she would have become the fifth Irishwoman to win a competitive Oscar after art director Josie MacAvin, make-up artist Michèle Burke, producer Corinne Marrinan and actress Brenda Fricker. She is married to Donald Taylor Black and they have one child. She lost to American designer Colleen Atwood.

Irish costume designer Consolata Boyle receives Oscar nomination
Amy Mulvaney
January 24 2017 1:29 PM

Consolata Boyle has landed an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design.
The Dublin woman was nominated for her work on comedy-drama Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Meryl Streep.
Consolata has been working on costumes in theatre and film since the early 1980s and her credits include Angela's Ashes and The Iron Lady. She won an Emmy in 2004 for her work on The Lion in Winter, and was nominated for an Oscar in 2007 for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work on The Queen.

"My journey in to the film industry was quite unexpected. I was working in theatre when I got the opportunity to work on a film, and I was fascinated by the art. I started doing very small films, then moved in to television and then in to bigger films. It was all a very natural progression and very organic, and I absolutely loved it," she told Weekend Magazine last year.

"Awards season is incredible because you go through all the rituals. The screenings, question and answer sessions and events all happen before the big event. It's great because everyone there is completely obsessed by film, and delightfully curious and enthusiastic."

Consolata has also worked on The Van, The Snapper and Into the West.
In a successful day for Irish film, Irish-Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga secured an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role in Loving, while Irish-funded The Lobster, staring Colin Farrell, secured Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

The 89th Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood on February 26 and will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Costume designer Consolata Boyle's turn-of-the-century wardrobe helps portray the unlikely friendship between Queen Victoria and her Indian Muslim teacher Abdul Karim.

Based on the novel "Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant," by Shrabani Basu, the Dame Judi Dench-starring film "Victoria and Abdul" sheds light on the close friendship between Queen Victoria and Indian servant-turned-confidante Abdul Karim. Out of fondness, the Queen (and Empress of India) bestowed privilege, power and land to the Muslim Indian spiritual guide (or "munshi"), which you can imagine did not go over well with the xenophobic court and royal servants during the aggressive late "imperial century" portion of the British colonial empire.

The true story of the unexpected (and then-controversial) royal friendship also brings the opportunity for a sweeping, prestige period drama by acclaimed director Stephen Frears — and the sumptuous costumes that come with it. Although, I do feel the need to mention: While the movie tries to emphasize cultural, ethnic and religious tolerance, it's hard to ignore Great Britain's cruel colonial history and the icky mystical Asian man portrayal of real person and colonial subject Abdul, played by Ali Fazal. That said, I'll leave the in-depth discussion to the film and culture critics and focus instead on the stunning 19th-century period costumes spanning the two cultures, created by Consolata Boyle.

The costume design is even more notable considering that much documentation of the Victoria and Abdul's relationship was destroyed and lost to history. Plus, Queen Victoria famously wore black — as many women in the Victorian period did — for her remaining 40 years after the passing of beloved husband Albert in 1861, calling for extreme creativity when designing dresses for a 2D film.

Of course, Boyle is no stranger to monumental period pieces, especially ones depicting British monarchs played by knighted thespians. She received her first Oscar nomination for the Frears-directed "The Queen," starring Dame Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II. (She earned her second nod for dressing American movie royalty Meryl Streep in "Florence Foster Jenkins" in 2016.) A longtime Frears collaborator, Boyle also worked with the director and Dench on the Oscar-nominated "Philomena."

While on a quick visit to sunny Los Angeles to promote the film, Boyle jumped on the phone to chat with me about how Queen Victoria's all black wardrobe did evolve as she found happiness and joy in her friendship, how costume reimagined the royal court tailor's cultural appropriation of Abdul's first outfit in Great Britain and what it's like working with the formidable Dame Judi Dench.

What challenges did you face when working with so much Victorian-era black? How did make Queen Victoria's dresses so dynamic for the big screen?

It is true that she wore black and so did much of her court and many people in the Victorian Era, to which she gave her name. There was so much death around — of children, of relations — and obviously she was in deepest mourning for Albert after he died, then various other relations would die, and then the mourning process would keep on going. But one thing that I was very aware of with all the black is that we could use as much texture as possible, and this really helped the lighting cameraman.

I had many conversations with mechanical and our lighting cameraman about how to make black have more depth and be less flat and less slightly light absorbing. In keeping with the fashion and facts of the time, there was a lot of heavy embellishment on the gowns and a lot of detail, a lot of embroidery, a lot of lace, a lot of layered on trim. Jet, which sparkles in light, was a very common decoration. Pleating, frilling and masses of ribbon was used in Victorian period to create texture and detail, and Victoria was a great person for adding embellishment and the use of jewelry.

But also, in order to help us tell her story as [the Queen's] relationship developed with Abdul, I used subtle different sorts of dark tones, like very dark gray or turf brown or purples, which were a mourning color, various purples and lavenders; then, of course, the traditional white, which is a very important later stage mourning color. The lace and actual white fabrics and silks used were part of the process of the mourning, but also helped the telling of our story as things lightened, particularly during their trips to Italy when she starts to rediscover joy, interest and the closeness of her friendship with Abdul.

How did you research how to design Abdul's costumes, especially since so much of the documentation had been destroyed?

Very, very deliberately, masses of visual reference were lost — particularly of him and of the two of them together — which there had been a lot of. But there was a enough. We did a massive amount of research and we found in various archives images of Abdul as he progressed through the royal household. When he started, that uniform he and [fellow Indian servant] Mohammed [played by Adeel Akhtar] were put in initially [above] is like a concoction of a Western version of what they think an Indian and a servant would wear. In many aways it echoes what the servants in the royal household wore — the gold-embellishment and trim — and it had a very Indian feel (or what the royal tailors perceive to be an Indian feel), which of course was always a made-up look.

Then, you could see as Abdul became 'munshi' — as she made him her 'munshi' and teacher — he started to wear more flamboyant, more traditional Indian clothing of high ranking [below]; a lot of silks, a lot of rich colors, a lot of surface details. As he progressed, and became more pompous and caused more discord in the royal household, his visual look added also to the disquiet and the racism [from] within the household, which is quite obvious to our story. So it was a progression from the very simple look of when he's in Agra as a lowly clerk and to the royal household where he's first a servant and then moves on to becoming dangerously close to the Queen, to the horror of everybody.

The beginning of the movie shows an aging Queen Victoria being woken and physically dressed by a procession of dressers and ladies-in waiting; how did that whole elaborate scene affect your job as the costume designer?

It was very important, right from when she's hauled out of bed, literally comatose, by her personal servants and her maids of the bed chamber, to when she starts the process, so that the actor feels the constraints of the corset and the feeling of the weight of the clothes of that period and how they would affect how people walked while bringing all this fabric around with them and whipping it around as they turned corners and how it limited what a person could do. All of that was very important to get that feeling.

But also Victoria's passivity and — through the feeling of sadness about that scene of dressing scene — of her literally being treated like a child and literally sticking her arms, like, her arms out, arms up, in you go, out you go. That kind of strange set up — this mixture from her servants of fear and yet arrogance — that comes with power and obviously, she's at an age and a frail woman at that point. She ends at the state banquet, and that obviously is the [culmination] of her dressing [with the] final look of how she is at her entrance and sitting at the head of the long table at the state banquet.

The state banquet scene in the beginning was spectacular in terms of the number of people in costume and the overall composition. How did you handle that?

I'm very lucky in that I had a brilliant team, and that particular scene was brought forward in the schedule, which obviously is everybody's nightmare working in film. It was a massive rush to get it ready. All of the ladies of the court and the gentlemen of the court and all of the servants and everything had to be completely right and yet have a flexibility, so you felt it was real and that people were not just costumed dummies — that everybody had a life and a background and a history of their own that every single person was unique. We worked very hard.

What was it like working for a second time with Dame Judi Dench, and how did your costumes to help put her in her role?

We worked very closely together. We have a lot of laughs. We worked our way through everything: the weight of the costumes, the amount of changes, how they expressed the woman, how we going to use the different dark colors to express the development of the relationship, that woman's character — and Judi just takes this. She has this wonderful instinctive skill — genius — and it's almost mysterious. It's wonderful, you observe it in some great actors. You cannot pin it down. She has this amazing ability to totally absorb the character and just seamlessly work [in] and it's like something that's intuitive in her. She opens herself up in every way, to life in every character she plays. She's completely fearless and watching that and being part of that was an absolute joy.

Homepage photo: Peter Mountain / Focus Features

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

The Mystery of Mata Hari

Exhibition MataHari “The Myth and the Girl”
14 oktober 2017 t/m 2 april 2018

Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" MacLeod (née Zelle; 7 August 1876 – 15 October 1917), better known by the stage name Mata Hari, was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy for Germany during World War I and executed by firing squad in France.

Margaretha Zelle was born 7 August 1876, in Leeuwarden, in the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. She was the eldest of four children of Adam Zelle (2 October 1840 – 13 March 1910) and his first wife Antje van der Meulen (21 April 1842 – 9 May 1891). She had three brothers. Her father owned a hat shop, made successful investments in the oil industry, and became affluent enough to give Margaretha a lavish early childhood that included exclusive schools until the age of 13. Despite traditional assertions that Mata Hari was partly of Javanese, i.e. Indonesian, descent, scholars conclude she had no Asian or Middle Eastern ancestry and both her parents were Dutch.

Soon after Margaretha's father went bankrupt in 1889, her parents divorced, and then her mother died in 1891. Her father remarried in Amsterdam on 9 February 1893 to Susanna Catharina ten Hoove (11 March 1844 – 1 December 1913), by whom he had no children. The family fell apart, and Margaretha moved to live with her godfather, Mr. Visser, in Sneek. Subsequently, she studied to be a kindergarten teacher in Leiden, but when the headmaster began to flirt with her conspicuously, she was removed from the institution by her offended godfather. A few months later, she fled to her uncle's home in The Hague.

At 18, Zelle answered an advertisement in a Dutch newspaper placed by Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod (1 March 1856 – 9 January 1928), who was living in what was then the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and was looking for a wife. Zelle married MacLeod in Amsterdam on 11 July 1895. He was the son of Captain John Brienen MacLeod (a descendant of the Gesto branch of the MacLeods of Skye, hence his Scottish name) and Dina Louisa, Baroness Sweerts de Landas. The marriage enabled her to move into the Dutch upper class, and her finances were placed on a sound footing. They moved to Malang on the east side of the island of Java, traveling out on SS Prinses Amalia in May 1897, and had two children, Norman-John MacLeod (30 January 1897 – 27 June 1899) and Louise Jeanne MacLeod (2 May 1898 – 10 August 1919).

The marriage was an overall disappointment. MacLeod was an alcoholic and regularly beat his wife, who was twenty years younger and whom he blamed for his lack of promotion. He also openly kept a concubine, a socially accepted practice in the Dutch East Indies at that time. The disenchanted Zelle abandoned him temporarily, moving in with Van Rheedes, another Dutch officer. She studied the Indonesian traditions intensively for several months and joined a local dance company during that time. In correspondence to her relatives in the Netherlands in 1897, she revealed her artistic name of Mata Hari, the word for "sun" in the local Malay language (literally, "eye of the day").

At MacLeod's urging, Zelle returned to him, but his behavior did not change. She escaped her circumstances by studying the local culture. In 1899, their children fell violently ill from complications relating to the treatment of syphilis contracted from their parents, though the family claimed they were poisoned by an irate servant. Jeanne survived, but Norman died. Some sources maintain that one of MacLeod's enemies may have poisoned a supper to kill both of their children. After moving back to the Netherlands, the couple officially separated on 30 August 1902. The divorce became final in 1906. Zelle was awarded custody of Jeanne. MacLeod was legally required to pay support, which he never did, making life very difficult for Zelle and her daughter. During a visit of Jeanne with her father, MacLeod decided not to return Jeanne to her mother. Zelle did not have resources to fight the situation and accepted it, believing that while McLeod had been an abusive husband, he had always been a good father. Jeanne later died at the age of 21, also possibly from complications relating to syphilis.

In 1903, Zelle moved to Paris, where she performed as a circus horse rider using the name Lady MacLeod, much to the disapproval of the Dutch MacLeods. Struggling to earn a living, she also posed as an artist's model.

By 1905, Mata Hari began to win fame as an exotic dancer. She was a contemporary of dancers Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, leaders in the early modern dance movement, which around the turn of the 20th century looked to Asia and Egypt for artistic inspiration. Critics would later write about this and other such movements within the context of Orientalism. Gabriel Astruc became her personal booking agent.

Promiscuous, flirtatious, and openly flaunting her body, Mata Hari captivated her audiences and was an overnight success from the debut of her act at the Musée Guimet on 13 March 1905. She became the long-time mistress of the millionaire Lyon industrialist Émile Étienne Guimet, who had founded the Musée. She posed as a Javanese princess of priestly Hindu birth, pretending to have been immersed in the art of sacred Indian dance since childhood. She was photographed numerous times during this period, nude or nearly so. Some of these pictures were obtained by MacLeod and strengthened his case in keeping custody of their daughter.[citation needed]

Mata Hari brought a carefree provocative style to the stage in her act, which garnered wide acclaim. The most celebrated segment of her act was her progressive shedding of clothing until she wore just a jeweled bra and some ornaments upon her arms and head. She was seldom seen without a bra as she was self-conscious about being small-breasted. She wore a bodystocking for her performances that was similar in color to her own skin.

Although Mata Hari's claims about her origins were fictitious, it was very common for entertainers of her era to invent colorful stories about their origins as part of the show. Her act was successful because it elevated exotic dance to a more respectable status and so broke new ground in a style of entertainment for which Paris was later to become world-famous. Her style and free-willed attitude made her a popular woman, as did her eagerness to perform in exotic and revealing clothing. She posed for provocative photos and mingled in wealthy circles. Since most Europeans at the time were unfamiliar with the Dutch East Indies, Mata Hari was thought of as exotic, and it was assumed her claims were genuine. One evidently enthused French journalist wrote in a Paris newspaper that Mata Hari was "so feline, extremely feminine, majestically tragic, the thousand curves and movements of her body trembling in a thousand rhythms." One journalist in Vienna wrote after seeing one of her performances that Mata Hari was "slender and tall with the flexible grace of a wild animal, and with blue-black hair" and that her face "makes a strange foreign impression."

By about 1910, myriad imitators had arisen. Critics began to opine that the success and dazzling features of the popular Mata Hari were due to cheap exhibitionism and lacked artistic merit. Although she continued to schedule important social events throughout Europe, she was held in disdain by serious cultural institutions as a dancer who did not know how to dance.

Mata Hari's career went into decline after 1912. On 13 March 1915, she performed in what would be the last show of her career. She had begun her career relatively late for a dancer, and had started putting on weight. However, by this time she had become a successful courtesan, known more for her sensuality and eroticism than for her beauty. She had relationships with high-ranking military officers, politicians, and others in influential positions in many countries. Her relationships and liaisons with powerful men frequently took her across international borders. Prior to World War I, she was generally viewed as an artist and a free-spirited bohemian, but as war approached, she began to be seen by some as a wanton and promiscuous woman, and perhaps a dangerous seductress.

During World War I, the Netherlands remained neutral. As a Dutch subject, Zelle was thus able to cross national borders freely. To avoid the battlefields, she travelled between France and the Netherlands via Spain and Britain, and her movements inevitably attracted attention. During the war, Zelle was involved in what was described as a very intense romantic-sexual relationship with a Russian pilot serving with the French, the twenty-five year old Captain Vadim Maslov, whom she called the love of her life. Maslov was part of the 50,000 strong Russian Expeditionary Force sent to the Western Front in the spring of 1916.

In the summer of 1916, Maslov was shot down and badly wounded during a dogfight with the Germans, losing his sight in both eyes, which led Zelle to ask for permission to visit her wounded lover at the hospital where he was staying near the front. As a citizen of a neutral country, Zelle would not normally be allowed near the front. Zelle was met by agents from the Deuxième Bureau who told her that she would only be allowed to see Maslov if she agreed to spy on Germany.

Before the war, Zelle had performed as Mata Hari several times before the Crown Prince Wilhelm, eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II and nominally a senior German general on the Western Front. The Deuxième Bureau believed she might be able to obtain information by seducing the Crown Prince for military secrets. In fact, his involvement was minimal and it was German government propaganda that promoted the image of the Crown Prince as a great warrior, the worthy successor to the august Hohenzollern monarchs who had made Prussia strong and powerful. They wanted to avoid publicizing that the man expected to be the next Kaiser was a playboy noted for womanizing, partying, and indulging in alcohol, who spent another portion of his time intriguing with far right-wing politicians, with the intent to have his father declared insane and deposed.

Unaware that the Crown Prince did not have much to do with the running of Army Group Crown Prince or the 5th Army, the Deuxième Bureau offered Zelle one million francs if she could seduce him and provide France with good intelligence about German plans. The fact that the Crown Prince had, before 1914, never commanded a unit larger than a regiment, and was now supposedly commanding both an army and an army group at the same time should have been a clue that his role in German decision-making was mostly nominal. Zelle's contact with the Deuxième Bureau was Captain Georges Ladoux, who was later to emerge as one of her principal accusers.

In November 1916, she was travelling by steamer from Spain when her ship called at the British port of Falmouth. There she was arrested and brought to London where she was interrogated at length by Sir Basil Thomson, Assistant Commissioner at New Scotland Yard in charge of counter-espionage. He gave an account of this in his 1922 book Queer People, saying that she eventually admitted to working for the Deuxième Bureau. Initially detained in Cannon Street police station, she was then released and stayed at the Savoy Hotel. A full transcript of the interview is in Britain's National Archives and was broadcast, with Mata Hari played by Eleanor Bron, on the independent station LBC in 1980. It is unclear if she lied on this occasion, believing the story made her sound more intriguing, or if French authorities were using her in such a way but would not acknowledge her due to the embarrassment and international backlash it could cause.

In late 1916, Zelle travelled to Madrid, where she met with the German military attaché, Major Arnold Kalle, and asked if he could arrange a meeting with the Crown Prince. During this period, Zelle apparently offered to share French secrets with Germany in exchange for money, though whether this was because of greed or an attempt to set up a meeting with Crown Prince Wilhelm remains unclear.

In January 1917, Major Kalle transmitted radio messages to Berlin describing the helpful activities of a German spy code-named H-21, whose biography so closely matched Zelle's that it was patently obvious that Agent H-21 could only be Mata Hari. The Deuxième Bureau intercepted the messages and, from the information they contained, identified H-21 as Mata Hari. The messages were in a code that German intelligence knew had already been broken by the French, suggesting that the messages were contrived to have Zelle arrested by the French.

General Walter Nicolai, the chief IC (intelligence officer) of the German Army, had grown very annoyed that Mata Hari had provided him with no intelligence worthy of the name, instead selling the Germans mere Paris gossip about the sex lives of French politicians and generals, and decided to terminate her employment by exposing her as a German spy to the French.

In December 1916, the French Second Bureau of the French War Ministry let Mata Hari obtain the names of six Belgian agents. Five were suspected of submitting fake material and working for the Germans, while the sixth was suspected of being a double agent for Germany and France. Two weeks after Mata Hari had left Paris for a trip to Madrid, the double agent was executed by the Germans, while the five others continued their operations. This development served as proof to the Second Bureau that the names of the six spies had been communicated by Mata Hari to the Germans.

On 13 February 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in her room at the Hotel Elysée Palace on the Champs Elysées in Paris. She was put on trial on 24 July, accused of spying for Germany, and consequently causing the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers. Although the French and British intelligence suspected her of spying for Germany, neither could produce definite evidence against her. Supposedly secret ink was found in her room, which was incriminating evidence in that period. She contended that it was part of her makeup.

Zelle's principal interrogator was Captain Pierre Bouchardon, the man who was to prosecute her at her trial, who grilled her relentlessly. Bouchardon was able to establish that much of the Mata Hari persona was invented, and far from being a Javanese princess, Zelle was actually Dutch, which he was to use as evidence of her dubious and dishonest character at her trial. Zelle admitted to Bouchardon that she had accepted 20,000 francs from a German diplomat in the Netherlands to spy on France, but insisted she only passed on to the Germans trivial information as her loyalty was entirely to her adopted nation, France. In the meantime, Ladoux had been preparing a case against his former agent by casting all of her activities in the worst possible light, going so far as to engage in evidence tampering.

In 1917, France had been badly shaken by the Great Mutinies of the French Army in the spring of 1917 following the failure of the Nivelle Offensive together with a huge strike wave, and at the time, many believed that France might simply collapse as a result of war exhaustion. In July 1917, a new government under Georges Clemenceau, aka "le tigre", had come into power, utterly committed to winning the war. In this context, having one German spy for whom everything that went wrong with the war so far could be blamed was most convenient for the French government, making Mata Hari the perfect scapegoat, which explains why the case against her received maximum publicity in the French press, and led to her importance in the war being greatly exaggerated. The Canadian historian Wesley Wark stated in a 2014 interview that Mata Hari was never an important spy and just made a scapegoat for French military failures which she had nothing to do with, stating: "They needed a scapegoat and she was a notable target for scapegoating". Likewise, the British historian Julie Wheelwright stated: "She really did not pass on anything that you couldn’t find in the local newspapers in Spain". Wheelwright went on to describe Zelle as "...an independent woman, a divorcee, a citizen of a neutral country, a courtesan and a dancer, which made her a perfect scapegoat for the French, who were then losing the war. She was kind of held up as an example of what might happen if your morals were too loose”.

Zelle wrote several letters to the Dutch Ambassador in Paris, claiming her innocence. "My international connections are due of my work as a dancer, nothing else .... Because I really did not spy, it is terrible that I cannot defend myself".] The most terrible and heart-breaking moment for Mata Hari during the trial occurred when her lover Maslov – by now a deeply embittered man as a result of losing his eyes in combat – declined to testify for her, telling her he couldn't care less if she were convicted or not. It was reported that Zelle fainted when she learned that Maslov had abandoned her.

Her defence attorney, veteran international lawyer Édouard Clunet, faced impossible odds; he was denied permission either to cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses or to examine his own witnesses directly.[citation needed] Bouchardon used the very fact that Zelle was a woman as evidence of her guilt, saying: "Without scruples, accustomed to make use of men, she is the type of woman who is born to be a spy

Mata Hari herself admitted under interrogation to taking money to work as a German spy. It is contended by some historians that Mata Hari may have merely accepted money from the Germans without actually carrying out any spy duties. At her trial, Zelle vehemently insisted that her sympathies were with the Allies and declared her passionate love of France, her adopted homeland. In October 2001, documents released from the archives of MI5 (British counter-intelligence) were used by a Dutch group, the Mata Hari Foundation to ask the French government to exonerate Zelle as they argued that the MI5 files proved she was not guilty of the charges she was convicted of. A spokesman from the Mata Hari Foundation argued that at most Zelle was a low-level spy who provided no secrets to either side, stating: "We believe that there are sufficient doubts concerning the dossier of information that was used to convict her to warrant re-opening the case. Maybe she wasn't entirely innocent, but it seems clear she wasn't the master-spy whose information sent thousands of soldiers to their deaths, as has been claimed.".

Zelle was executed by a firing squad of 12 French officers just before dawn on 15 October 1917. She was 41. According to an eyewitness account by British reporter Henry Wales, she was not bound and refused a blindfold. She defiantly blew a kiss to the firing squad. Zelle has often been portrayed as a femme fatale, the dangerous, seductive woman who uses her sexuality to effortlessly manipulate men, but others view her differently: in the words of the American historians Norman Polmer and Thomas Allen she was "naïve and easily duped", a victim of men rather than a victimizer.

A 1934 New Yorker article reported that at her execution she wore "a neat Amazonian tailored suit, especially made for the occasion, and a pair of new white gloves" though another account indicates she wore the same suit, low-cut blouse and tricorn hat ensemble which had been picked out by her accusers for her to wear at trial, and which was still the only full, clean outfit which she had in prison. Neither description matches photographic evidence. Wales recorded her death, saying that after the volley of shots rang out, "Slowly, inertly, she settled to her knees, her head up always, and without the slightest change of expression on her face. For the fraction of a second it seemed she tottered there, on her knees, gazing directly at those who had taken her life. Then she fell backward, bending at the waist, with her legs doubled up beneath her." A non-commissioned officer then walked up to her body, pulled out his revolver, and shot her in the head to make sure she was dead.

Mata Hari's body was not claimed by any family members and was accordingly used for medical study. Her head was embalmed and kept in the Museum of Anatomy in Paris. In 2000, archivists discovered that it had disappeared, possibly as early as 1954, according to curator Roger Saban, when the museum had been relocated. It remains missing. Records dated from 1918 show that the museum also received the rest of the body, but none of the remains could later be accounted for.

Mata Hari's sealed trial and related other documents were scheduled to be declassified by the French Army in 2017, one hundred years after her execution.

The Frisian museum (Dutch: Fries Museum) in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, contains a "Mata Hari Room". Included in the exhibit are two of her personal scrapbooks and an oriental rug embroidered with the footsteps of her fan dance. Located in Mata Hari's native town, the museum is well known for research into the life and career of Leeuwarden's world-famous citizen. The largest ever Mata Hari exhibition has been opened in the Museum of Friesland on 14 October 2017, one hundred years after her death.

Mata Hari's birthplace is located in the building at Kelders 33. The building suffered smoke and water damage during a fire in 2013, but was later restored. Architect Silvester Adema studied old drawings of the storefront in order to reconstruct it as it appeared when Abraham Zelle, the father of Mata Hari, had a hat shop there. In 2016, an information centre (belevingscentrum) was created in the building displaying mementos of Mata Hari.