Anna Karenina marks the third time costume designer Jacqueline Durran has teamed up with director Joe Wright and the film’s star Keira Knightley–and we think it’s safe to say that the trio has definitely hit its stride.
Their previous projects, Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, each earned Durran an Oscar nomination for her designs, so let’s just say that her Dior-inspired designs for Anna Karenina are probably worth the price of a ticket alone. The rest of the cast (including a brief, line-free cameo by Cara Delevingne) look just as brilliant in the visually stunning film. We got the chance to catch up with Jacqueline to ask her why she mixed 1950s couture with Russian aristocracy and what it’s like to work in costume design.
Read on to hear what she had to say and get a behind-the-scenes, up-close-and-personal look at some of the costumes.
Fashionista: How did you get into costume design?
Durran: I left university and I didn’t know what career path to take, and I had no contact or knowledge of costume design at all. I’d never worked out in my head that someone did that job, and I didn’t have any idea how to get into it. Someone that my mother met was working on a commercial who got me a job on that set, and they suggested I work at Angels, a costume design place in London. I’ve always been interested in period clothes and period costume–I could probably date clothes in the 20th century. Once I was there, I met lots of costume designers I could work out what the job actually entails, and I could make contacts.
What is the advantage of mixing references rather than trying to be historically accurate?
It’s quite liberating because it means you can fall back on a kind of sense of style, and you can take chances and you can experiment. If you’re doing something that’s completely accurate you have to find a reference to anything you do or make, but once you’re freed from that you’re left to the sense of style or sense of interpretation and that’s quite liberating.
Joe Wright mentioned that you found inspiration in 1950s Dior Couture; was there any particular look that inspired you or that you took reference from?
It’s not about the specifics of the looks, it’s really the approach in terms of kind of combining two things cleverly. I took inspiration from 1950s couture because it was a stark, architectural approach which doesn’t involve a lot of surface detail but at the same time captures a kind of romanticism. Together those two things were the inspirations.
What was it about 1950s couture that you thought would blend well with the costume of Imperial Russia?