Anna Karenina's Costumes Take Cues from 1950s Dior Couture

When making a period film, most costume designers work diligently to ensure every detail of the costumes are historically accurate. Not so for Jacqueline Durran, the costume designer behind the lush costumes for the film Anna Karenina, who was as much inspired by 1950s couture as she was by the Russian aristocracy of the period.
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When making a period film, most costume designers work diligently to ensure every detail of the costumes are historically accurate. Not so for Jacqueline Durran, the costume designer behind the lush costumes for the film Anna Karenina, who was as much inspired by 1950s couture as she was by the Russian aristocracy of the period.
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When making a period film, most costume designers work diligently to ensure every detail of the costumes are historically accurate. Not so for Jacqueline Durran, the costume designer behind the lush costumes for the film Anna Karenina, who was as much inspired by 1950s couture as she was by the Russian aristocracy of the period.

For Anna Karenina, Durran and director Joe Wright started by looking at pictures from the period and actual pieces in the archives at the V&A Museum in London. From there, however, they took a lot of liberties. "We decided we liked the silhouette of the period but not the detailing," Wright told us at a screening last night. "So we looked particularly to Christian Dior of the 1950s, which has a similar silhouette but a much simpler, more striking detailing." (Seems like they were on the same wavelength as Raf Simons.)

The results are stunning, and the actors in the film agree that the costumes are essential to a film like this. "You create a character and as soon as you get into those garments, it just helps you to become the character," said Alicia Vikander, who plays Kitty in the film. Domhnall Gleeson, who plays Kitty's husband Levin, gushed that the costumes made Alicia look luminous: "There's this thing in the book where [when he sees her] he 'saw the sun approaching,' so it's very easy to imagine that when you see this presence enter the room."

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Of course, for the men of the film, there was an entirely different set of wardrobe issues, particularly facial hair. Gleeson sports a pretty impressive beard--"All mine!" he shared proudly--which required serious maintenance. "It took a lot of grooming," he emphasized, which included dying two parts white to age him. Luckily, he had a woman on set to care for his beard (coincidentally also named Kitty) who's husband makes his own mustache wax that she used on Gleeson.

You can check out Durran's costumes (and Gleeson's beard) in Anna Karenina when it hits theaters this Friday, November 9.