This year the Radio City Rockettes are celebrating 85 years of holiday high-kicking. To properly commemorate the anniversary and pay tribute to the dancers and their rich history, costumes from different decades have been incorporated into this year’s show.
The Rockettes’ costumes, kitschy and a tiny bit titillating (there’s lots of leg on display, after all), have often been a reflection of what’s going on in the world and mirrored the style of the time–although with a lot more sequins. Some, like the toy soldier costumes, haven’t changed very much aesthetically through the years, though fabrics and construction have improved.
Last week we caught up with four Rockettes, and after getting them to reveal all their beauty secrets, talk turned to the costumes, which they all spoke of with reverence. “A lot of the costumes are old and continually refurbished. It’s nice to wear the old costumes, though—there’s a legacy inside them,” Theresa Pelicata, 30 (and a nine-year vet of the show), told us. “A woman who’s probably 65 now may have worn my costume and it’s been on stage every single Christmas.”
Click through to take a look back at the Rockettes’ costumes through the decades (including tons of amazing vintage photos), get a review of the show by the numbers (ex: 1,400 pairs of tights per season), and find out some of the common wardrobe malfunctions that the Rockettes have dealt with, all while maintaining their megawatt smiles.