From Russia We Love

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Anna Karenina is an epic story written by famed novelist Leo Tolstoy.  (Which was actually made popular again, due to its appearance on Oprah’s book list a couple of years ago… Oh, society.)  Director Joe Wright, of Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, brought the Russian epic onscreen, and didn’t really do a good job of it.  Although it took this editor three viewings just to get through the film, the only thing that kept me interested was Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran’s extraordinary work, and seeing it on one of our favorite girls, Keira Knightley.  We actually featured Durran’s most famous creation, the stunning emerald number that Keira sports in Atonement, in our very first “Look-of-the-Day.”  In an interview with Glamour, Durran said, “At the first meeting I had with the director, Joe Wright, he told me that he didn’t really want to make it historically accurate, costume wise: he wanted to stylize it.  The way he wanted to stylize it was to concentrate on the silhouette of each character and to take an 1870s silhouette, but simplify the surface details so that it really had the architectural simplicity of 50s couture.  What I had to do immediately was look at the 1870s shape then strip away all the surface detail and just be left with that pure shape.”  The combination of the two eras resulted in a stunning wardrobe, with inspiration from vintage Balenciaga, Lanvin, and Christian Dior.  Anna appears in an off-the-shoulder scarlet gown and strings of pearls in one of the opening scenes (pictured, above right) – the lady wore red alright, considering this scene marks the beginning of her affair with Vronsky (played by the miscast Aaron Taylor-Johnson).  Her romantic competition, Kitty, is played by the young and innocent Alicia Vikander (pictured, above with Taylor-Johnson).  Durran told the Daily News, “Kitty’s white dress really evolved from the idea of her being a debutante and being a child.”  Especially, since it’s covered in little pink ribbons and roses.  Knightley’s Anna Karenina is clearly the most striking individual at the party in red, while everyone surrounding her is in stark white.  If there’s one thing we learned from this version of Anna Karenina, it’s that Keira Knightley can wear a hat.  Be it a veiled topper adorned with a large rose (pictured, above left), or an embroidered stunner atop her curls (pictured, above right), or looking like she walked right off the set of Doctor Zhivago in a fur-trimmed Cossack hat (pictured, top), Miss Knightley looks purely stunning in any topper.  Her bold brows, high cheekbones, and magnetic eyes are certainly a director’s (and a costumer’s) dream for closeups.  At the dance where both Anna and Kitty dance with Count Vronsky, Anna is dressed in a black ballgown (pictured, below right).  According to the New York Times, Durran said, “It is one of the most famous costumes in literature.  The way the dress is described, and why it is the most perfect dress for that day, is because it frames Anna’s beauty.”  Knightley sports a dark taffeta gown, and two million dollars’ worth of Chanel diamonds, against a sea of pastels, which “functions visually, because Anna is standing out against this society.”  (Fun Fact: Keira Knightley is a spokeswoman for the famous French brand’s fragrance.)  According to Vanity Fair, “As Anna falls in love with Vronsky, her clothes become lighter in hue to reflect her lighter mood, before returning to darker shades to complement her growing anxiety and paranoia.”  After publicly divorcing her husband Alexei (played by a creepy Jude Law) for Count Vronsky, she appears at the opera in a beautiful, fluffy white gown, adorned in diamonds and a white fur stole (pictured, above).  Anna causes quite a scandal by attending the society event, now that she’s a “ruined woman.”  Jacqueline Durran’s favorite costume of the film is the asymmetrical ivory gown and pillbox hat Knightley sports in the tearoom scene (pictured, below).  Our editors’ favorite costume is the gray gown with the black lace overlay that Keira wears toward the ending of the film.  She looks distraught and depressed, but the gown is truly beautiful.  Although, her best accessories obviously hail from her hatted scenes, or ones where she’s dripping in diamonds from Chanel.  The movie may have stunk, but the costumes were some of the most stunning of 2013.  Best of luck to Miss Durran!