Anna Karenina's Costume Scoop & Banana Republic's New Inspired Line

Costume designer Jacqueline Durran explains how to dress with old time elegance

Photo courtesy of Alliance Atlantis.

Photo Courtesy of Banana Republic.

From Mad Men to Downton Abbey, nothing can incite clothing envy like a good drama set in the past—except for maybe a good cinematic period piece.
As the titular character in the film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Keira Knightley exudes old world luxury. In the trailer, she’s draped in bold colours, luscious furs and strands of pearls that befit her role as the 19th century Russian socialite caught in an illicit love affair.
With help from the film’s costume designer Jacqueline Durran, a little old-time elegance can now be injected into our wardrobes with Banana Republic’s Anna Karenina capsule collection (in-stores and online on October 31st).
Durran, who has worked with Director Joe Wright and Knightley before (remember the green dress from Atonement? That was her), helped style and curate looks from creative director Simon Kneen’s holiday collection.
“The whole feel, the whole idea, of late 19th century Russia is kind of romantic,” said Durran. “I think that those are the elements that you can bring into Banana Republic and put together and make something, that is dressed up and fun.”
According to Durran, Wright had the idea to apply fifties sensibility to the late nineteenth century style in order to create the stunning costumes.
“It’s not a historically accurate film. We kind of made the costumes a really kind of hybrid of the 1950s and 1870s costumes,” explained Durran. “We took a [fifties couture] approach to shape and then applied it to the 1870s shape.”
The resulting collection for Banana Republic possesses the same aesthetics with its clean lines and fur accessories. For women, prices range from $28 for lace floral tights to $240 for a wool cape.
Luckily for us, the pieces in the collections aren’t as outrageous as the large fur hats and corseted dresses seen on screen. When worn separately, pieces like the black pencil skirt and black velvet blazer are suitable for the everyday.
“People wouldn’t necessarily want to go and wear an Anna Karenina dress, it would be too much,” said Durran. “So you take something very wearable, like a black party dress, and then you spruce it up with what we used in the film, like fur, diamonds and chiffon.”
As a nod to the two red dresses Knightley wears in the film, Durran selected a red dress into the mainly black collection. While many may see a red dress a little too extravagant for the everyday, Durran encourages us not to shy away from it.

 “It’s just [about] having a more exciting character. It’s only for one day or for a party or something—it’s not like making a huge commitment,” she said. “I think that’s what you do when you dress up when you’re little. We can do a little bit more of that.”—Portia Baladad with files from Ryan Porter

Click here to see looks from the Anna Karenina for Banana Republic Collection.