A recent visit with my sister Anne was a 3-day whirlwind. Within a short window of time we caught up on what was happening in our lives and businesses, visited our friend Patti in the hospital, experienced the Benicia Tree Lighting and Open House on First Street and took in a movie on a rainy Friday afternoon. We tend to have much in common, especially when it comes to our love of film.
The movie was Anna Karenina, which was playing at Cine Arts in Pleasant Hill. We decided to forgo popcorn and had a quick snack to tie us over during the 2-hour movie. As we bought the tickets, Anne and I noticed that only women were standing in line and filing into the theatre. There was not a man in sight, and for good reason since this turned out to be the ultimate chick flick.
The story, written by Leo Tolstoy and set in 1870 Russia, is about a married woman who has an affair with a younger man. It is thought of by many as the best novel ever written and is discussed in college classes. I must have skipped that class because I was expecting an epic romance. The story is tragic, but beautiful in a perverse sort of way. It was interesting how the film's director, Joe Wright, used one location, on a stage with set changes, to tell the story. He interjected scenes of real locations, making the movie visually stimulating and more relevant for a 21st Century audience.
The costuming and jewelry were astonishing, and reflective of the late 1800's Russian high society, but they also seemed modern. The fabrics, lavish with heavy silks and satins in rich colors, told a different story in every scene. The plot became secondary to magnificent millinery, incredible jewelry and all types of fur interpretations: stoles, cuffs, men's suit collars and hats
In the October issue of Vogue Magazine, actress Keira Knightley (Anna) was featured on the cover and inside was a preview of the costumes designed by Jacqueline Durran for the movie. Durran was also the costume designer for the actress in the movie versions of Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Sean Barrett's veiled hats, perfectly coordinated with the outfits, could easily be worn today by the likes of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
Chanel provided authentic jewelry consisting of rings, necklaces and exquisite earrings. I can't get the diamond strand necklace with circle broach out of my mind. In one of the more memorable scenes Anna is attending a ball and while all the other women wear gowns of pastel colors, she is wearing a black taffeta and tulle dress that the attendees (and the movie audience) couldn’t take their eyes off. In another scene, Anna wears the same dress in pure white to the theatre, trying to appear innocent of her infidelities to her social peers. It was an uncomfortable scene; Anna had nowhere to hide, even in the amazing gown.
My Sister returned home to North Carolina, and even though she is across the continent we will always have that Friday afternoon, and the movie Anna Karenina, to revisit in our minds when we need a fashion or sister fix.