Social Styles: The Costumes of Three Sisters

Who Wore What to Where by Elysze Held

In South Florida, the name Elysze Held is synonymous with style. As founder and president of the Miami fashion/image consulting firm, Style Out of the City, Elysze is the personal stylist to WSVN 7/Deco Drive’s hosts, Lynn Martinez & Louis Aguirre and has dressed CEO’s, models, super-models, celebrities, socialites & fashionistas! Elysze frequently commutes to New York, is a field producer for Mercedes Benz New York Fashion week, and styles national advertising campaigns. With her stylist’s eye, she lets us know WHO WORE WHAT to WHERE!

Three Sisters, directed by Stephanie Ansin at the Miami Theatre Center in Miami Shores, is an engaging play about the deterioration of the privileged class in Russia– it describes the lives of the Prozorov family, the three sisters (Olga, Masha, and Irina) and their brother Andrei and their search for meaning in the modern world-in the early 1900’s. The sisters are refined and cultured young women who grew up in urban Moscow, and now they are a family dissatisfied and frustrated with their present existence, in ‘the suburbs’.

The costumes were designed and coordinated by Fernando Calzadilla in collaboration with Ansin, and his execution of the wardrobe is true to the period.

“Russia was more ‘Francophile’ at the time,” he said. “They looked after the French fashion; it was more of an elegant time, and that was the style I was trying to capture.”

What I loved about the costumes in the Three Sisters was the style evolution of the characters, namely the sister-in-law, Natasha; she first arrives on the scene quite ‘provincial’ looking-in a very complex dress of pink, pink, pink…ruffles & bows and intricate accessories, to be precise, with a green velvet bow at the waist of the frilly pink dress…Olga does make mention of the belt to Natasha, rather cattily, and tells her the belt does not match her dress– (this particular scene would work well in a segment of the Real Housewives of …anywhere), as one woman remarks judgmentally on the fashion statement/style of another. The character Natasha is the most apparent advancement in style (she could have been featured in People/InStyle Magazine) as she begins in a pink phrase, and as she grows and dominates the household, her power is apparent in her rich burgundy brocade gown, much in the tone of the home décor, as she is now the matriarch of the estate.

The elder sister, Olga is very traditional very severe –-she would be labeled “conservative” today. As a teacher and later the headmistress of a school, she remains in the same deep blue linen dress in every scene-her only evolution is in her hairstyle. The middle sister, Masha, in my eyes, was certainly the most elegant and stylish – in a black lace blouse and a brocade skirt with a peplum waist. (yes, a peplum, a chic look on trend today for both fall 2012 and spring 2013!). The youngest sister, Irina, began in virginal frilly white, her style evolution apparent in the last scene, her clothes a darker hue and her skirt lines skimming above the ankle.

The epicenter of the featured wardrobe is never seen, but it’s strength is ostensive — their corsets. Corsets have been prevalent for centuries, mainly for aristocratic fashionistas. They reached the peak of popularity in the Victorian era, when women in all social classes wore them, but the most restricting corsets were found in the upper class. Olga, Masha, Irina and Natasha each wore a corset for the duration of the play. Wearing a corset certainly does not come naturally; the actresses had to train themselves to get to a level where they felt comfortable wearing a corset on a daily basis.

Ansin remarked that “when the actresses first begin to wear their corsets, they would get sick.”

Calzadilla added that “while none of the corsets are actually seen in the open, the purpose was that the actresses moved differently; their posture more erect, their movement more controlled, not to mention that their wardrobe, the dresses, actually fit better, as they did in that era.”

The sexy hourglass figure that was achieved by the Victorian corset is still pervasive today but at the present time corsets are less of a punishment and more of a fashion statement.

The Style Evolution of The Three Sisters…love it! See it!

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