Anne Armit, head of wardrobe for 'A Cinderella Story,' talks '50s fashions and modern celebs
When Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet stops by Ruth Eckerd Hall next Tuesday, Jan. 26, to perform A Cinderella Story, don’t expect the powder blue gown and blond bun you see on ol’ Cindy at Magic Kingdom. Set in 1957, this version of the fairy tale features dancers in ’50s eveningwear boogying down to jazzy show tunes.
The performance is at 8 p.m. Tuesday (1/26) at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets are $40, $45 and $52. For more info, call (727) 791-7400 or go to rutheckerdhall.com.
As much fun as the 23 dancers have on stage, Anne Armit, right, had almost as good a time creating their costumes. Armit, who has been the ballet company’s wardrobe director since 1989, worked under the direction of costume designer Sandra Woodall to create vintage-style evening gowns, tuxedos and even animal costumes for this unique telling of the rags-to-riches story. Think Grease and Happy Days prom scenes, not poodle skirts.The Divas called Armit at her studio in Winnipeg to discuss A Cinderella Story costumes and which ’50s fashions are making a comeback.
Deal Divas: How would you describe the costumes?
Armit: I love the costumes. They’re ‘50s and fantasy. It’s a combination of both. Certain areas like the ballroom, the dance studio, the home scene, they’re all in ‘50s-influenced costumes. And then the rest of it would be in fantasy. The women have a lot of servants. The servants get angry, and they leave. They quit, and they go to a forest, and they become animals. (One servant) goes to forest; she becomes a Playboy Bunny rabbit — a 1950s Playboy Bunny rabbit. ... The small little tail, the rabbit ears. It’s darn cute.
They must have some cool wigs, too, then.
No wigs in the show. ... Wigs are really hard for us to tour with. They’re very expensive. They’re high maintenance.
What is your favorite outfit of Cinderella's?
I like her ball gown dress. I love the whole concept that she had with the ball gown dress. I thought it was so cute. Everybody sees her somewhere, and she’s got this pink and black dress. So they all are now — like Seventh Avenue after seeing the shows in Paris — they do a knockoff. But none of the knockoffs are successful. They’re all kind of ill-fitting or gaudy or bad. They all show up in these dresses, and it’s so funny.
Exactly. I thought it was such a clever thing. The other thing I really loved that she did — it was a really subtle thing... When they went to ball room, you classically think of tuxedos in black, and (Woodall) did them all in a really dark green. And then all the dresses are in dark green. It just adds something refreshing to the show
The dancers have to move in the costumes, which is another story. What materials do you use?
I’m big a fan of silk. We buy silk wholesale. It moves, it breathes, it doesn’t pick up odor, it’s easy to clean, it doesn’t stain like polyester. A lot of her fabrics, we actually bought from San Francisco and L.A. because that’s where she was familiar with. ...Actually Winnipeg, because we manufacture a lot of garments here, is quite a good resource for fabric.
Do you think poodle skirts will ever make a comeback?
(laughs) Rockabilly made that comeback, so there will probably be a recycling of rockabilly, right?
Are there pieces from that era that people can incorporate into their wardrobe today without looking costumey?
I think so, because I think that vintage clothing is really popular. People have made a big investment in vintage clothing. There’s a show on TV now, The Rachel Zoe Project, where she’s a big stylist in L.A. and she’s doing all the Hollywood divas. She does Demi Moore, and she’s massively into vintage. I think the fact that Julia Roberts wore the Valentino at the Academy Awards (in 2001, left), that made a big statement for vintage.
What are some vintage ‘50s pieces you would suggest?
Jewelry. Like all the Sherman jewelry that came out, all the rhinestone jewelry that came out in the ‘50s — this is really, really popular. (Check out this 1950s-inspired ring, right, which sells for $4.80 at Forever 21.) The little cropped fur jackets are really popular now. This is also coming off the runway. You see people like Victoria Beckham wearing a lot of this, and you can pull that from the ‘50s. There are so many variations on fashion now, and for me it always seems that it depends on what music you listen to (is) how you dress. If you listen to punk music, you dress punk style. If you listen to Britney Spears, you dress Britney Spears.
What is dressing Britney Spears?
I’m not a fan of the look, so it’s a little bit hard for me. It’s short skirt, sexy, high heels, big blond hair. You have a moment, you shave it off, you buy extensions. And then Kate Gosselin copies you.
They look incredibly fake. ... And holy mackerel, she sure got a lot of press out of it.
Do you encourage audience members to dress ‘50s?
I think that’s fabulous. When we do Dracula, we get goths coming to the show and they dress. I think it’s really great. People don’t dress to go to theater anymore.
Deal Diva Dalia
Photos: Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Getty Images, Amazon.com