In honor of the 69th Annual Tony Awards nominations announcement this Tuesday, we’re taking a look at some of the shows that have spectacular costumes this season. The Tony Awards air Sunday, June 7th on CBS.
In the revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play The Heidi Chronicles, Elisabeth Moss portrays a successful art historian struggling over three decades to figure out what it means to be a woman. Showing 30 years on one stage on one person is a challenge, but costume designer Jessica Pabst was up to the task. “The clothes not only support the periods, but also support Heidi's journey into adulthood,” Pabst explained to InStyle of her approach to showing the character's growth, which spans from a high school dance in 1965 to a lecture class at Columbia University in 1989. “It was most important to me that Heidi look and feel like a real woman, not an idealized fashionista or a dowdy academic.” Scroll down to learn more about how she transformed Ms. Elisabeth into Ms. Heidi.
What was your approach to her character?
“Heidi is our narrator, our heroine and in order for the audience to relate and engage with her journey the clothes had to be believably real, while also being specific and true to the period.”
How do her costumes enhance the story that's being told?
“To costume Heidi from teenager to adult, I played with shape and proportion. To make Elisabeth feel more youthful in the high school scene Heidi's dress had a higher neck, a longer bright blue skirt, and flat loafers. Transitioning into college-age Heidi, I raised the hemline and gave her a mini-skirt and tall boots to evoke a more 1968, co-ed feel. By the ‘70s, Heidi is championing women's liberation and wearing fitted bell-bottoms and button-down shirts with wide lapels. By the end of act one, she is a woman in her 20s in post-graduate school and attending the wedding of her ex-boyfriend wearing a wrap dress of neutral pink and tan stripes. Heidi is approaching adulthood, and for this we strip away the layers and feature Elisabeth's shape in a more revealing, softer silhouette than we have seen before.”
The striped dress may be a period piece, but it is a look that seems both attainable and timeless. Why did you choose this particular one?
“Everyone has at least one go-to dress in their closet that makes them feel confident and this is Heidi's. I designed this dress based on research from the mid-‘70s but the shape is timeless. The scene takes place a few years after the wrap dress stormed the fashion scene so it is a little tribute to that iconic shape. By 1977, every woman had a version of it in her closet and probably most women have a version of it today!”
Why is the wrap dress so important to show?
“This shape is so timeless because it highlights the nicest parts of the female body without being too revealing. The cross-body shape is very flattering: the deep V in front elongates the neck, and the waist is accentuated with the cinched tie. For this look, I made the skirt a bit fuller to feature Elisabeth's hourglass figure and lowered the back into that same V shape as in the front to make it feel more open and sexy.”
Many of the tones for Heidi’s palette are neutral and muted. Why so?
“Heidi is a young academic on a budget, so her closet has pieces she can repeat without drawing attention with bold prints or trendy styles. In my mind, Heidi wears dresses to work functions with boots and a blazer or to dinner with friends or on first dates with sandals or pumps. I [wanted her to be the woman who] changed clothes a million times that morning trying to decide what to wear to her ex's wedding and went with a dress because she feels comfortable and confident in it.”
For tickets to The Heidi Chronicles featuring Elisabeth Moss, visit theheidichroniclesonbroadway.com.