In creating the costume design for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 Tony Award-winning costume designer Paloma Young (now also a Tony nominee for her work on The Great Comet) had to capture the old Russian feel of War and Peace while infusing the modernity of Dave Malloy’s rock opera take on Tolstoy. “Our core group of principals feel like they’re anchored in 1812 but we also have a lot of things that live in the 1980s, the 1990s, behind the iron curtain,” she explains in the video above.
With one of the largest ensembles currently on Broadway, Young created 1,427 costume pieces to bring to life the world of the Tony-nominated musical. Of those, 134 are vintage or antique, 226 were built from scratch, and 477 were painted, dyed, collaged from multiple garments, punkified.
Young leaned into the Russian roots of the story. “Russia is represented by the bear, so there are a lot bears in the costumes for Great Comet,” she says. Everything from a bear pin from 1980’s Olympics in Russia to a faux tattoo of a bear playing an accordion based on a Russian prison tattoo is included in Young’s design. “I've actually never counted all the bears in the show.”
Because the show is staged as an immersive experience, Young kept the audience in mind. “It’s all about texture and detail and its these little audiences gifts—it’s a secret between the actor and the audience member they’re sitting next to,” she says.
For the backstory (and a close-up look) at everything from animal-inspired headdresses to vintage ’90s T-shirts to actual chicken feet sewn to a vest, Young reveals The Great Comet’s wardrobe secrets in the exclusive video above.