It took me awhile to appreciate Russian literature. Actually, what it took was Kiera Knightley, starring as the luckless but diaphanously gorgeous Lara Antipova in the 2002 TV remake of Doctor Zhivago. Lots of snow and ice and bleak grey skies, not to mention endless war, peasants with chapped hands and an overabundance of gruesomely pointless death. But, amid all the gloom and doom, are the most wonderful thick fur hats, coats, and fur-lined boots.
I doubt that author Borsi Pasternak penned Doctor Zhivago with an eye for costume design. The book, set between the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War of 1918, is a political commentary and star-crossed love story — neither theme a ready-made platform for runway fashion. And yet… what is more romantic than men in heavy top coats, women in velvet cloaks and volunimous skirts, faces flushed from riding in horse-drawn sleighs through chill air? It’s so over-the-top plush in the face of wintery minimalism.
Honestly, beyond that one small-screen version of Doctor Zhivago, I’m still not sold on the Russian canon. I need a happily-ever after with my fiction just like I need a crackling fire, a cup of hot cocoa and a rousing chorus of “Jingle Bells” with my sleigh rides. Nonetheless, since there isn’t actually a required reading list when it comes to the clothing inspired by Russian lit, I find myself drawn this time of year to furry boots.
Were I to find myself in Lara Antipova’s actual shoes, I suspect I’d be wishing for thickly comfy Uggs or Napoleon Dynamite-approve moon boots. However, with no immediate plans to travel across Siberia, I’m much more inspired by suede and fleece booties with an “I laugh in the face of black ice” heel. There’s a chance that, had Lara Antipova worn such shoes, she would never have lost-then-found-then-lost-again the tragically dashing Doctor. There would have been no need for daring escapes, a pantry holding nothing but a single potato, and a trainfull of soldiers with bad attitudes. With these shoes, Lara would have been a little less, well, Lara — and a little more Keira.
Eat your heart out, Borsi Pasternak.