Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fiddler on the Roof Costume Study Part 1

Fiddler on the Roof is set in the fictional Ashkenazi community in Russia, Anatevka. The original book by Sholom Aleichem on which the movie was based was published in 1894. I think the film is set from 1904. Fiddler on the Roof differs greatly from Yentl. For one thing, Fiddler is filmed in more impoverished circumstances, picturing poor farming families etching out their living, whereas Yentl, and Hadass especially, have quite decent clothes and homes, lavish and prosperous in Hadass's case.

Not so with Tevye and his five daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, Shprintze, and Bielke. Their father is not a rabbi but a milkman, who delivers milk to both Gentile and Jew. He has no time to study, but must work hard for a living. They, too, are seem tilling the soil. In fact, the entire film was filmed through pantyhose to give the adobe-brown hue. The family is literally living close to nature and the soil.

First we shall examine the everyday working clothes of the girls. Secondly, the Sabbath outfits, then the wedding outfits, then the sweet dresses in "Chavalah", and finally winter clothes.

Tzeitel is the oldest, and in my opinion the most beautiful. She has the most gorgeous nose and face, very well-defined and sculptured. You will notice throughout the film that all the girls and women dress like true Orthodox Jews, with long sleeves and long skirts and high necklines. Golde, and later Tzeitel, covers her hair completely as she is married. Some women, like Yente, tie their headscarves in front.

The tone of most of the work-clothing is soil-like. Obviously the clothes are not fresh and new, but rather much-worn. For the blouses, you can see that Golde's workdress has a yoked bodice.

 Because this is the Edwardian era with the mutton sleeves coming into fashion, blouses were "little-house-on-the-prairie-like". You can see here that Hodel has puffy sleeves on her beige work-blouse. The work-blouses all button in front.

 Here, the lady next to Tzeitel have some vertical folds on her blouse design, also common to this era.

Small, faded prints are common both for the scarves and the blouses. The girls mostly wear a headscarf, a work-blouse, an apron, and a long skirt. The girls tie up their hair in a triangle piece of fabric. This is a simple hair-do. The hair is kept away from the face. You can see they have long, frizzy, hair that is at least waist-length.

Most aprons tie at the back and are of varying length. Here one of the younger daughters is wearing a white pinafore. This style of apron is mostly seen on younger girls. It has a bodice. You can also notice the details put in the costume designer - it has a light blue patch, signifying that it has been worn often, and most likely handed down.

 The younger girls also wear tichels (headscarves) when working and have long hair. This sweet little girl has a beautiful pink and white outfit.

So, this is the full work-costume of the girls and women in Fiddler on the Roof.

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