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The 1965 epic film, Doctor Zhivago directed by David Lean starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie is on my list of one of the most stylist films ever made. Despite of the mixed reviews it received, the film that is loosely based on the novel by Boris Pasternark, is still considered one of the highest grossing films of all time. The incredible acting, breathtaking cinematography, beautiful musical score and the gorgeous costumes make them one of the most memorable and influential films in pop culture. For a fashion person, it’s one of my favourite winter film to watch for inspiration.

Doctor Zhivago won a well-deserved 1965 Oscar for Best Costume Design. Here are some of few interesting story and fact about designing the costume for the film from Wikipedia.

 Annie Symons, the costume designer and her staff had to create more than 3000 costumes and 35,000 individual items of clothing for the cast. The characters of Zhivago and Lara each had at least 90 costume combinations, and six other principal characters had an average of fifteen changes each. By the time principal photography ended, a total of 984 yards of fabric, 300,000 yards of thread, 1 million buttons, and 7,000 safety pins were used.

 Geraldine Chaplin plays sweet and supportive Tonya, Yuri Zhivago’s step-sister turned wife. Her introductory scene shows Tonya hopping off a busy train from Paris at the Moscow train station in a fitted, pale pink dress and overcoat with matching fur hat and grey muff. The costume garnered much attention from Director David Lean. Costume Designer Phyllis Dalton had an argument with the Director because David Lean didn’t like the that same costume in pale grey with a black fur hat which was Phyllis first initial plan to be used for the scene because she thought that Geraldine would look so sophisticated on them. Phyllis then had a white version of the outfit made, which Lean rejected again since it made Geraldine’s teeth look “too yellow.” To satisfy David adamant request for a pale colour but not white for same outfit, Dalton then made another one in pink, which later on became the most beautiful and memorable outfit in the whole film. 

Director David Lean also made all his actors wear period undergarments beneath their costumes for added authenticity. 


Julie Christie stars as Lara, Zhivago’s mistress, muse and true love. Though Lara is an innocent young woman at the start of the film, her entanglement with a political fixture and notable womanizer named Viktor Komarovsy finds her in a flashy red number that Christie wore rather reluctantly. Claiming that she hated red and the way the dress made her feel, Christie initially refused to wear the revealing, vixen-esque gown, with its black tassel trimming and long satin gloves. “’It’s not a dress you would have worn, or Lara would have worn,’” Lean says he explained to Christie. Lara’s lover Viktor forced her to wear the dress, demonstrating his complete power over her actions, securing Lean’s belief that the costume was fitting for the particular scene. Whether it’s a crisp white puff sleeve shirt and floor-length skirt or a lavender evening dress with a matching bow tied in her hair, Lara’s costumes are some of the most enchanting in the film.