Anna Karenina, Runway Diva, or, Vengeance is mine, saith The Gap

All fashionistas are alike; all fashion victims are victims in their own way.

Everything was in confusion in the retail aisles when it was announced that the Banana Republic’s new fall line for women and men would be inspired by the upcoming film adaptation of Anna Karenina. 

According to today’s Huffington Post (“All the sideboob news that’s fit to print”),  the ubiquitous clothing chain is partnering with Jacqueline Duran, the film’s costume designer, to bring that special Tolstoyan chic to thirtysomething consumers who can afford to pay $500 for a blazer.  But don’t expect any corsets, crinolines, or top hats:  “Even if incorporating vintage pieces, you shouldn’t don a full 19th-century look,” Duran told InStyle Magazine (“Covering Russian literature since 2012”).

True, Jackie.  Showing up at a shindig dressed like Eugene Onegin is a fashion don’t, no matter how you rock those mutton chops.

This is not the first cross-cultural challenge faced by Anna Karenina, a book that has survived everything from truly terrible TV movies (Christopher Reeve as Vronsky), graphic novel adaptations, a rewrite as Android Karenina, and, of course, selection for Oprah Winfrey’s book club.  For those of you with long memories about the book club backlash on the Slavic scholarly community’s email list, let me assure you that the Banana Republic news is not an Oprah-level emergency (no unworthy readers are being exposed to the actual novel).

Instead, I think we should all welcome Anna into the world of American consumer culture.  A bright vista of possibilities opens up before us.  Anna could become a rival to the Barbie doll, including Fashion Forward Anna, Social Pariah Anna, and Railway Suicide Anna (coming soon: “All-new Anna Karenina playset, complete with bastard offspring accessory!”).  And, really, the 800-page novel misses so many opportunities by ending with Anna’s self-destruction.  Personally, I would pay good money to see Zombie Anna Karenina join the cast of The Walking Dead.

Let’s not miss out on Russian literature’s big moment. We are, after all, the experts.  It’s time to monetize all those years of graduate school  What other cross-promotional opportunities are being missed?