Eighteenth-century royalty meets modern-day celebrity culture in Marie Antoinette, by the critically acclaimed New York playwright David Adjmi, which opens at Steppenwolf Theatre on February 5. “The play speaks to our need to have someone on the pedestal and then beat them till they fall off,” explains the director, Robert O’Hara. “I thought that was exciting, especially in the age of Beyoncé and the Kardashians—the cult of personality.”
Up-and-coming costume designer Dede Ayite got the task of updating prerevolutionary decadence for the Instagram age. Here’s a taste of the couture she created for actress Alana Arenas—and why.
1. The hair
Inspired by Beyoncé’s gravity-defying wig in a 2012 video promoting the Mrs. Carter Show tour, Ayite created a similar one.
2. The accessories
Copious rhinestones reference the queen’s famous gems; cat’s-eye sunglasses and mod earrings bring them into the 21st century.
3. The top
“If Marie were around now, she and her friends would wear diamond-encrusted T-shirts, not corsets,” Ayite says. Hence this of-the-moment crop top.
4. The skirt
A blizzard of tulle, organza, chiffon, beaded lace, and Swarovski crystals, this confection—anchored by a hoop underneath—helps show that “Marie has the edge of a modern-day woman,” says Ayite.