When the Broadway producer Jordan Roth heard one of his five New York City theaters, the August Wilson, had been chosen as the venue to host the Funny Girl revival, he knew exactly what to wear on opening night. When the time came to welcome Fanny Brice into the 21st century, it was obvious Roth—a self-described Barbra Streisand and theater fan—would open his theater’s doors to her draped in leopard: a tribute to the look Brice wears when we first meet her character in the 1968 film based on the musical. “Even if you can’t sing every word of this glorious score by heart, the leopard coat probably has a place in your decadent, diva-loving lexicon,” Roth told W. (Of course, he does know every word of the score.)
On Sunday night, Roth arrived to the premiere of Funny Girl in a recreation of Brice’s leopard print coat, a piece as recognizable to theater fans as Eliza Doolittle’s lace Royal Ascot ensemble, or Anna’s pink ballgown in The King & I (notably designed by Irene Sharaff, who also created Brice’s leopard outfit). The Funny Girl film opens to Brice wrapped in the fur, at the height of her fame as she admires her name done up in lights. Brice walks into the theater, eyes herself in the mirror, and speaks for the first time in the film, “Hello gorgeous.” It’s a look held to a high regard in the Streisand fan community, one that was recreated by the new Brice, Beanie Feldstein, herself, at her Funny Girl-themed 3rd birthday party. So, when Roth set out to pay homage the iconic piece, he knew he had to call upon his friend and fellow Streisand lover, Zac Posen, to get the job done.
Roth asked Posen to reference the coat, but to add an “avant-garde” aesthetic. “This piece in no way is a replica,” Posen insisted. Instead of simply remaking a fur-covered jacket and skirt with a pillbox hat to match, Posen took the allure of Brice and the charm of Roth and let the two inspire him. The result is a washed heavy taffeta coat, which gathers at the knee before continuing to the floor, with Italian jacquard leopard on the cuffs, lining, and a dramatic collar. The overcoat oozes the same glamour Brice presents in that opening scene, but with a modern twist. “It’s fashion, not a costume,” Roth noted—so he opted to pair the coat with some Rick Owens leather leggings and platform boots. The finishing touch was a vintage Line Vautrin necklace Roth found on 1st Dibs. “I wasn’t originally thinking of it for this look but had an aha moment at our first fitting,” he said.
When Roth stepped out in the August Wilson Theater on Sunday night, it was clear the ghost of Fanny Brice had left her mark upon him. “I felt glamorous and free and fully myself,” Roth said. “I felt like I was physicalizing my great love for this show and for the new reimagining of it that we are celebrating.”