Jewish Fashion Icon of the Month: Natasha Lyonne

Fashion month? Boring! Turns out the style heroine we all need right now is nowhere near the international runways; instead, the fashion world is going gaga for a sassy Jewish New Yorker with a mop of red curly hair, a cigarette permanently clamped to her lips, and a habit of dying — repeatedly — at her own birthday party.

Russian Doll

She is, of course, Nadia Volvokov, as played by Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll. Released on Netflix in February, this addictive eight-parter has been an absolute sensation: “The first great show of 2019”, according to Esquire; “an early contender for show of the year,” agreed Haaretz.

Lyonne not only stars in Russian Doll, but she was also one of the writers and co-creators (with Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland) and directed the final episode too.

A Jewish connection

The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors on her mother’s side, Lyonne spent two years in Israel when she was growing up, and later attended an Orthodox school in Manhattan. A Jewish thread certainly runs through the show, and not just thanks to Lyonne’s magnificent New York accent. The ill-fated birthday party takes place in a converted yeshivah house, and episode three sees Nadia visiting a rabbi in search of answers, only to end up swigging kiddush wine straight from the bottle.

Less is more

Lyonne’s character Nadia only wears two outfits in Russian Doll, and while you certainly couldn’t describe them as fashion, they’re brimming with Lower East Side attitude.

Usually in all black (with a flash of red in the tie-ribbon blouse she wears in some of the loops), she knows how to rock a double-breasted blazer and sunnies, and makes a borrowed men’s overcoat look thoroughly desirable. Naturally, viewers have been taking to Instagram to ask where they can buy it all.

That hair though

As for the hair — well, the creator of the Rachel-from-Friends cut can probably still rest easy, but Nadia’s leonine curls are certainly getting some traction. Refinery 29 declared that Natasha Lyonne’s hair was “the real star of Russian Doll,” and even provided some helpful tips from her hair stylist. Lyonne simply turned up on set with wet hair, apparently, and he just added some product and finished drying it with a diffuser if there wasn’t enough time to let it dry naturally.

Lyonne on the Russian Doll set with her stunt doubles

Familiar to fans of Orange is The New Black, Lyonne is suddenly everywhere. She stepped out in a tuxedo dress with boyfriend Fred Armisen on the Grammys red carpet; wore Gucci and Saint Laurent in a shoot for the December issue of Interview magazine, and recently talked fashion with WWD. (Forget Audrey, Katharine was the more stylish Hepburn, according to Lyonne.)

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Teaming up with her bestie

Her fashion ascent should come as no surprise to seasoned Lyonne watchers. After all, this is the woman who has spent the past 20 years as the BFF of fellow actress Chloe Sevigny, famously dubbed “the coolest girl in the world” in a 1994 New Yorker profile. (If you’re ever in need of a lift, I highly recommend looking up images of Lyonne and Sevigny posing up a storm together on various red carpets.)

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Keeping safe havens close. 🖤

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But who would have thought that untamed curly bangs and a man’s overcoat would add up to a genuine fashion moment? Bring on season two.

Susannah Cohen is a fashion journalist, e-commerce editor (specialist subjects: lingerie and diamonds) and Jewish mom. Recently relocated from London to the West Coast, she’s feeling a lot more spiritual these days.