When it comes to contemporary costume design, people quickly think of a business consisting of nothing but shopping and pulling together rolling racks of clothes from everyday stores. While these elements are, of course, a part of the process, contemporary costume design has every motive to be a strong proponent of storytelling. The HBO limited series Mare of Easttown with costumes designed by 2021 Emmy-Nominee Meghan Kasperlik is proof of the vast potential of storytelling through contemporary costume design. I had the chance to dive into the process of costuming Easttown in a interview with Mare of Easttown costume designer Meghan Kasperlik – now live on The Art of Costume Blogcast.
Featured Image: Kate Winslet as Detective Mare Sheehan – Photo Credit: Michele K. Short /HBO
“This one is extra special to me because I am really excited that people are seeing the storytelling of costume, and it’s not just about having a fashion moment in a contemporary costume. It’s actually the authenticity of the characters and costumes that really elevated the storytelling. It’s really exciting that people recognize that!”Meghan Kasperlik – The Art of Costume Blogcast
The costumes seen in Mare of Easttown are rightfully gaining a lot of praise for their authenticity and loyalty to the genuine natures of small-town Pennsylvania. While these costumes are nominated within the Outstanding Contemporary Costumes, they still have the transportive energy of any period or fantasy costume. Any lover of costume and fashion would see the dedication and thought costume designer Meghan Kasperlik put into each costume. It was evident Meghan took many traits of these characters into consideration, such as who these characters are, their jobs, and their roles in this town each day.
“It was very important that all of the costumes really looked authentic, and that they looked lived in, and that maybe this person picked it off the floor and smelled it and thought, “Oh, it’s fine today, I can wear it one more time!” Meghan continues to say, “This specific show was really meant to be, who are these characters, what happens in a day to these people, and they don’t change their clothes. It was really about how lived in we can make these characters.”Meghan Kasperlik – The Art of Costume Blogcast
Part of Meghan Kasperlik’s research process included visiting a Wawa, a convenience store and gas station commonly located along the East Coast of the United States. She observed locals and noted what they were wearing, what they brought with them, what they bought, and how they bought it.
Then, of course, it came down to the ultimate task, costuming the main character of the series, Mare Sheehan. The brilliant Kate Winslet played Mare. One might ask, how can you go about transforming one of the most famous, well-loved actresses on the planet, known for their beauty and charismatic energy. Fortunately for Meghan, Kate was all in when it came to the transformation, accepting the wig, laying in eyebrows, and of course, Mare’s wardrobe.
Everything about Mare’s wardrobe was intentional, from the muted colors to the layers of clothes Mare hid under. It was imperative to Meghan that Mare’s wardrobe portrayed “a woman who would maybe buy new clothes when she felt it was necessary, but otherwise it would be a jeans and a t-shirt situation.” Mare often wore a Filson jacket, which Meghan referred to as Mare’s “suit of armor.” Adamant that Mare would never be seen with a handbag, Meghan designed Mare’s wardrobe to be about layering.
The attention to detail by Meghan Kasperlik and her crew was beyond impressive. I loved the color palettes, aging and dying, the layering, and of course, the use of graphic tees and local band t-shirts. We talked about the authenticity of the costuming, designing Mare’s wardrobe, and the costumes for some of our favorite characters such as Detective Colin Zabel, Siobhan Sheehan, and of course Helen Fahey, played by Jean Smart! What is not to love? I could talk about Meghan Kasperlik and costuming Easttown forever, but why listen to me when you could just hear from the designer herself? Fortunately, Meghan joined me on a special bonus episode of The Art of Costume Blogcast.